How do I preserve historical data using Collector?

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08-29-2016 04:09 PM
MarkHotz
Occasional Contributor II

We have a point feature class that we're planning to update and manage using both Collector and ArcGIS Online (soon to be Portal).  We will be measuring noise levels at each point over time.  At this stage all we are aiming to do is update the attributes (date and dB).  The concept works well; however, we will also need to revisit each of these points to collect more data annually.  We would also like to compare each newly collected data with the data collected in the previous year(s).

If we just collect data each time using the current feature class we will be overwriting the data that was collected the previous time.  Is there a way to simply add data collected each time without overwriting the previously collected data?

The only way seem to be able to resolve this is to add new fields to this particular feature class before the technician goes out into the field to collect data each year; hence, they will be updating a new field annually, and not one containing actual historical data...and we then just keep adding new fields each year.

Another option might be to build a separate Collector App for each period of collection, and then extract the data using ArcGIS Desktop, add a new field to our feature class in our geodatabase, and then join/relate the new field to the existing table, but that doesn't seem that much different than the previous idea (it's still adding a new field).

Or we could add a new point every time on top of the previous point, but with the same ID, but this (I feel) is not really following best practices and could lead to a lot of confusion in the future.

Does anyone know if I'm missing another option?  Or does it perhaps sound like I'm trying to invent a temporal GIS?

Thanks

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GISSupport3
Regular Contributor

There are probably a few options ... the other one you mentioned is to have a related table for each inspection.

You could also have an attribute(s) for each year's recording.

'Best' option would depend on what analysis / reporting you wanted to do.

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6 Replies
GISSupport3
Regular Contributor
MarkHotz
Occasional Contributor II

Hmmm.  I never thought of that.  I will have to read up on this and see if archiving will do what I need it to do.

Thanks for the lead...it's definitely food for thought.

GISSupport3
Regular Contributor

There are probably a few options ... the other one you mentioned is to have a related table for each inspection.

You could also have an attribute(s) for each year's recording.

'Best' option would depend on what analysis / reporting you wanted to do.

MarkHotz
Occasional Contributor II

This too has given me a lot of food for thought.  I'm starting to lean toward creating a relationship class between the feature class attribute table and a related table in the geodatabase.  The related table will simply have the feature class fields joined to it each year, which will preserve the historical data, and the feature class can be used to simply add new data and update attributes in the field.  All I would need to do is export the attribute table once a year (or whenever fieldwork has been completed) and join it to the relationship class table.  The relationship table will grow over time, but that's better than having the feature class attribute table expand every year (which I don't think can be done without overwriting data each time - primarily the edit tracking fields).  However, as you mentioned earlier, archiving might be an option too if the table becomes too large, but I don't think it will come to that, even after 10 years.

Thanks for pointing this out...it helps to have others help steer one toward a solution.

DougMorgenthaler
Esri Regular Contributor

Hi Mark-

I'd certainly recommend using a related table for this workflow.  Many folks with similar workflows utilize this approach successfully.  

There's a lesson you can read through/follow to help you get started: Inspect a hydrant—Manage a Mobile Workforce | ArcGIS 

-Doug

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MarkHotz
Occasional Contributor II

Doug:  Thanks for the input...more verification is better.  And thanks for the link as I will review that today as it seems to be very close to what we're trying to do here.

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