Data Collection at Speed with ArcGIS QuickCapture Webinar April 2020

04-24-2020 03:59 PM
Esri Frequent Contributor
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On April 22, as part of the Esri Transportation GIS Webinar Series, we aired a live Data Collection at Speed with ArcGIS QuickCapture Webinar. In this article you will find a recording of the event as well as a summary of many common questions we received.

The video recording is one hour in length and it has the following sections:

  • Introduction to Field Data Collection with ArcGIS by Terry Bills
  • Minute 6:40: The basics of ArcGIS QuickCapture and common use cases, by Ismael Chivite‌ and Terry Bills
  • Minute 20:54: Using ArcGIS QuickCapture at the Michigan DOT, by James Hainstock
  • Minute 28:50: How to create your own QuickCapture projects and other things you should know, by Ismael Chivite
  • Minute 39: Live Q&A

We did address many questions during the event, but there were many others we could not address live, so here is a more complete Q&A for you:

  • What are the most common workflows for ArcGIS QuickCapture? QuickCapture is specifically designed to support at-speed and rapid GIS field data collection workflows. Think of situations where field users need minimal distraction to capture geo-referenced field observations: aerial surveys, pass/fail inspections, ROW patrols, quick hazard reporting, etc. The purpose of QuickCapture is to provide the simplest and quickest experience possible for people to capture observations. Tap on the screen, and move on! 
  • What is the difference between QuickCapture and other data collection apps such as Survey123 and Collector? QuickCapture, Survey123 and Collector are all built on top of the ArcGIS platform and as such, leverage the same security model against ArcGIS Online and Enterprise. They also all work on top of ArcGIS feature layers, allow you to capture point, line and polygon geometries, work online and offline and work well with high accuracy GNSS receivers. That's all they have in common but the big differentiator is the user experience they provide to the end user. 


  • Buttons: QuickCapture lets you capture field observations quickly with the push of a button. 
  • Forms: Survey123 lets you capture data through a smart form.
  • Maps: Collector lets you capture data through a map.

Generally speaking, you will want to carefully look at the workflow at hand and explore which user experience is best for your users. There are many workflows where your decision is not going to make a difference, because any of the three apps could do the job.  There are other situations where selecting one app versus the other will make the difference between success or failure. 

In the seminar, we described for example an interesting scenario where QuickCapture was selected for snowplow drivers to easily report hazards while driving. QuickCapture is the right choice because it can be used hands-free, so it will not distract drivers. QuickCapture is plenty for the task, because we simply want to add a point in the map highlighting a hazard of some type.

Now, for the maintenance crews that need to follow up on reported hazards, Survey123 was selected. A form is used to report all the work done because that is a more involved process: Maintenance crews need to describe the work done, take photos, document the time spent and materials used, etc.  Survey123 is the right tool for that because a from provides the most natural and efficient user experience.

The great thing is, that since QuickCapture and Survey123 all work against ArcGIS feature layers, maintenance crews can work and update the existing hazard GIS features submitted from QuickCapture.

There are other workflows where Collector is a good fit. For example, for field crews who need to map assets along the road, a map-centric user experience is ideal, because it allows field users to see different layers of information in a map and even add new records into the map.

The above is not a comprehensive answer, but highlights the fundamental difference between the apps, which is the user experience. At Esri, we are building different user experiences for field data capture because we understand that different people and different workflows can require different approaches to data capture. As you gain familiarity with each of the apps, you will naturally learn how to pick the best for the task at hand. You will also learn that in some cases, any of the apps will do the job great.

  • How does QuickCapture integrate with the rest of ArcGIS? QuickCapture is built on ArcGIS so you can easily leverage other ArcGIS apps with data captured from QuickCapture. For example, you can:
    • Build a live ArcGIS dashboard on top of the feature layers where QuickCapture stores data.
    • Perform QA/QC workflows on QuickCapture data using ArcGIS Web AppBuilder or ArcGIS Pro
    • Use QuickCapture to create ArcGIS Workforce assignments
    • Perform follow up work with Survey123 and Collector on top of features initially created in QuickCapture
    • Analyze QuickCapture data from ArcGIS Insights
    • Use the ArcGIS Python API to programmatically create users and share QuickCapture projects
    • etc
  • Can I see all data captured in QuickCapture in a map from the mobile device? Yes. While the main user experience for QuickCapture is a panel with big buttons, you can also look at all your captured data in a map.  For a more detailed discussion on how to configure maps with QuickCapture, check 
  • Is QuickCapture limited to capturing points? No.  You can capture points, lines and even polygons. For example, you can use QuickCapture to capture pavement condition as lines, or sidewalks as you walk through them.   When working with lines and polygons you can configure your project to support nested data capture workflows (capture multiple features at once, for example, guardrail on the left and also on your right...) as well as in exclusive mode (the pavement condition is either good or bad...). Check for details.
  • Can QuickCapture work with a high accuracy GNSS receiver: Yes.  Check Use a high-accuracy receiver—QuickCapture | Documentation for more details on how to configure QuickCapture with your own receiver.
  • Why would I want to use an external GNSS receiver with QuickCapture? QuickCapture works by default with the built-in GPS receiver in your device. It does not require additional hardware to run. However, in some cases, using an external GNSS receiver can help you in different ways:
    • More accurate location data: If used correctly, an external GNSS receiver will feed QuickCapture with more accurate locations. The accuracy of the X,Y and Z coordinates of your data will be better and more consistent that with the built-in location sensor.
    • Higher throughput: Generally, built-in location sensors work at 1hz. That is, you get at most 1 position per second. That is plenty for the vast majority of workflows but in some cases you may want more throughput. If you are capturing data while in a moving vehicle, such as a helicopter or a car, you will want that extra throughput to generate smoother lines or more accurate point observations. Even if you use QuickCapture from a bicycle! See: Trailblazers | ArcNews | Spring 2020 
    • Metadata: When creating your QuickCapture project, you can configure it to automatically store GNSS metadata as GIS attributes. This will give you extra information to better understand the quality of the data submitted from the mobile app.
  • Can I time-stamp features as they get captured? Yes. QuickCapture projects can be configured to automatically capture the time when a button is pushed. For line and polygon data capture, you can also automatically store when the data capture starts and ends.  For more information, check the Quick reference—QuickCapture | Documentation help topic.
  • Does QuickCapture work offline? Yes. Once a project is downloaded into your device, you no longer need to be connected to capture data.  You do not need to configure your feature layers or projects in any special way to support offline workflows. That is, you do not need create an offline map, or even turn sync capabilities on in your feature layer.  Once a project is locally downloaded, QuickCapture will work even if disconnected.
  • Can QuickCapture be used to update existing GIS data? No. With ArcGIS QuickCapture you can only add new records into a feature layer. If you want to update existing GIS features from a field app, you will need to use either Survey123 or Collector.
  • Can I use Spike for offset data capture workflows ? No. Spike is a laser measurement solution by Esri Partner IkeGPS. At this moment, Spike tightly integrates with Survey123, but not with QuickCapture. For more details see Survey123: Laser Measurements with Spike - YouTube  We could bring similar integration into QuickCapture if we see interest in this.
  • How can I configure QuickCapture to work hands-free? QuickCapture works really well with Apple voice command accessibility features in iOS. To learn more check Please note that Apple's voice control is only supported in English.  At this moment, we have no support for hands-free operation in Android or Windows operating systems, or in a language other than English.
  • When will QuickCapture support webhooks? In May 5 2020 we will release version 1.5 which will introduce support for webhooks.
  • What do I need to license ArcGIS QuickCapture? To create ArcGIS QuickCapture projects you need a Creator user type. To use the QuickCapture mobile app, you need at least a Field Worker user type, or an Editor user type with a QuickCapture license
  • Do I always need an ArcGIS account to use the QuickCapture mobile app? No. If a QuickCapture project is shared publicly (shared with everyone), then anyone can use the project.  This is particularly useful for crowd-sourcing and citizen-science projects.  Please note that in order to share a QuickCapture project publicly, the project must be published to an ArcGIS Hub Premium organization. To learn more about how to share your projects publicly, check the blog post.
  • Do you have any tutorials to get started? Yes.
  • Does QuickCapture work with ArcGIS Enterprise? Yes. More details here: ArcGIS QuickCapture Pricing | Buy Now 
  • If using QuickCapture to document asset conditions, how can I keep historic records? Since QuickCapture can only add new records to a feature layer, you could theoretically use QuickCapture to record asset conditions. Every time a condition is submitted, a new record is added to your feature layer.  The location of the GIS features could be used to identify your assets uniquely and navigate history back and forth by looking at the different GIS records added.  This is technically possible, but I think there are likely better approaches to this.  If you want to use a mobile app to uniquely identify an existing asset, look at its condition history and add a new inspection, I would go with Survey123 or Collector. Both applications allow you to do this in a much more effective and less error prone process.