6 Methods to Map Your Own Data: A Workshop

02-18-2019 02:31 PM
Esri Frequent Contributor
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Today, there is no shortage of data available on open data portals, including those on ArcGIS Online (such as the Living Atlas of the World, and via ArcGIS Hub, and in many cities such as Cambridge Massachusetts and many countries such as Germany) and those we test and describe on our data blog http://spatialreserves.wordpress.com.  But there will always be a need for people to map their own data.  Great instructional value is inherent in doing so, including connectedness to the community, examining real world issues, field planning and methods, the use of data collection tools, outdoor education, and much more. 

If you are new to GIS, especially to web GIS, I encourage you to start with this HDI map of world countries, and this world plate tectonics map.

Thus, there is no shortage of methods in which to collect your own data.  In recent GIS workshops for faculty, I focus on the following 6 methods:

  1. Add data via a GPX file.  GPX files can come from a variety of sources, including GPS receivers and smartphone fitness apps.  Attached to this essay is a GPX file I collected in and around the University of Hamburg, Germany, using the RunKeeper app.  Save this file to your device, and add this to ArcGIS Online or Pro using the Add data tool. Symbolize the points and line as you see fit, and select your basemap of choice.  Note the "zinger" that appears in the GPX file.  I on purpose did not remove this, because these occasional spikes in the field path provide useful teachable moments.  This particular one occurred while I was inside St Michaels Church, gazing around at all the beauty, with the track "collecting" the whole time but losing some Wi-Fi hotspots, cell phone towers, and/or GPS satellites; hence guessing at my true position and, for a time, being a few hundred meters off.
  2. Add data via a simple table in Comma Separated Value (CSV) or text file (separated by commas).  Attached to this essay is a text file "fieldwork_hamburg_ped_counts.txt" in text format that I collected at 5 locations.  The data I collected was the number of pedestrians in one minute at each location, on a Sunday afternoon in winter. Symbolize the points as graduated symbol on pedestrian count.  Select a basemap of your choice.   Save and share as you see fit. Pedestrian counts is one useful set of data that you can collect with students, comparing different times of day, days of the week, and seasons of the year.  Note the high number of pedestrians at point #3 enjoying ice skating!
  3. Add data via an expanded table in text format for the same locations, but with a URL of a picture I took at each location.  FYI, my Flickr photos for this activity are from this set here.  After adding the data, click on each point, noting the "more info" for each popup that points to the photo.  Symbolize as you see fit, and practice customizing the popup.   Select a basemap of your choice.  Save and share as you see fit. 
  4. Use Survey123 to collect data in the area.  Use this form to collect tree height, tree species, and tree condition:  https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/933b03f8109e411cab344453dbd7a865   Examine the resulting map on:  http://arcg.is/1COi0z .  If you need the long URL, it is:  http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=434cbc3ca6a342eca3122f08414e2be4&extent=9.9432,... .  After uploading a test point to this Survey and seeing your results on the map, create your OWN survey on this or another topic using the web form method via http://survey123.arcgis.com/.  When your survey is finished, create a map from your survey and examine the pattern of your results. Save and share as appropriate.   See attached slides for more information on this powerful field data collection tool.  
  5. Create a story map of the data collected.  Several ways exist to do this, but start with the simplest one:   Go to https://storymaps.arcgis.com > Apps > Create Map Tour > Sign in to your ArcGIS Online account > add images from Flickr > access my images of the University of Hamburg and waterfront in the folder  joseph_kerski (note underscore) > Done.  In the story map, note the photo captions are read from the Flickr header information.  Add the number of pedestrians at each point as follows, from points 1 through 5 (with 1 being the northernmost point, 2 to its southwest, and then 3, 4, and 5 progressively closer to the harbor front).  Then, customize the color, basemap, logo, and extent.  Save and share as you see fit.  Under My Stories, edit the map for this story map and add the GPX file that you used earlier.  Change one of the photo to an embedded Hamburg video from among the Hamburg choices on my channel:  Our Earth - YouTube   Re-save.  Once you understand this method, use the map tour template as a guide to creating a tour table, for an even faster way of creating a story map.
  6. Use Mapillary to collect your own street view scenes and map them.  Download the app and begin collecting on a path on your campus or in your community.   Mapillary is an Esri business partner and I love using their tools for professional results without a great deal of work.  See my essay here for more information:  https://community.esri.com/community/education/blog/2017/03/24/examining-mapillary-views-in-arcgis-o....     

The capabilities of these tools continue to become more powerful and easier to use with each update.  Get out there into the field!

--Joseph Kerski

1 Comment
New Contributor II

Thanks Dr. Kerski! Will use this with my South African pre-service and in-service geography teachers! Jeff

About the Author
I believe that spatial thinking can transform education and society through the application of Geographic Information Systems for instruction, research, administration, and policy. I hold 3 degrees in Geography, have served at NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and USGS as a cartographer and geographer, and teach a variety of F2F (Face to Face) (including T3G) and online courses. I have authored a variety of books and textbooks about the environment, STEM, GIS, and education. These include "Interpreting Our World", "Essentials of the Environment", "Tribal GIS", "The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data", "International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS In Secondary Education", "Spatial Mathematics" and others. I write for 2 blogs, 2 monthly podcasts, and a variety of journals, and have created over 5,000 videos on the Our Earth YouTube channel. Yet, as time passes, the more I realize my own limitations and that this is a lifelong learning endeavor and thus I actively seek mentors and collaborators.