Run multiple instances of Survey123 (to speed up data collection)

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05-24-2022 06:02 AM
MarkWilkinson1
New Contributor II

We have a collection of three surveys that we ask workers to use to create an inventory of public safety control measures at a given site. Control measures include signs, fences, gates, booms, barricades, etc. As the worker walks along, they will come upon different control measures that require them to switch between surveys.  This means that they have to close the survey they are using and then load the survey they need to use.  If all three surveys could be open concurrently, the worker could just switch between the surveys and a lot of time could be saved.   We are using Windows tablets, but I think this issue applies to Android and iOS as well.  I have tried using the Windows Sandbox to create a virtual environment so a 2nd instance of Survey123 can be opened and this scheme works but it is rather complicated.  I have to copy all the Survey123 folders associated the executable and the surveys into a temporary folder that exists only a long as the virtual machine is open.  It would require the worker to be very careful with the use of the copy of Survey123 running in the virtual machine to avoid losing all data collected during the session.

Are there any other ways people have come up with to streamline the use of multiple Survey123 surveys?  Is there a plan to add such a capability to the product at some point?

20 Replies
ThomasHamill
Occasional Contributor II

@MarkWilkinson1, it seems like you want to use geopoint for signs and booms, then geotrace for fences, gates, barricades, is that correct?  Do you have any features you need to collect with geoshape (polygon) representation?

I might suggest implementing a "featureType" or "structureType" select_one to provide an option for different features in a single Survey123 XLSForm.  Then you could use relevant functionality to show/hide the questions and fields that pertain to the item selected during one survey instance.

ThomasHamill_0-1653398334443.png

 

It's possible to use two or more different geometries (geopoint, geotrace, geoshape for points, lines, polygons) in a single Survey123 XLSForm as well, with some caveats.  See this tech page for more info about that.

 

Kindest Regards,

t
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MarkWilkinson1
New Contributor II

Thanks for the ideas @ThomasHamill . 

I should add a few details.  I used Survey123 Connect to gain access to features not available with the web designer.  The three surveys are based on lines (fences, booms, barricades, hand rails, roads, etc.). points (cameras, gates, buoys, boom anchors, etc.) and then the final survey is another points based survey for signs.  I made a survey dedicated to signs because there are many types and many attributes we collect.  The Excel survey is over 80 lines and there are over 400 lines in the choices tab.

Also, we do the data collection in isolated areas were there is no cell coverage.  We rely on TPK basemaps and GNSS receivers.

I will look at the article you mentioned and check out the possibility of combining the feature types into one survey.    

Something that immediately comes to mind:  I wonder how the mechanics of publishing and the creation of the survey Feature Layer (hosted) on our ArcGIS Enterprise server would work.  If a survey has various feature types, during the act of publishing, will the associated feature layer have point, line and polygon layers created automatically?   

I will have to do some experimenting.

Thanks.

Mark

MarkWilkinson1
New Contributor II

@ThomasHamill  I played around with a new survey that included a geopoint and a geotrace.  I might be missing a key aspect of how two feature types can be combined in a survey because I couldn't come up with a usable survey design.  If I just add two straight features, a geopoint and a geotrace, when I try to publish the survey I get an error saying only one geometry field is allowed per table.  If I add bind::esri:fieldType set to null as per the article, then the survey will publish but then I don't see how I can record any spatial information associated with a line.  For example, I filled in a record that included a line I drew and uploaded the record.  What I ended up seeing on the feature class (hosted) map was a single point sitting at Null Island (0 deg lat 0 deg long) and no line sitting anywhere.  I guess you could record information for a locationless line of unknown spatial characteristics but I don't see the value in doing that. 

As I mentioned above, I hope it is just a case that I am missing something.....

Thanks,

Mark

ThomasHamill
Occasional Contributor II

@MarkWilkinson1, take a look at this generic form (attached) showing use of  multiple geometries, two geopoints and one geoshape, in a single survey.  I learned how to do it from this thread.  In my demo example, the geopoint named "Device_Location" is a "primary feature" of sorts, meaning the subsequent geometries (which have to be listed under repeats)—a geoshape named "Feature_Boundary_Polygon" and a geopoint named "Feature_Center"—will be related to the  "Device_Location" point.  One could configure the parent/child geometries differently, depending on what's needed for the survey design.  For example, one could use a geoshape (for a polygon) as the primary geometry and then have a geopoint, a geotrace, and another geoshape be in the form (all related to the first geoshape).  Note that there will always need to be at least one geometry outside a repeat if multiple geometries will be used in one form.  Note that I put a "1" under the repeat_count (Column P) for the secondary features, because I want only one boundary polygon and boundary center point per survey device point.

Kindest Regards,

t
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MarkWilkinson1
New Contributor II

Hi @ThomasHamill ,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.  Your idea looks quite interesting.  I just created a new survey using your Excel file and will do some experimenting. 

I noticed that when I tried to publish the survey, I got the error about the requirement for the field names being all lower case.  Is there a setting that allows you to use mixed case as you did in your Excel file?  We have Enterprise / Portal and I learned that it has a 32 character limit  for field names so I had to shorten magneticVariation_DecimalDegrees before I could publish. 

I will make another post after I play around with the survey.  

Thanks for your help,

Mark

ThomasHamill
Occasional Contributor II

@MarkWilkinson1, I haven't run into that lowercase character syntax requirement for field names in Survey123 before, but the 32 character limit stands in Survey123 Connect and the XLSForm system.

Did you try a Google search of the exact phrasing of the error message you received?  I wouldn't be surprised if that lowercase requirement is coming from an Enterprise/Portal configuration.

I publish my Survey123 Forms exclusively through Survey123 Connect (into ArcGIS Online) and haven't seen that before—field names that use camelCase and underscores are acceptable and forms that use them aren't prevented from being published/deployed to ArcGIS Online, in my experience.

Kindest Regards,

t
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Chris_Anderson
Occasional Contributor

If you need three separate surveys, what about adding them to a Dashboard or Experience Builder? You can add the surveys to  multiple "frames" and dock them on each other and change via tabs at the bottom of the screen. The only negative is you have to use the Web form to enter data. But this could be a starting point.

MarkWilkinson1
New Contributor II

Hi @Chris_Anderson,

Thanks for the idea of looking at frames and docking.  However, as I mentioned to Thomas, I use Survey123 Connect and everything is set up for offline use.  I will check out the Dashboard and Experience Builder options though as I might find another use for them or maybe an idea will come to mind for my current application.

Mark

magisian
Occasional Contributor

What about using drafts? You can save the survey, complete another survey, and then return to the main one? I would say that is the capability you are looking for. Set the Instance name to make it easier to identify the survey:

https://doc.arcgis.com/en/survey123/desktop/create-surveys/xlsforminstancename.htm

Alternatively I'd revisit the survey design and data collection workflow.

  • Can the single large survey be broken into separate chunks to complete + submit + move on; consider related tables, repeats etc
  • Can the additional survey requirements be incorporated into the large survey and UI improved to help users navigate?

I'm not aware of other mobile apps that let users open multiple sessions concurrently, so imagine the development requirements for this on several operating platforms would be almost impossible for the Survey123 team to implement. They are generally receptive to ideas but given the draft folder exists I'm not sure what value having this functionality would bring to all users. If you can ratify this, consider placing an idea, but be open to rephrasing the requirements. i.e. "have multiple surveys open concurrently in the Survey123 app, similar to tabs/windows in Chrome" may be more achievable than running multiple app sessions.