The 11th day of XYMas….Mobile Data Collection

Jan 3, 2020 | Fulcrum

So flash back to 2002 or so. My manager went to a conference and won a GPS Backpack unit with receiver running windows mobile or maybe Palm OS (it was a thing) or something. I don’t even remember the brand. We were rocking (at my federal job) year 3 or 4 of creating ortho imagery. Yes we would fly an area and get film (yes film) and scan it (it was a pain) and then create ortho photos.

Most of the time we did one of two things:

  • If the client did care we used USGS 7.5 minute quads for control.
  • If the client did care we sent the surveyors out to mark control.

BUT – we had this new Backpack unit that collected Submeter GPS. We had a job and I decided “You know – we don’t have much of a budget so lets to collect out own information with this shiny new GPS Unit”. What a pain. I went out and collected data on the ellipsoid and messed it all up. I had to drive back and recollect the data. The surveyors laughed at me. Rightly so – I deserved it.

My first year in business i bought a cheap yellow GPS unit from Trimble (Juno) with arcpad.

Flash forward to 2013 and in order of the 4 things I’ve used in 2019 to collect data:

  • Fulcrum – So I discovered this one on a job and after reaching out to Spatial networks  I was in business. Create forms. Save your data to a big “cloud bucket” in the sky. It’s pretty simple.
  • GeoPaparazzi – Discovered this one day just digging around some FOSS4G software. So I drove around town recording my tracks and fixing some OSM data. Granted the name is a bit off putting for me  – BUT – it works pretty well.
  • QField – “Hey – can I run QGIS on a mobile device?” Well – yes with QField. Create a project and move that and your data over to your Android Phone or Android Tablet and collect data.
  • Input – “Hey can I run QGIS on a mobile device?” Well – yes with Input. Create a project and move that and your data over to your Android/IOS Phone or Android/IOS Tablet and collect data. This option takes it one step further with Mergin so you can take data from any device and push it to Input and then pull it back to your main computer.

At some point all of these will be a longer blog article. I’ve been telling myself that for a bit and I’ve started the Input one. Are there more data collection options? Yes – ESRI has a whole suite of data collection apps as well as Trimble – but I’ve not touched those.

So for the 11th of XYMas – Mobile data Collection ain’t that hard anymore. In fact there’s a scratch for all your itches. So go out and collect some data.


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