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3 GIS Tools that are Transforming Environmental Field Work

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Every year, billions of dollars are invested into industrial projects that can have damaging effects on our environment. It is therefore critical to monitor and understand the effects of human impact on the environment.

Current technologies have not only improved our knowledge and understanding of the environment, but also significantly enhanced the way we collect and capture this information.

In previous years, physical environmental evaluation and surveys were carried out by workers in the field, armed with paper, pencils, large flimsy maps and inaccurate location perceptions.

Today we need just one compact device to navigate, capture and visualise data during environmental field data collection. When combined with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), mobile data collection apps provide a simple yet multifaceted tool that’s revolutionising field work for environmental monitoring and surveying.

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Why GIS?

GIS relates to capturing and displaying locational data to easily visualise, analyze and understand patterns within their environments.

By studying factors such as vegetation, soil, fauna and land disturbance, scientists can determine the short and long term impacts of industrial projects and ensure accountability and longevity of our agriculture, infrastructure and mining industries.

Flora surveys are regularly undertaken to gather comprehensive information about an area of vegetation. Although modern technologies such as satellite imagery and drones are effective, manual in-person examination of physical subjects is still essential.

The type of data required can be difficult and time consuming to capture when only equipped with pen and paper. Thankfully, mobile GIS and data collection solutions have renewed this outdated method. Mappt™ is a mobile data collection application that provides several invaluable features for flora and fauna surveying and environmental monitoring.

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  1. Offline GPS Tracking

Mappt is built with offline GPS tracking to record the exact movements of where field workers have travelled. The offline component enables the device to be used in any remote location without internet access. Mappt calculates distances, helps workers to find targeted areas faster and provides evidence of the ground they have covered. GPS tracking also increases transparency to verify that sensitive sites have not been disturbed.

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  1. Drop Down Forms

The digital revolution is in full swing and the need for paper is diminishing. Environmental workers now have the power to use devices such as tablets or even phones to easily take notes on specific points, draw lines and view this all this information visually on a digital map. Mappt enables users to give attributes to specific points on a map and create detailed descriptions in customisable ‘drop down’ forms.

Field workers can enter detailed or simple descriptions on landforms, soils, vegetation conditions, period since last fire, disturbances or any correlation between vegetation and landform features. Drop down forms remove the need for traditional tables as the data can be pre-populated. The forms have intelligent pre-fill suggestions to reduce repetitive typing and cut down human error. Mappt also allows workers to import and export any kind of GIS data, maps or figures.

  1. Geofencing Quadrats

Quadrats are areas within a marked boundary within which data is collected. Mappt has a geofencing tool which allows users to mark out areas that field workers should not disturb, such as wildlife habitats, heritage land and sensitive sites. Geofencing can also be used to simply mark out the area you should be working in to assess a specific rehabilitation zone.

If a boundary is breached, an alarm will sound and an alert will display to stop you in your tracks. Mappt will also log the event according to date, time and distance.

Mappt has a number of other convenient, efficient and in depth GIS field data collection tools to make environmental monitoring a breeze. Some of these feature include; importing and exporting GIS data; geotagged photos; thematic mapping; cache Google Maps; and WMS and WFS capabilities.

For the full list of features, please visit our Features page or try them for yourself.

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Technology Empowers

Whether you’re conducting a biosecurity risk assessment, collecting entomology data or surveying flora and fauna, mobile GIS data collection has made tackling Earth’s challenges lighter, safer and faster.

Monitoring flora and fauna is not only important for ensuring ecosystems are protected but certifies for the durability of the mining, infrastructure and utility industries. Planning, monitoring and rehabilitating are environmental necessities made more efficient through the emerging technology of mobile data collection and GIS.

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Ssiobhan-profile2iobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.

Sources

http://www.epa.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/Policies_and_Guidance/EPA%20Technical%20Guidance%20-%20Flora%20and%20Vegetation%20survey_Dec13.pdf