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Mappt & QGIS Workflow: Using Drones to Enrich Field Assessments

DEM Dubai Airport Satellite Imagery Digital Surface Map orthomosaic sentinel 2 multispectral bands satellite imaging corporation

When it comes to fieldwork, the best outcome (aside from zero injuries) is to return having collected as much high-quality data as possible. We all want to ensure our project goals are reached successfully, so using a wide variety of relevant data to address the project criteria is a good strategy. An example of this is producing high resolution Digital Surface Maps (DSMs) using drones to complement field surveys conducted on-foot. These DSMs can provide additional information such as elevation, NDVI indices and more to complement the field survey data. 

DEM Dubai Airport Satellite Imagery Digital Surface Map orthomosaic sentinel 2 multispectral bands satellite imaging corporation

Digital Surface Map of Dubai International Airport by Sat Imaging Corp.

The workflow below describes the process for creating a DSM with QGIS to produce a data-rich field map, which complements field survey operations conducted using Mappt.

The Mappt team conducted a field survey at Kensington Bushland, in which we collected a range of points to characterise the local vegetation using Mappt.

Kensington Bushland, City of Victoria Park, walk leisure recreation natural park for

Kensington Bushland, City of Victoria Park

Each survey point contained a range of attributes for the field worker to fill out on location, including plant species, condition, time, % coverage etc. We created the attribute form using Mappt’s handy drop-down feature to collect all the field data. This was of course put together and pre-loaded prior to heading out into the field, like the intelligent and efficient field workers we are 🙂

(Click HERE for a free copy of our Ultimate Field Checklist)

Of most interest for this assessment was the species and condition of vegetation at the field site. The project goal was to explore trends that may explain any gradients in the species structure, coverage and/or condition. We collected additional drone imagery over the survey area, which was used to provide valuable complementary information on the vegetation community.

 

Now that we’ve returned from the field in good spirits and relatively unscathed, it’s time to begin our workflow process for the field survey!

Loading Mappt data into QGIS

First, we want to export the survey data collected using Mappt and bring it into QGIS. To do this, we want to navigate to the saved project file within Mappt and then click the export icon. We then want to select all layers, choose the GeoJSON format for QGIS, then choose to export to external apps, lastly selecting Google Drive as the export location. (See below)

Mappt user interface field mapping collecting georeferenced images for vegetation assessment screenshot_20190605-110141

That’s it, put down the tablets people! You’ve successfully collected and exported your field data from Mappt. Pretty easy right?

Now we want to move over to our desktop computer and load the Mappt data in for further processing in QGIS. Open up a new project in QGIS and check that the CRS projection is set to WGS 84 (under Project > Properties).

Next, add Google Satellite as a base layer for your project (click on the Web > QuickMapServices > Search QMS, then click on Google Satellite in the window that opens in the bottom-right).

 data-source-manager-icon

Click this icon to Import the Mappt data from Google Drive into QGIS through the Data Source Manager.

 

 

Now double-click on the Vector file in the Layer Window to make any style changes desired. For my data, I have characterised survey points into species type and given them different colours. I also filled in the polygon for the reserve area, and indicated my survey entry and exit points with coloured lines.

mapptdata

Now you’ve got your Mappt survey data looking schmick in QGIS, it’s time to bring in the drone images to create a DSM overlay! First, we will need to combine all the photos from your drone together into the one orthomosaic (to rule them all).

Creating a Digital Surface Map using Drone Deploy

Go to http://dronedeploy.com and create an account if this is your first time using it. Then simply upload all your images into the window and drone deploy will create an orthomosaic for you! You can change the processing time by toggling the speed vs quality bar under the ‘Advanced’ tab. Click ‘Upload Images’ to begin the process.

It might be time for a tea break now, as this does take a while.

drone deploy mapping software online orthomosaic creator drone imagery

Once the map has finished processing, you have the option to export the orthomosaic as a natural colour GeoTIFF, as well as NDVI index and Elevation map. Export any that you want and ensure they are GeoTIFFs.

Now, we want to bring QGIS back up and load in the files, once again using the Data Source Manager.

raster-icon Click this icon within Data Source Manager to load the GeoTIFFs as raster files.

Again, we can change the opacity and style of each layer to get the desired style. For my orthomosaic, I chose to reduce the opacity of the natural colour layer so that the elevation can be seen.

orthomosaic-data

There are some interesting features of the elevation that seem to overlap with some patterns in the vegetation structure! We should create a map to show the boss.

Creating a map in QGIS including Mappt survey data and DSM data

print-layout-icon To do this, we want to click on the Print Layout icon in QGIS.

This opens a blank page from which we can begin to draw our map.

addmap-iconIn the Composition Window that’s just opened, click the ‘Add Map’ icon.

Then click and drag an area over the canvas in the window to produce a map. The map produced is based on the view in your main QGIS window, so you may need to do some final style tweaks to finalise the image.

map-icons You can then add a Title, Legend and Scale bar to your map using their respective icons.

You can customise all of these to your liking by clicking on the feature then using the ‘Item Properties’ window on the right to adjust the information displayed.

imageicon Next, add a North Arrow by first clicking on the ‘Add Image’ icon.

Then, navigate over to the ‘Item Properties’ window and click on the ‘Search Directories’ drop down. Here you will find a number of images that are suitable as a North Arrow.

Lastly, click on the map itself and navigate through the item properties until you find the ‘Grids’ drop down (See below). Click on the green plus icon to add a grid, then click Modify Grid to set the scale. Once your grid is displayed nicely, lastly change the frame style to ‘Zebra’ and then close out.

grid

Voila! Your map is now complete for reporting. For my data I’ve found a pattern between increasing elevation on my DSM, and abundance of Banksia menziesii. Neat!

QGIS map of kensington bushland created using mappt and drones to produce digital surface map and vegetation survey data

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Field Mapping in Geology: Mappt User Story

Geologist in the field using a smart device to measure strike and dip on a rock formation

Geologist in the field using a smart device to measure strike and dip on a rock formation.

Geologists working in the field often require various measurement and mapping instruments to record and distribute geological information, while working in tough environmental conditions.

Mappt is a mobile GIS mapping tool that enables geologists to simplify their arsenal for completing mapping projects in the field. Paul Wright, a Senior Exploration Geologist, loves the ease of use and features he can take advantage of for his field work, simply using Mappt and a tablet device.

“I like the adequate but not over the top functionality which makes learning it easy. Just enough to collect the critical aspects and get on with the job”

-Paul Wright, Senior Exploration Geologist

Mappt also makes use of the internal accelerometer of smart devices. This enables a suite of additional mapping features to provide important orientation measurements in the field, including strike and dip. Combined with the GPS functionality of such devices, field measurements and data can be recorded in Mappt without the need for cellular/WiFi.

Mappt strike and dip field data acquisition tool

pitch roll and yaw measurement collection with smart device field data measurements using mappt

 
Paul is currently working on a porphyry copper project in Central Qld, where he is due to launch into a geological mapping exercise. He will be using Mappt to quickly and accurately digitise polygons whilst in the field. Additionally, Paul can save himself a lot of time collecting orientation measurements of geological structures using Mappt’s strike & dip feature. After his initial experience with Mappt, Paul feels confident in its applicability for larger scale mapping projects in his portfolio. The wealth of features and simplicity of the Mappt solution will enable Paul to conduct his operations in the remote and challenging conditions in Papua new Guinea.
We look forward to continue working with Paul to provide a convenient and effective mapping solution for his work in central QLD and PNG.

-story by Colby ‘Big Dawg’ Bignell who recently joined the team at Mappt.  Colby has an exciting CV including implementation of shark detection and deterrent devices!

Colby "Big Dawg" Bignell


If you would like to know more about using Mappt as an efficient and robust field inspection utility, please contact us at: support@mappt.com.au

Try Mappt today by downloading it from the Google Play Store

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Mappt User Story: Urban Planning in Carlos Chagas City, Brazil

A street scene in Carlos Chagos City, Brazil

A street scene in Carlos Chagos City, Brazil

Project Name: Technical Scientific Cooperation on Urban planning using Georeferencing and Geostatistics

Date: 2019

Company: Federal University of Viçosa

Location: Carlos Chagas City

Industry: Education

 

Background

  • What is the company? What does it do?

We have a scientific research group on developing new methodologies for urban land planning. Using georeferencing through drones, Geoprocessing, Geostatistics and MoT, Maps of Things, we are transforming the public policy of poor Brazilian municipalities and making them sustainable.

  • What was the background situation?

Urban land planning has always been a problem for Brazil. On average poor municipalities have never done a cadastral survey or it’s been 20 years since the last one.

Problem

  • Why did you need to use GIS?

In urban land planning the vertices of the minimum unit, called portion, must be georeferenced (required by current Brazilian legislation).

  • Why did you need Mappt?

The Mappt app was used to edit the attribute tables in the field by adding important and customised information about the features.

  • What problems were occurring before Mappt?

The usage of paper materials made the work messy and inaccurate.  Costs due to inaccurate data were higher than licensing Mappt for our field workers.

The alternative software available don’t have the features we needed. They also aren’t as intuitive as Mappt.

Objective

  • What was the overall objective of the project?

Developing new methodologies for urban land planning, using georeferencing through Drones, Geoprocessing, Geostatistics and MoT – Maps of Things. When we realise that our actions can give the expected sustainability in the project, then we create public policies and institute them in the municipalities.

 Solution

  • How did you use Mappt?

The app was used on a Tablet device, importing the features of the interested areas, adding physical and social information as needed for each address, such as pedology: -sandy –rocky –hard …; topology:  -rise -descent –level … ; etc.

  • What problems were solved?

The biggest problems were the inaccuracy of the data, since it was written on paper, the staff would check the wrong options.  The white paper also has a high reflectance, causing headaches for our staff.  Within 4 months of work, the amount of money that was saved on paper could even buy another device (Tablet). The number of people needed on each team on the field was reduced from 3 to 2, and in the office, to 1 person.

Urban planners utilising Mappt in the field

Urban planners utilising Mappt in the field

Orthophotos, JP2 images, loaded into Mappt

Orthophotos, JP2 images, loaded into Mappt

The visualisation of previously taken orthophotos and GPS position plus tracking helped the team to locate themselves and associate the polygons with the physical object.

The measurement of each team’s daily productivity allowed us to estimate precisely when the work would be finished.

We tried other apps available on the Google Play store, but none of them allowed editing the attributes by visually clicking the feature.  This makes the app very easy and intuitive to use, no knowledge of GIS software was needed.

Cadastral boundaries and building footprints in newly developed areas of Carlos Chagas City

Cadastral boundaries and building footprints in newly developed areas of Carlos Chagas City

  • Why did you choose Mappt over other software?

The choice of this app was based on its easy and intuitive interface. The field team found no difficulties in learning the steps to record information. Also no prior knowledge of GIS software is required for field data collection.  Initiating new team members is a quicker and therefore cheaper.

  • What Mappt features did you use?

All the work was done offline, even though an internet connection wasn’t required for this work. The paper forms became obsolete since Mappt allows users to edit directly on the attribute table, avoiding errors at the transcription stage.

Utilising the attribute to verify and update existing cadastral data. Note that Mappt is available in Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, Indonesian, Turkish, Hindi, Ukrainian, and Russian

Utilising the attribute to verify and update existing cadastral data. Note that Mappt is available in Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, Indonesian, Turkish, Hindi, Ukrainian, and Russian

Outcome

  • How did the project turn out?

The project was executed more efficiently and the clients were really satisfied.  Our clients even considered using the app themselves to update data from time to time.

  • What was the most valuable thing about the app?

The visualisation of orthophotos was undoubtedly the feature that most helped the field team to get their work done with precision. The style customisation of the polygons also helped them colour code the addresses that still required a site visit.

  • Did it save you time or money?

The amount of money saved is measured by the number of people that are not needed anymore; one person for each field team, and another one in the office to process the day’s field data. The amount saved on paper, would be used to pay for Mappt licenses and tablets over time.

  • Would you recommend Mappt to others? Why?

We sure do! The app is amazing, very stable, even when the devices got really hot, since a lot of sun light shined on it, it didn’t crash. The app doesn’t need high system requirements, the device we used was a Samsung Galaxy Tab A SM-T280 – 2016 (RAM: 1,5Gb; Internal Memory: 8Gb; Processor: Quad-Core 1.3GHZ; Battery: 4000mhA).

If you would like to know more about using Mappt as an efficient and robust field inspection utility, please contact us at: support@mappt.com.au

Try Mappt today by downloading it from the Google Play Store

 

homeritoSpecial thanks to Homerito Meireles from the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil for authoring this article.  We’re gifting Homerito a Mappt lithium battery pack for his efforts.  All contributors for user case studies receive a free battery pack for their efforts.  Contact us at:  support@mappt.com.au to submit your user case scenario and receive a free battery pack.

Use the Mappt Lithium Battery Pack for backup power on those long field days

Use the Mappt Lithium Battery Pack for backup power on those long field days

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Mappt On Your Laptop.

How to experience Mappt on your laptop/desktop using Bluestacks.

Running Mappt on Windows using the Bluestacks Android emulator

Running Mappt on Windows using the Bluestacks Android emulator

We’re often asked, ‘Can Mappt run on my desktop?’.  Generally no, unless you use a Google Chromebook or another laptop using Android as your OS.  But to our gaming and other users who want the best of both worlds, Android games/apps running on a Window’s PC, there’s Bluestacks 4, an Android emulator.

Bluestacks installs as a desktop application on to which you can install Android apps from the Google Play Store.

The Bluestacks Android Emulator for Windows

The Bluestacks Android Emulator for Windows

We found that Mappt installs easily on Bluestacks and your existing Mappt license key can be used here too (though you may have to enter it each time you restart Bluestacks).  Bluestacks should appear and function much like the OS on your Android device.  Note that many laptops do not have an onboard GPS.  While Bluestacks does make use of your laptop/desktop’s positional information, the position is likely gained via wifi or other positional sources.  *We have not tested Bluestacks in the field for positional accuracy.  You may want to add accessory apps like a file browser to make finding files within Android easier.  Moving files on and off Bluestacks is achieved using the Media Manager app (found under More Apps on Bluestacks v4).

Bluestacks Media Manager

Bluestacks Media Manager

The Bluestacks Media Manager for importing files to Bluestacks

The Bluestacks Media Manager for importing files to Bluestacks

In short, the tool brings files from your Win OS to Bluestacks.  You can use the Import/Export to Windows tool to bring files across.  This launches a Windows Explorer window where you choose files for import/export.

Browsing for zipped shape file

Browsing for zipped shape file

Zip file imported to Bluestacks

Zip file imported to Bluestacks

Here we’ve brought across tracks.zip, a zip file containing all files relevant to a shape file.  *When importing shape files to Mappt, we recommend zipping them prior to the transfer and upload to Mappt.  Mappt has the capacity to unzip the contents on upload.  By default Bluestacks drops the file into /root/storage/emulated/0/DCIM/SharedFolder.

Browsing for files on Mappt

Browsing for files on Mappt

 

From Mappt choose to load a shape file from the filesystem and choose the relevant zip file.

Tracks loaded to Mappt

Tracks loaded to Mappt

Unloading data created within Mappt in Bluestacks also uses the Media Manager.  On unloading the Media Manager will let you copy files to any directory on the Windows OS.

 

If you would like to know more about using Mappt as an efficient and robust field inspection utility, please contact us at: support@mappt.com.au

Try Mappt today by downloading it from the Google Play Store

 

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Quick Field Inspection Reports From Mappt

Mappt continues to prove itself as a versatile tool with new and innovative uses occurring regularly.  This post focuses on implementing field inspections and in-field reporting using Mappt. 

Using Mappt to perform on-site roadworks inspections

Using Mappt to perform on-site roadworks inspections

A recent client inquired about Mappt’s ability to generate in-field inspection reports suitable as a client deliverable.  As an agnostic data collector (i.e. unhindered by proprietary data formats) Mappt renders data in various formats – both GIS-specific (e.g. shapefiles) and generic (e.g. .csv files).  As an efficient data capture tool, Mappt gives users the flexibility to create field forms following a natural data collection hierarchy and progression.

Completed roadworks inspection report from Mappt

Completed roadworks inspection report from Mappt

In this instance, we were provided with the client’s standard field inspection report and tasked with developing a workflow within Mappt for capturing all data to be included within the report and to provide functionality to generate reports in-field as a client deliverable.

The client’s standard six page inspection report was inclusive of seven unique data types covering the following categories;

  • General Parameters: date, time, inspector, weather
  • Site Photos: works in progress & comments
  • Roadworks by Location:  specific road locations & activities
  • Manpower Classification: job classifications and aggregate hours
  • Equipment Type and Number:  equipment in operation on site
  • Quality Assessments: assessments of roadworks to design
  • Safety Compliance: titles and names of responsible parties, proper signage, etc.
Segregating inspection data types into Layers improves data management

Segregating inspection data types into layers improves data management

Breaking each category into separate layers was deemed most effective as some categories were not required to be populated during each inspection/site visit.  For example, inspections might occur when the contractor was offsite and therefore recording the “equipment in operation on site” was unnecessary.  In addition, a single category might include upwards of forty-five attributes.  Including the possibly hundreds of features in a single field form is less ergonomic, requires the user to look at their screen for an extended period, and possibly unsafe as the user could become unaware of equipment operating nearby.Creating a comprehensive layer inclusive of 45 attributesCreating a comprehensive layer inclusive of 45 attributes

A unique but useful utility in Mappt is the ability to call up Google Street views directly from Mappt.  It is useful for orienting site visitors who may be unfamiliar to the project or for inclusion into a client deliverable such as these field reports.

The Google Street View Icon lets can help orient users to new locations

The Google Street View Icon (red circle) launches Google Street View on your tablet

Google Street View captured in Mappt helps users find new locations

Google Street View captured in Mappt helps users find new locations

After data collection for the inspection report has been completed the data are exported as comma separated values files.  Using a previously formatted spreadsheet workbook, the data is imported to a data input worksheet and a second formatted worksheet makes reference calls to the first to generate a print-ready field inspection report.  Users can than render the report in a printer friendly format (e.g. .pdf) and email it to the client.  Spreadsheet software for Android tablets includes MS Excel, Google Sheets, and Polaris Office.

Formatted field inspection report with reference calls to input sheet

Formatted field inspection report with reference calls to input sheet

Visualising Roadworks Inspection Information on Your Desktop

To visualise the roadworks inspection information on your desktop, first share the layers from Mappt as either GeoJSON or Shape Files and them import them to your desktop GIS system.  We mentioned that each feature contains numerous attributes and it may be necessary to call this information up ‘on-the-fly’ to recap previous inspections or track progress onsite.  Tool tips in QGIS are an effective means to call up attribute information, especially text information like this.  By calling up the display properties for your layer, it’s possible to call up any attribute information possible using HTML syntax.  Referencing an attribute is as follows; [% “AttributeName” %].  Using <br> ensures that a carriage return is used and any text typed in will also appear in the tool tip.  You’ll need to enable map tips from the View tab in QGIS to switch on map tips.  When map tips are enabled, hovering your mouse over a feature in the active/selected layer will cause the tool tip to appear.

Syntax used for displaying multiple attribute information in QGIS

Syntax used for displaying multiple attribute information in QGIS

 

Displaying information for features with multiple text attributes in QGIS

Displaying information for features with multiple text attributes in QGIS.  

This exercise highlights how Mappt can simplify field inspection report generation and improve data integrity.


Harmeet Kuar developed the workflow for: Quick Field Inspection Reports with Mappt

Harmeet Kuar developed the workflow for: Quick Field Inspection Reports with Mappt

By Harmeet Kaur

Harmeet Kaur is a recent Geographic Information Systems graduate from the University of Western Australia and has recently completed an internship with Takor. While at Takor, Harmeet focused on developing workflows to improve Mappt’s in-field usability and has contributed to many of the blog posts you see here.


If you would like to know more about using Mappt as an efficient and robust field inspection utility, please contact us at: support@mappt.com.au

Try Mappt today by downloading it from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store

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Mappt User Story: Protecting African wild cat species in Zambia

Panther's staff use Mappt on a daily basis

Panthera’s staff use Mappt on a daily basis

Dr Jake Overton is with Panthera, an NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) devoted to the conservation of the world’s 40 wild cat species and their habitats.

The large cat species of Africa (Cheetah, Lion, Leopard, African Golden Cat, Caracal, and Serval) are under constant threat from poaching, illegal game trapping and habitat loss.  Big cat protection must be undertaken in a dynamic environment – the cats are constantly moving while illegal hunters never seem to take a rest.

Protecting large cats in Africa involves managing highly mobile animals over large areas.  Maintaining spatial awareness through mobile GIS systems is what makes Jake’s job more effective and ultimately improves big cat conservation outcomes.

“We use GIS for so many things – from ecological analyses to field planning.”

-Dr Jake Overton, Panthera

However, there were technical boundaries to utilising this GIS information in daily activities.  Panthera went searching for an interactive utility combining GIS and GPS in a portable device.  They found their solution in Mappt.  Prior to using Mappt, Panthera’s field crew had taken laptop-based GIS applications in the field – but crucially they weren’t linked to live positional information.

Panthera field staff now use Mappt on a daily basis for collaring and survey work.  Jake relies heavily on real time positioning available in Mappt for help in navigating remote areas without existing maps.  Another feature Jake has found especially helpful is the ability to load aerial images and cache Google Maps images for use offline in remote areas.

The view from Panthera's front office. Sioma National Park, Zambia

The view from Panthera’s front office. Sioma National Park, Zambia

Having the ‘big picture’ available, in terms of geospatial information, is essential for protecting big cats and their ecosystems.  Panthera’s objective is to protect wild cat species and the the environment that supports them.  Beyond traditional ‘protect and preserve’ practices, Panthera aims to provide thriving ecosystems to help wild cats again reach sustainability levels.

Mappt Mobile GIS is used to assist animal collaring in Sioma NP, Zambia

Mappt Mobile GIS is used to assist animal collaring in Sioma NP, Zambia

by Darren Smith

Mappt has a been game-changer for many organisations who rely on accurate geospatial information to improve efficiency and accuracy.

Try Mappt today by downloading it from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store

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Ground-truthing Saltmarsh Vegetation Communities with Mappt. Lindisfarne Island, UK

lindisfarne_collage

Lindisfarne is a tidal island located off the north-east coast of England covering 405 hectares (1,000 acres). Whilst small, measuring 4 km in width 2.5 km in length, the island habitats consist of thriving saltmarshes, sand dunes, and tidal mudflats.  The island is known as a spectacular habitat for viewing migrating birds.

The coastal salt marshes of Lindisfarne formed when salt tolerant plants colonised the adjoining intertidal areas. The region’s high tidal variation has created an environment endemic to the islands unique range of flora and fauna.

How Mappt Assists Uni Students in the Field

Post-graduate research students enrolled in an International Marine Environmental Consultancy course provided by Newcastle University, UK, successfully used UAV imagery and Mappt to identify saltmarsh vegetation communities around Lindisfarne Island.

Students used stratified random sampling to collect ground truth data in order to train predictive mapping models for object-based image analysis of drone imagery. Students identified eight vegetation communities for predictive mapping.  Method “C” was found to have the most successful prediction rate.

Tidal plant communities on Lindisfarne island mapped using image-based object analysis of drone imagery

Tidal plant communities on Lindisfarne island mapped using image-based object analysis of drone imagery

Vegetation Communities Identified for this study

Code & Salt Marsh Plant Community Name

SM13 Puccinellia maritima
SM14 Halimione portulacoides
SM15 Juncus maritimus-Triglochin maritima
SM16 Festuca rubra
SM28 Elymus repens
SM6 Spartina anglica
SM8 Annual Salicornia

 

For this study, Mappt was connected to a Trimble Catalsyt GNSS (via bluetooth) to stake out quadrats, navigate to sampling areas, and store field data.  *Mounting your tablet to the GPS pole as was done for this study is advantageous as it frees up your hands for other important tasks.  We like how Paula took advantage of soft soils to ‘plant’ her GPS and tablet while referring to her comprehensive list of 864 unique National Vegetation Classification sub community names.

Using Mappt in conjunction with Trimble GNSS to map tidal plant communities

Using Mappt in conjunction with Trimble GNSS to map tidal plant communities

Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive and included the following;  

Uploading shapefiles was easy

Sampling points when overlain on drone imagery were easy to navigate to  

Sampling points could be made invisible after data had been collected

Students Share Their Excitement for Using Mappt

Students Share Their Excitement for Using Mappt

Students at the university of Newcastle plan to use Mappt for their future projects such as; sand dune monitoring, rocky shore habitat mapping, and measuring the impact of activities such as bait collection from the intertidal area. In this way, Mappt is helping university students to map and collect data on-the-go effectively.

 

Mappt is available for free to educational institutions.  Here’s how to become an educational partner with Mappt.  

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1m Positional Accuracy in Mappt using Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor

Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor & Mappt Mobile GIS

Measuring 60x100mm the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor can provide 1m accuracy

Measuring 60x100mm the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor can provide 1m accuracy

Thanks to the helpful folks at Bad Elf, we recently got our hands on the Bad Elf Surveyor Bluetooth GNSS* for testing with Mappt. Combining Mappt with an external source of positional information delivers higher  accuracy than using the on-board GNSS for mobile phones and tablets. It also reduces battery consumption and CPU load on your mobile device.

Vendors like Bad Elf also provide applications offering enhanced functionality for data logging, device configuration, and data QC. Using external GNSS sources makes determining your position less “black box” and more hands-on when it comes to resolving your location and understanding the level of accuracy provided.
Compact and Compatible
Paring the Bad Elf GNSS with Mappt follows the same procedure we’ve detailed in a previous blog. The compact design (100x 60x20mm) and long lasting battery make the Bad Elf a handy field companion for mobile mapping and data collection. With a small LCD screen yielding important GNSS information, the Bad Elf keeps you well aware of the positional information available to you.

GNSS information available from the Bad Elf's compact 35x25mm LCD screen

GNSS information available from the Bad Elf’s compact 35x25mm LCD screen

Increased Accuracy
When either mapping or collecting data in the field, increased positional accuracy is always a plus. Often it’s necessary to revisit the field to account for seasonal changes (in the case of environmental sciences) or for relocating benchmarks or critical infrastructure such as utilities. The Bad Elf Surveyor offers up to 1m accuracy, an improvement over the 3-5m accuracy achievable with tablets and mobile phones.

 

How does it do that?
The Bad Elf Surveyor uses information from three satellite constellations; GPS, GLONASS, and QZSS. Thus from wherever you are globally, there’s an increased probability that you will have the required four satellites to resolve your position. Many devices derive location from a single satellite constellation thus limiting the amount of satellites available to them. The Bad Elf Surveyor also implements SBAS, Satellite Based Augmentation System, to gain positions within 1m. Serving as an augmentation to Global Navigation Satellite Systems, it works by collecting raw positioning data from regional Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS), computing error corrections, and sharing these corrections to users via a geostationary communications satellite. While southern hemisphere regions don’t have their own SBAS, Australia is currently implementing its own SBAS test-bed to be operational by January 2019.
Alongside SBAS, the Bad Elf Surveyor also implements PPP, Precise Point Positioning, which removes GNSS system errors providing a high level of position accuracy from a single receiver. This solution depends on GNSS satellite clock and orbit corrections. These corrections are delivered to the receiver via satellite to provide positioning accurate to within several deicmetres.

 

Mobile Device GPS Behavior Versus Dedicated GPS Units
Mobile device GNSS chipsets have been designed to compliment an integrated system (your tablet/phone) delivering a wide variety of applications. Just count the number of apps you’ve downloaded from the app store. Can you imagine carrying a separate component for each of these?  These mobile applications are optimized to reduce load on the system by reducing battery consumption and processor load. The optimisation for mobile GPS chipsets puts limiting battery usage at the top of the list with time-to-fix location second and positional accuracy third. Dedicated GNSS devices like Bad Elf devices flip this priority on it’s head, placing positional accuracy first followed by time-to-fix and lastly the reduction of battery power. While it may seem like the Bad Elf would quickly run out of juice, it can continuously stream Bluetooth GNSS information for 24 hours. We have yet to see a tablet with that type of battery power!

We took the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor to our favourite bushland, Signal Hill Park

We took the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor to our favourite bushland, Signal Hill Park

Mapping Tips n Tricks Learned Using the Bad Elf Surveyor
Creating Polygons in Mappt –  Turn on the enter polygon tool and record each significant point of the polygon (corners and inflection points) as you walk out the perimiter. This ensures that corners/vertices are not shortcut and an accurate shape of the area is recorded.  It’s possible to create polygons in Mappt using the GPS Tracking tool, then walking out the perimeter of the polygon, and finishing off by converting the polyline to a polygon to enclose the area. This method helps when moving continuously (such as when in a vehicle) as you don’t need to stop and record points around the area. However the points associated with your polyline are created at the frequency of GPS updates from your device and you may end up not recording those key corner points!
GNSS Location – Place your external GNSS device in a way that provides a clear view of the sky. Some websites suggest affixing the GNSS face-up to the top of your hat! While you will have great reception, this limits the opportunity to check parameters on the LCD screen. Affixing the GNSS to a surveyors staff gives you both a walking stick and place to mount your tablet. This setup affords both good GNSS reception and makes data entry easier as the tablet is held steady by the staff.  Note:  The team at Bad Elf are currently developing hardware designed with rapid mobile mapping in mind.

The crew at Bad Elf are working on a clever monopole mount for the Bad Elf Surveyor

The crew at Bad Elf are working on a clever monopole mount for the Bad Elf Surveyor

Bad Elf has developed an integrated GPS and mobile device monopole for rapid mobile mapping

Bad Elf has developed an integrated GPS and mobile device monopole for rapid mobile mapping

Bad Elf GNSS Logging – The Bad Elf allows continuous logging of points. After a hard day in the field, it’s nice to know how much ground you covered. Logged information can be downloaded as GPX files and visualised in desktop GIS solutions such as QGIS.

Signal Hill Park Map from QGIS. Bad Elf track points (orange) displaying the total ground covered in this mapping exercise.

Signal Hill Park Map from QGIS. Bad Elf track points (orange) displaying the total ground covered in this mapping exercise.

*GNSS, Global Navigation Satellite System, is the collective term for all navigation satellites groups (constellations) including GPS.

 

If you would like to know more about configuring an external GNSS to work with Mappt, please contacts us at: support@mappt.com.au

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Returning to Paradise with Mappt: How the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort Utilises Mappt to help Native Plant Re-vegetation

Lady Elliot Island, Queensland has taken on Mappt to assist native plant re-vegetation

Lady Elliot Island, Queensland has taken on Mappt to assist native plant re-vegetation

Lady Elliot Island is an idyllic 40 hectare coral cay, located 84 kilometres off the Queensland coast. It is the southernmost coral cay of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The surrounding waters are known for their clarity due to the island’s southerly location and distance from the mainland. Its proximity to the Australian continental shelf is believed to be linked to the availability of food for manta rays, for which the island is renowned.
Human Impacts
By the late 1800’s, guano mining had removed significant amounts of material lowering the island by 1 – 1.5m. The guano was used in the manufacture of agricultural fertilisers. Goats were also introduced about this time as a food source, and were subsequently removed in the late 1960’s. The island remained baron until the establishment of a small low-key tourist resort in the late 1960’s, which has been credited with starting a revegetation program also contributed to by the lighthouse keepers.
Many species of plants were introduced in the early years, a lot of which were not native to the coral cays of the southern Great Barrier Reef. Positive revegetation efforts continued over many years. Current efforts are focused on removing the introduced exotics and replacing them with native species to build the island’s resilience to climate change.

Lady Elliot Island, LEI, Ecco Resort is replacing introduced plants with natives. Mappt Mobile GIS has been implemented as the preferred field data collection and validation tool for LEI's re-vegetation program

Lady Elliot Island, LEI, Ecco Resort is replacing introduced plants with natives. Mappt Mobile GIS has been implemented as the preferred field data collection and validation tool for LEI’s re-vegetation program

Where Mappt Comes In

Mappt has been selected to help manage and monitor re-vegetation efforts on Lady Elliot Island.  The LEI Ecosystem Resilience Plan has been developed based on the Queensland Herbarium’s ‘Regional Ecosystem Model’, identifying appropriate native species best suited to this environment.  The modular delivery approach is ‘step-wise’ with a nominated area being prepared and re-vegetated prior to another area starting.

Functionality such as ‘geofenced exclusion/inclusion zones’ and buffering (a new feature in Mappt) are useful tools for this type of work.  For example, ‘exclusion zones’ help keep activities within, or outside, designated zones.  Buffering tools assist with activities adjacent to aircraft runways to manage Civil Aviation Safety Authority requirements.

Mappt Mobile GIS is used in-field to help workers locate areas for revegetation on Lady Elliot Island.

Mappt Mobile GIS is used in-field to help workers locate areas for revegetation on Lady Elliot Island.

Mappt for Better Land Management

Mappt is an intuitive, easy-to-use field data collection application that lends itself to a variety of disciplines including land management, agriculture, and sustainability programs. Important ecosystems such as Lady Elliot Island benefit from careful management supported by up-to-date geospatial information.

Lady Elliot Island staff using Mappt to direct contractors on re-vegetation activities

Lady Elliot Island staff using Mappt to direct contractors on re-vegetation activities

Contact us today to learn how Mappt can be of benefit to your field mapping and data collection activities.

Re-vegetation polygons on Lady Elliot Island. Note the buffering polygon surrounding the island's runway.

Re-vegetation polygons on Lady Elliot Island. Note the buffering polygon surrounding the island’s runway.

 

 

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It’s time to upgrade!

Mappt version 3.10.1 is available on Google Play.

mappt-3-10-1-mobile-gis-and-data-collection

Dear Mappt Community,
Version 3.10.1 has hit the Google Play store & it includes some important updates so make sure to update Mappt on your device before August 30, 2018 to ensure continuity of your field data collection activities.

Mappt on Google Play

Thanks for being part of the Mappt Community!
As always we’re keen to hear from you!
Kind Regards,
Ciaran Doyle

Product Manager
Takor Group Ltd