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Quadrat surveys on Mangrove forests in Borneo

Satellite view of Borneo within Mappt, where we will explore the ability to conduct Quadrat Surveys on Mangrove Forests.

Satellite view of Borneo within Mappt, where we will explore the ability to conduct Quadrat Surveys on Mangrove Forests.

The unique power and simplicity of Mappt lies in its’ ability to handle large amounts of data stored in layers with various formats and structures. This was previously very difficult to achieve in a device as small as an Android tablet. Gone are the days of lugging bulky laptops, hard drives, data folders and antennae of various shapes and sizes in order to complete field work tasks! Now Mappt even allows you to collect field data completely offline, without any connectivity dependencies to WiFi, cellular or otherwise.

We’re always excited about describing novel ways to digitise and store complex data within Mappt. Especially when prior data collection methods were particularly tedious to scribe (usually on paper) and then transcribe onto digital computers later for storage, formatting and analysis! This is true for the case of conducting Quadrat Surveys – a method commonly used in vegetation/coastal surveys designed to monitor all aspects of the environment, fauna and flora. Even just 5 years ago during my Environmental Science degree, we were still conducting Quadrat surveys with a physical Quadrat square made out of PVC pipe.. and we’d spend all afternoon writing out a huge range of data attributes by hand for each sampling location. Then of course, no one could ever find their field notes when it came to put the data together in group projects..

I’m getting a bit side-tracked, but it is legitimately exciting to return to Quadrat surveys with a savvy new digital tool in Mappt. Below I’ll go into detail on using the gridding tool for conducting Quadrat surveys, with a focus on mangrove areas in Borneo. Be sure to get out your tablets and load up Mappt to follow along!

Quadrat surveys using Mappt Grid Tool

To begin our excursion into quadrat surveys with Mappt, what we are doing is essentially achieving an identical sampling outcome using a digital version of a quadrat. This has many benefits; you don’t need to lug around and physically place a big quadrat on your sampling locations in the field, you won’t disturb any flora or fauna and you can rely solely on GPS within a handheld map on a tablet to know your location at all times. These benefits will all lead to higher quality data, whilst also greatly simplifying the field work process. Win-win!

borneo mangrove qudarat survey restoration rehabilitation

Defined mangrove restoration areas have been digitised in Mappt for quadrat sampling.

You will still need to define your quadrat areas and size etc first, following an established methodology. You can use random stratified sampling or another method to ensure statistical robustness in your quadrat sampling. Once this has been decided, you can produce precise GPS points for the quadrat survey and easily map out your points in Mappt. This is where the gridding tool comes in! To get started with creating a vector gridding layer:

  • Position the map centred on where you would like the grid to begin, you can enter precise GPS points after if desired
  • Tap on the  button to Add/Load Layer
  • Select ‘Insert Grid’ 
  • In the Grid Properties window, enter the specifications for your grid.

 

borneo mangrove sampling quadrat mappt grid tool

Once you have clicked Insert Grid in Mappt, this table will appear for customising grid properties.

You can change the grid’s position in the properties window that appears, by altering the Lat & Long values to match your precise sample location(s). In this table you can also set the cell units, number of rows, columns and cell size of the grid to match your Quadrat methodology. For example, if you plan on sampling 5x5m Quadrats, set the number of rows and columns each to 5 with a cell height and width of 1m. For the Borneo example, this will enable me to precisely map out survey points for mangrove flora within 1m2 squares within my 5x5m Quadrat. You can also set a bearing for the grid, if you need to have it laid on a particular angle over the landscape.

borneo qudrat survey grid tool mappt

Properties Window options for drawing your quadrat grid.

You can choose a naming convention for the cells within the grid using the drop-down in the Properties Window to suit your requirements.  In order to map points within the grid, you will need to set the grid type to Polygon. Lastly, be sure to set the Grid Type to vector for storing survey data within the Quadrat grid. Once you’re happy with your settings, click on ‘Create New Grid’.

Final list of options within the Properties WIndow for the Gridding tool.

Final list of options within the Properties WIndow for the Gridding tool.

Now we’re ready to start sampling with our fresh new Quadrat laid down! You should see something like the below on Mappt:

borneo quadrat survey mappt grid tool

Quadrat drawn over Borneo mangrove rehabilitation site using Mappt’s Grid Tool.

Adding Field Forms to Manage Complex Survey Data in Mappt

In order to begin adding sampling points within the Quadrat, we should first set up a field form so that we can quickly enter data for each new point in Mappt. To do this, long-press on the Quadrat layer you’ve just created to open the options table. Click on the Attributes Tab across the top then click the ‘Add’ button on the bottom of the page to begin adding data attributes.

Here you can add attributes to your field form for quick & easy data collection in the field.

Here you can add attributes to your field form for quick & easy data collection in the field.

There are a number of different Attribute Types that can be selected to fulfill different data format requirements. Select the most appropriate type for each of your desired data attributes. For example, for Species type/composition the best option would be a multi-select list, which you can fill out with a range of various species names to be included. Click on ‘Required’ and ‘Include in Wizard’ to ensure that a selection will be prompted each time a field worker adds a new point within a Quadrat survey. This is a great way to digitise the collection of a range of complex data, which is usually the case for Quadrat Surveys, in a simple form on a tablet!

borneo mangrove survey field data form

When adding a survey point, a list of Mangrove species to select appears from a pre-filled field form detailed above.

Repeat the above to add all unique data attributes required for your particular survey project. When it comes to adding survey points in the field, be sure that the appropriate Quadrat layer is selected for the survey data. Line up the crosshair on Mappt within the correct 1m2 square in the Quadrat, then click on the ‘Add Point’ button in the top-left of the Mappt screen. The Attribute Form Wizard will prompt the field worker to fill out the data for each attribute. Lastly, they will see a summary table in Mappt to confirm/rectify any issues before adding the point to the layer.

Field form summary table showing all the entries for each data attribute.

Field form summary table showing all the entries for each data attribute.

The field worker simply needs to repeat this for all the survey data they need to collect within each of the Quadrat areas that were decided for the sampling project! Mappt stores all of the data within the same project, which can easily be exported upon return from the field for use in a desktop or web-based GIS. Better yet, the project could be built in Mappt Air beforehand, so each field worker can simply upload their data to Mappt Air into a single, dynamic and synchronised project repository following each sampling exercise! No more duplication and recquisition of multiple data files streaming from an unmanageable amount of sources, no need for extensive time handling data management. For more info about this powerful collaboration & data synchronisation tool, check out the Mappt Air Website.

Exporting data from Mappt

To export the data manually, simply follow these steps:

  • Select the Export option using a touch gesture on the  button
  • Tick the boxes next to the layer(s) you would like to export
  • You are then able to select the format and delivery option for your data, each of these depending on your particular project requirements.

The Export window will ask you to select a file format to export from the list shown below. Shapefiles or CSV files will both be common outputs for Quadrat survey data, depending on the software that will be used for further analysis.

List of file format types to select for exporting your field survey data.

List of file format types to select for exporting your field survey data.

Following your data format selection, you will then be prompted to choose an output location for your data export. You can select to export the data to the file system of the tablet itself, or you can choose to export the data to external sources including Gmail, Google Drive and more for smooth data storage and management!

How do you use Mappt for field surveys? We always love to hear how our users are kicking their project goals with our favourite mobile mapping tool. Feel free to reach out to colby@takor.com.au any time with your success stories, and I’ll be sure to feature it in our blog. Also remember that support is always available if you have needs beyond this tutorial. No question is a silly question when it comes to GIS! You can reach out any time at support@takor.com.au with any queries.

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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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.

 

 

The Ultimate Fieldwork Preparation Checklist

How to successfully conduct a fieldwork expedition and enjoy yourself along the way.

This simple checklist provides a tool to ensure researchers, geologists, scientists or explorers are fully prepared for their journey.

We’ve also included some helpful tips and suggestions for an enjoyable expedition.

The Ultimate Fieldwork Preparation Checklist – Click Here to Download Free PDF

The-ultimate-fieldwork-preparation-checklist

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Mappt Case Study: Focused Vision Consulting

Date: May 201720160726_135601_resized
Organisation: Focused Vision Consulting
Location: Munster, Western Australia
Industry: Environmental

Background

Focused Vision Consulting (FVC) is an environmental and HSEQ (health, safety, environment and quality) consultancy, that brings together expertise across a range of specialist disciplines including ecology, environmental approvals, compliance, management systems, health and safety, quality assurance, site support and more.

FVC specialise in biological studies supporting a variety of industries. These include flora and fauna vegetation surveys and environmental assessments.

Problem

FVC were using paper materials, which were inaccurate and inconvenient.

They needed a more visual tool for when they were conducting surveys, mapping flora and monitoring vegetation. When FVC workers were out in the field they needed to have a comprehensive overview of exactly where they were going, what they were doing and what they were trying to achieve.

Solution

FVC decided to use Mappt after being recommend by a GIS professional. Mappt enabled FVC’s environmental practitioners to log a detailed account of their findings, map each finding’s exact locations, and view this data easily whilst out in the field with no internet access.

 

mappt graphicArborCarbon-Mappt-Screenshot2

 

 

 

 

 

 

FVC significantly reduced their paper materials and instead used one compact Android device to view, capture, store and share all their relevant data. The app made producing maps, figures and reports for their clients significantly easier, faster and more efficient. Some of the services FVC were using Mappt for included:

  • Flora and vegetation surveys
  • Threatened flora surveys and mapping
  • Vegetation condition and weed mapping
  • Wetland assessments and reclassification or boundary modification applications
  • Vegetation and rehabilitation monitoring programs
  • Terrestrial vertebrate fauna surveys
  • Conservation significant fauna and habitat surveys
  • Technical reporting of biological assessment or monitoring information
  • Environmental Management Plans
  • Environmental impact assessments and approvals

Outcome

Since 2015, Focused Vision Consulting has been using Mappt for all their projects and has not had any issues to date. Mappt’s utilisation of a light and compact device has transformed their environmental field work through its ease of use and mobile efficiency.

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How GIS is Saving the Day – 5 GIS Tools for Disaster Management

Earthquakes, landslides, floods and fires are just a handful of natural disasters that devastate areas, with some never fully recovering. Lives are lost, infrastructure is destroyed and entire communities are forced to leave their homes behind.

However, the way we handle emergency relief today has been entirely revolutionised thanks to the surge in use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

A GIS is a commanding technology that utilise the power of location based data. It can be used before, during and after natural disasters to significantly contribute to the emergency management of catastrophic situations.

Through monitoring, data collection, impact assessment and disaster simulation, the power of GIS is changing the way we pick ourselves up after an extraordinary event.

earthquake-1665878_960_720

Importing and Exporting Data

When disaster strikes, information can be the difference between life and death. Being armed with as much information and data as possible assists with prevention, preparedness, relief and recovery.

Mappt is a prime example of a GIS application that can offer substantial support during disaster relief.

The mobile application has the power to import GIS data, such as satellite imagery, electrical grids, maps of gas and water pipes, and provide the rescuer who’s out in the field with information they cannot see.

When disaster areas are covered in debris, flooded or up in flames, Mappt allows users to see what existed previously beneath their feet when searching for survivors or assessing damages.

wms

Offline

If the disaster zone’s internet access has been compromised, Mappt still allows users to access previously uploaded maps and data.

Once back online it is vital that the collected information is published and shared quickly and directly with relevant parties

Mappt also allows users to embed data onto a website, send files directly via email or upload to Google Drive, all within minutes!

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compact

Geotagged Photos

Being able to capture data exactly where it happened is also critical in disaster management.

Photographing and documenting damages not only provides emergency management with the extent of damages, but also assists in the determination of how and where a disaster first struck.

Having geotagged photos – photos with a GPS location – on a map significantly contributes to disaster relief and recovery, as they’re a far better visual aid than an ambiguous marker point, therefore ensuring rapid situation assessments.

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GPS Tracking

Continuously tracking emergency service workers is essential to coordinating disaster relief and immediate responses.

Because of Mappt’s advanced map tile caching, the application enables offline GPS tracking.

This allows users to roam in areas with no internet access, yet still access the exact patterns of their movements when out in the field.

Analyzing data involves tracking areas covered by emergency workers, making it ideal for off road route planning, calculating distances and helping workers find their way back to base.

Having this type of geospatial information at hand assists in decision making and resource allocation for emergency planners.

Geofencing

Disaster sites are extremely dangerous after a natural disaster, so keeping workers safe when entering hazardous zones is crucial.

Geofencing allows users to set up perimeters on their map to mark out exclusion and inclusion zones and keep workers safe or on track. It also provides the basis for vulnerability and hazard assessments.

If a user breaches a boundary, Mappt will sound a visual and audial alarm, and the event will be logged.

 polys

Points, Lines and Polygons

Flagging important areas or plotting key positions on a map, such as dangerous areas, survivors or debris, is extremely important in disaster management.

Mappt has several simple tools to create a personal and completely unique dataset using points, polylines and polygons.

Users can change the colour and style of points, customise line styles, and edit the opacity of the area within a polygon.

Our GIS also allows users to assign attributes to each feature, so you’ll know exactly why you highlighted a section.

This could be used to mark out flooded areas, burnt vegetation or a point of damage.

 mappt-splitting-tool

Disaster Proof!

In disaster relief, GIS is an invaluable tool for emergency management. GIS has an enormity of uses as it can manage huge levels of data required for vulnerability and hazard assessments.

When combined with GPS, geospatial tools assist in the search for survivors in areas that are difficult to access or see. They can also be used for planning evacuation routes and the integration of satellite data with other relevant data when designing early warning systems.

GIS can also be used to prepare complex prediction models, spatial databases and assist in creating appropriate contingency plans.

To sum it up – emergency management would be a disaster without GIS!

Mappt differs from other GIS platforms with its easy to use features, mobile and tablet integration, offline capability and our very affordable licenses.

Businesses in over 130 countries use our software due to its friendly interface and easy to use features, making Mappt the perfect GIS for those who need to act fast.

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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.

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