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Mappt User Story: Building Market Linkages for Smallholder Farmers in Uganda

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy nonprofit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor.

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A project enumerator collects data from a respondent using Mappt on a Samsung-SM231 in a rural village in Uganda

Laza Razafimbelo is a research associate at IPA in Uganda. He works on the “Market Linkages for Smallhold Farmers in Uganda” project. Prices of staple foods like maize, beans, and rice vary substantially in Sub-Saharan Africa, depending on the season, country, and region. Addressing the imbalance in food supply and increasing farmer income may require a multi-pronged approach that tackles multiple barriers at once. The project is evaluating the impact of contract farming services and a mobile technology-enhanced trader alerts system on food markets across Uganda.

Why did you need to use a  Geographic Information System (GIS) in the project?

Laza: In planning the project, it was decided that a Geographic Information System (GIS) was required for 2 reasons;

  1. As a management tool, we needed to use it to keep track of the data collection process.
  2. As part of the project, we wanted to map the road to our study areas and collect information along the route.

Why did you need Mappt?

Laza: Mappt is the best road mapping app we could find on the market after testing several. It has a great support and sales team. One may be tempted to use the bunch of free apps on the market, but this made the difference and the quality of data from Mappt is incomparable to other applications.

What problems were occurring before Mappt?

Laza: Internet coverage is a big problem. The internet is not always guaranteed since we mainly work in the rural area of Uganda. We  found that paper materials were messy and inaccurate. We tried to collect some of the data (travel time, etc)  manually, but the data was inconsistent due to the inaccuracy.

How did you use Mappt?

Laza: We were using Mappt to help us to add the transport cost into our analysis. With Mappt, we were mapping the main commercial routes of our study areas. With the same tool, we also collected other data such as road quality type, travel time, etc. We subscribed to 9 licenses for a period of 2 months and we managed to collect all the different data that we wanted using only one tool – Mappt.

Why did you choose Mappt over other software?

Laza: We chose Mappt for a number of reasons – cost efficient, ability to work offline, brilliant attribute features and vector layers, good GPS coordination system and great support and sales team.

So how did the project turn out?

Laza: We are done with the data collection and will start the analysis.

What was the most valuable thing about Mappt?

Laza: Reliable tool (never got a bug), great support and sales team.

Final question – would you recommend Mappt to others? Why?

Laza: We highly recommended Mappt for any mobile GIS work for its reliability and the great team behind it. We have tried a lot of other apps but Mappt is way better.

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Collecting field data using Mappt under the shade of a mango tree in rural Uganda

 

Try Mappt today by downloading it from the Google Play Store

 

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External GPS sources for Mappt. Part 1: Configuration

gis_manAre you looking to improve your positional accuracy in Mappt?  

Connecting to an external Bluetooth GPS can help!

We’re often asked about improving the positional accuracy information used by Mappt.  As you may know, Mappt uses the onboard GPS from your mobile phone/tablet.  While the on-board GPS accuracy may be sufficient for some types of mapping, others require higher accuracy.  To achieve this Mappt can utilise an external Bluetooth GPS feed.  GPS devices capable of streaming positional information via Bluetooth in the NMEA format are suitable for Mappt.

As phones and tablets are designed to utilise their own integral GPS hardware, Mappt users will need to utilise a third-party application to incorporate an external Bluetooth GPS feed.  These external Bluetooth GPS streams serve to oreplace the internal GPS service to thus provide higher positional accuracy.  Android refers to these apps as Mock Location Providers since app developers often need a GPS feed for coding and testing.  One Bluetooth streaming app compatible with Mappt is Bluetooth GPS (on Google Play).

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Bluetooth GPS is available on the Google Play Store

After installing Bluetooth GPS it’s necessary to enable Developer Options, accessed via the Settings on your device.  Developer Options can be enabled by first finding the Build Number (for our device* it’s under Settings-About Tablet-Software Information) and tapping Build Number seven times.  A notification will appear to inform you that Developer Options have been enabled.  Afterwards in Developer Options (Settings-Developer Options-Debugging), users need to select Bluetooth GPS as the Mock Location Provider.

Link to Youtube Video: Settings to Enable Bluetooth

Settings to Enable Bluetooth GPS for Mappt

Then connect to the external device via Bluetooth and start Bluetooth GPS on the tablet.  From the Select Paired GPS device and connect list, choose the device and tap CONNECT.  The screen will be updated with new location parameters.  You’re now receiving location information via Bluetooth! Check out this video showing how to enable an external Bluetooth GPS for Mappt

* The configuration can vary depending on your tablet or phone.

 

 

 

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How Mobile GIS is Revolutionising Forest Inventories

Protecting the hills, regulating streams, providing habitat for fauna, and producing that little thing called oxygen are all on a forest’s to-do list.

It’s tough being a forest and these jobs are just the tip of the iceberg, so how can we help them out and ensure they thrive?

Comprehensive forest management and sustainability largely depends on the quantity and quality of information available. This information or data is obtained from forest inventories.

Recent advancements in technology have already begun to improve the accuracy and efficiency of forest inventories, with the impact of emerging geospatial technologies still being realised.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are location-based tools that aid in the collection, analysis and visualisation of accurate data. Visualising this kind of tree data enables key stakeholders in the forestry industry to make informed decisions.

Forest managers, regional planners, arborists and conservation biologists need forest data to create actionable intelligence on the health and state of the trees.

With drastic developments in mobile phones over recent years, data collection, field mapping and mobile GIS have meant creating forest inventories has never been easier.

Below are several features some mobile mapping GIS and data collection tools have that can help revolutionise forest inventories.

Offline GPS Tracking

Offline GPS tracking is perfect for recording the exact movements of field workers. The offline component enables the device to be used in any remote location without internet access.

Mappt™ is a mobile GIS and data collection app, built for field workers that need to create, edit, store and share geospatial data. Mappt’s offline GPS calculates distances, helps workers to find targeted areas faster and provides evidence of the ground that has been covered. The offline GPS tool can be switched on and will work in the background while you get on with the rest of your data collection.

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Drop Down Forms and Points, Lines and Polygons

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 create detailed descriptions in customisable ‘drop down’ forms. Field workers can enter detailed or simple options on aspects such as tree diameter, height, observations, conditions, eco-zones, political or property boundaries, species, population, and any other characteristics.

Once these forms are created, the user simply selects the correct answer from the list as opposed to typing it in each time. These forms save time, reduces repetition and can cut down human error.
Mappt splitting tool

Geofencing

When conducting a forest inventory, serious consideration of boundaries and borders is needed to ensure data is accurately represented in each respective area. Mappt has a ‘geofencing’ tool which allows users to mark out areas that field workers should not disturb, such as wildlife habitats, heritage land or sensitive sites. It 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 workers in their tracks. Mappt will also log the event according to date, time and distance.

GET MY FREE MAPPT TRIAL

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Geotagged Photos and Map Annotation

Mappt enables field workers to take geotagged photos using the device the app is running on. This photo is then saved and geotagged on the map to the exact spot it was taken in.

Users then have the option to annotate the photo in-app for further data clarification. Using a pen tool, filed workers can draw on an image to (for example) circle areas of unfamiliarity or highlight where a sample was taken from. Users can also add shapes and text to the map itself both in satellite view and street view to highlight physical characteristics of the forest or draw attention to damaged forest areas.

Mappt annotations

 

The Future is Mobile

Mobile phones, tablets and handheld devices now have the capability of full sized desktop computers. Bolting a GIS onto your mobile device makes them an invaluable and powerful tool for undertaking forest inventories or any other kind of field work and data collection.

Due to the sudden advances in these technologies, many businesses operating within environmental and forestry industries are falling behind as they’re not realizing the potential savings these technologies can provide. Time is money and without the use of applications such as Mappt, the forestry industry is at risk of becoming an inflated production.

GIS field data collection software make creating forest inventories fast, smooth and simple. Some of Mappt’s other features include; importing and exporting various kinds of geospatial data; thematic mapping; cached Google Maps; and WMS and WFS feed capabilities.

GET MY FREE MAPPT TRIAL

 

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.

Mappt’s First Mini Conference in Perth

Two weeks ago we celebrated Earth Science Week by holding our first mini conference in our hometown, Perth!

We teamed up with tech giant Panasonic to “Unlock the Power of Mobile Data Collection”, and show how industry leaders are completing their field work and making discoveries that would have been tedious or near impossible without today’s technologies.

Our guests gathered at the brand new Ambrose Estate venue for a morning of insightful presentations, amazing door prizes, morning tea and the chance to network with professionals from a variety of industries.

The Presenters

Paul Barber, Director of ArborCarbon  – “Urban Forest Monitoring: Improving Sustainable Forest Management”

Paul Barber is a Forest Pathologist & Environmental Consultant with over 20 years’ experience in vegetation diagnosis, monitoring and management.

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Chris Devlin, Director of iSpatial Solutions – “From Field to Office: Integrating Efficient Asset Management and Reporting”

Chris Devlin has 22 years’ experience in the resources and earth sciences sector and helps organisations to define, develop and implement GIS focused solutions.

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Adrian Young, Product Manager at Spookfish – “Capturing Field Data with a Mobile Eye in the Sky”

After a decade of using geospatial technology to help state and federal government, Adrian has spent the past 10 years working with startups, enterprises and governments to take innovative geospatial technologies to market.

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Sean Mirzadeh, Panasonic Business Development Manager (WA) – “Panasonic: The Global Leader in Rugged IT”

With 10 years’ experience in sales engineering, business development and client relationship management, Sean is currently working on some of the major mobility projects for mining and oil and gas in WA.

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If you couldn’t make it, stay tuned as we’ll be uploading our speakers’ presentations to our YouTube channel.

After the presentations, we drew the prizes. One lucky guest walked away with an annual Mappt Standard licence, and the other a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT30 camera!

We then made our way to the balcony where we networked under the glorious Perth sun and enjoyed a delicious pastry… or four.

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Huge thanks to our speakers and everyone who made it; you guys rock!

To hear about future events, sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. See you next time!

Mappt 3.3.2 is here!

But what happened to Mappt 3.3.1?

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Mappt 3.3 is live

Here’s what new features and improvements are waiting for you

Read more

Mappt vs. Esri’s Collector

The differences between our mobile GIS and Esri’s mobile ArcGIS software