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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

Mappt User Story: Researching primitive termite species in outback Australia

We caught up with Nicholas Hart at our offices in Perth this week. Nicholas was the 2017 winner of the “Takor Group prize for GIS” at the University of Western Australia.

Nicholas continued his studies at UWA in the School of Biological Sciences and recently submitted his thesis focusing on  primitive termite species in Australia.

Termites collected from a fallen tree

Termites collected from a fallen tree

We got the lowdown on the objectives of his thesis and how Mappt helped with the extensive field work involved in his research.

Mappt: G’day Nick. So tell us a bit about what you have been doing this past year….

After completing my degree in 2017, I decided to stay at UWA to pursue an Honours degree. The subject that I chose for my thesis was “Population and Landscape Genetics of a Primitive Termite Species” which was something my tutor had some experience with from research he had done decades ago so there was existing data on a broad and fine scale. The goal of my study was to relate genetic patterns in termite populations to spatial patterns in the landscape. In an ancient land like Australia, the landscape is stable so there is a lot of time for genetic patterns to emerge between populations. Extensive field research in 3 disparate outback locations was required so that was another thing that attracted me to the subject.

What locations did you visit for research? I am picturing wide open barren plains – how do you locate a tiny creature like a termite in such a vast landscape?

I spent time in the Pilbara region in Western Australia as well as areas around Darwin and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. So yes – difficult places to find little insects but once you get used to the landscape and know what to look for, it actually becomes surprisingly easy to pick out the termite colonies – even at distance.

A screenshot from Mappt showing geotagged photos from study sites around Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia

A screenshot from Mappt showing geotagged photos from study sites around Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia

Why did you need to use GIS?

GIS was important as each data point has genetic information and it all had to be related to landscape features.

What type of landscape features are we talking about?

I needed to look at termite populations that were genetically distinct and see if there was a landscape feature separating the populations. Examples of landscape features are elevated areas which would have acted as refuges during ancient sea-level rises, big rivers with floodplains or even deep cracking clay soils.

So basically anything that would have separated one termite population from another for varying periods of time?

Correct. I found that the scale of the genetic patterns was related to the scale of the landscape variables that defined them.

Overview of some termite populations (yellow icons) separated by a landscape feature (in red)

Overview of some termite populations (yellow icons) separated by a landscape feature (in red)

Why did you need Mappt?

I needed something to assist with the collection of samples in the offline environment. I wanted something that would be an alternative to pen & paper, and swapping between a hand-held GPS and a digital camera. Mappt facilitated all of this in one device.

We often get asked about hardware so I’d be interested to hear what device were you using.

I used my HTC One Android smartphone.

So a pretty small screen then?

Yes but I found it usable for my purposes.

What Mappt features did you find most useful in the field?

I used the GPS tracking tool for orientation & navigation around the study sites. I created custom forms for collecting attribute data at each study site. I had some reference spatial data for some of the study sites which I loaded in to Mappt. I also captured a lot of spatial data – mostly as points – and took a lot of geotagged photos. Keeping a photographic record of the study site was important for investigating how the disturbance of the habitat affected the population and to relate the fine-level data collection with the broad-scale landscape features and thus identify populations for comparison. All the spatial data was exported to shapefile and I conducted analysis on the data using QGIS and R in the office.

A termite-infested tree in Western Australia

A termite-infested tree in Western Australia

Summing up then – would you recommend Mappt to others?

Yes definitely. For zoological and botanical field work, it is a definite advantage. There is less equipment and “stuff” to carry.  Everything is stored together – spatial points, geotagged photos, attributes, navigation & orientation – so there is less administration whilst at the study site. When it comes to planning, it is a definite time-saver and I also found it was easier to adapt with Mappt to changing conditions when in the field.

A custom data collection form template for the termite population study

A custom data collection form template for the termite population study

That’s great feedback. So what’s next for you?

Well I submitted my thesis this week. Yesterday, in fact. It’s been pretty hectic to get to this point so I am looking forward to a break. But there is plenty of potential for further work in this area so I am considering more academia in the future. But first a break.

Thank you for your time, Nick and all the best in the future.

by Ciaran Doyle

Mappt is a mobile GIS and data collection app for smartphones and tablets. It enables field operators to easily map and capture data offline in remote areas using their GPS-enabled tablet or mobile phone.

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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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

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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.

enumerator

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.

mangotree

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 2: Mapping in the Field with RTK GNSS (survey-grade GPS)

In our last post we covered how to configure your tablet or phone to receive an external GPS signal via Bluetooth.  Here we share our experience of linking up Mappt with survey-grade RTK GNSS (Real Time Kinematic Global Navigation Satellite System) to achieve centimetre-level positional accuracy.

 

Utilising RTK GNSS and Mappt for centimetre-level positional accuracy

Utilising RTK GNSS and Mappt for centimetre-level positional accuracy

Achieving Survey-Grade Positional Accuracy with Mappt

Joe user asks, “Hey how can I achieve high positional accuracy with Mappt?

The short answer is, “Bluetooth to an RTK GNSS to achieve centimetre level accuracy“.

What’s GNSS?

GNSS, is the collective term for all satellite positioning systems which includes GPS (USA), BeiDou (China), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (Europe), IRNSS (India), and QZSS (Japan).  Phones, tablets, and survey-grade systems use satellites from multiple positioning systems, thus we’re referring to these systems as GNSS (rather than GPS).

The Benefits of Using Mappt in conjunction with RTK GNSS

Mappt’s flexibility and onboard functionality helps users achieve the full benefits of high accuracy RTK GNSS while in the field.  For example when using Mappt in conjunction with RTK GNSS, users have in-field access to these mapping tools;

  • Locate and save point features with unlimited attributes
  • Thematic Mapping gives users the ability to colour code mapped information while in the field
  • Layering of data types to achieve hierarchal data structure and visualisation
  • Interactive functionality (exclusion & inclusion zone warnings) improving field safety
  • The ability to display web-based aerial/satellite imagery and other GIS information such as WMS, WMTS, & WFS
    • With a data connection, this data is continuously updated as you move to new areas
  • Offline display of high resolution aerial and satellite images (ECW, JP2)
  • Multi-user data capture & updates using MapptAir.

RTK GNSS Gear

In our previous post we detailed how to configure your mobile device to receive location information via Bluetooth.  Thanks to Mangoesmapping and Ascon Surveys both for their technical support and equipment (on loan) used to complete our trial.  We found the Emlid Reach RS RTK GNSS units (available from Mangoesmapping) suitable for this trial.

Our Field Experience

The following data was acquired in less than one hour (including setup and pack down of the RTK base unit and survey pole mounted rover unit).  Data collection in this small urban bushland was on-the-fly as point types were added as deemed necessary.  Points types collected included kerb locations, footpath limits and walking tracks.  Point types were added to our field form as necessary thus the list of point types was added to as new elements were observed.  *To save time, a dropdown list of point ID’s can be created prior to leaving for the site.  In the limited time spent onsite, three point IDs were all that was necessary.  We also utilised the geotracking utility to map in the trails crossing the site as well as to create a geofenced area at the park’s centre.  Lastly we tested Mappt’s geofence alerts feature by entering and exiting our geofenced area.  Have a look at this video showing how it works.

Mappt mobile GIS data gathering using RTK GNSS at Signal Hill, Belmont, WA

Mappt mobile GIS data gathering using RTK GNSS at Signal Hill, Belmont, WA

What we took away from the experience.

It was a simple step to download all data gathered to shape files and import them into QGIS.  We mapped in such features as the back of kerb, footpath limits, and bush tracks.  RTK GNSS units have the ability to validate/qualify positional information with an audible “Fixed” to indicate that positional information is within your specified accuracy.  Likewise when the positional information is below spec an audio warning “Float” will alert users that possibly more time at that location is needed to gain a fixed position or that trees or buildings are hampering satellite reception.  Our recommendation is to have this activated on your RTK GNSS receivers to eliminate collecting data of low positional uncertainty (occurs in areas of high tree cover and when adjacent to tall buildings) .

QGIS map showing GIS data gathered using RTK GNSS and Mappt

QGIS map showing GIS data gathered using RTK GNSS and Mappt

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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).

bluetooth-gps

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.

 

 

 

Nowhere to Park? Let Mappt Help.

How Mappt became the antidote for an illegal parking headache

The parking lot at Camino Del Rio Offices is often impacted by illegal parking

The parking lot at Camino Del Rio Offices is often impacted by illegal parking

Parking Management with Mappt

-South Coast Equities (SCE) manages an office building in San Diego, California. A recent building upgrade included the addition of a shared workspace facility suited to an evolving workstyle, the freelancer.-

Mary Walsh, office manager at SCE, remarked “Tenants love the new workspace. It provides a workplace for freelancers that otherwise might not be available to them in this area.”  Mary noted also since our tenant demographics have changed, there’s new challenges, especially parking as freelancers are more mobile and don’t tend to keep ‘regular 9-5 schedules’.

Prior to installing the shared workspace, tenants were very predictable, arriving in the morning and leaving late afternoon often choosing the same parking spot daily. Mary says it made parking management easier, “we knew who was coming and going – and when”. The new challenge is to ensure that parking is available for freelancers who often park for shorter periods and for traditional tenants as the building is regularly impacted by illegal parking from other nearby office buildings and offsite businesses.

Mary uses Mappt to quickly enter attributes for each occupied parking space

Mary uses Mappt to quickly enter attributes for each occupied parking space

Tackling the issue
“If someone uses our parking lot illegally and limits parking, our tenants become unhappy and threaten to move, which translates to lost revenue”, says Mary.  She set about manually recording parking lot usage but found there were two disadvantages to this; taking too much time to write down information about 40 parking spaces on a daily basis and the headaches associated with sorting through paper records.

But there was a light at the end of the tunnel for Mary.  “Then I found out about using Mappt customized field data collection forms and I thought, well now I can get a handle on this!”

Mary went about setting up a form for capturing parking data attributes and off she went….

After surveying the parking lot, field data is exported to Excel (via CSV files) and combined with previous days’ surveys. Once the data is within a tabular format, filtering helps to determine who the repeat offenders are.

Each marker includes multiple attributes to help manage parking issue.

Each marker includes multiple attributes to help manage parking issues.

What does Mary have to say about Mappt?
“We’d prefer not to tow vehicles so Mappt serves as a good visualisation tool when speaking with nearby business about ‘overflow’ parking issues.  We made an arrangement with a nearby steakhouse (Bully’s East) allowing their employees to use our parking in the evening when parking isn’t an issue.”

Could Mappt possibly map better?
We asked Mary if there was anything we can do to improve Mappt.  Her one request, “As an addition to the geotracking tool, put a burnt calories tracker on it too. Because right now I feel hungry for Bully’s prime rib!”

Calories Per Hour Using Mappt