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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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GeoTIFF conversion to ECW/JP2 for use with Mappt

geotiff of satellite imagery shown over google earth map data

Satellite imagery and various forms of map data are commonly stored in GeoTIFF formats.

Which is your favourite Map data format? GeoTIFF, JP2, ECW? Is there any you can’t use in your current circumstances?

It is likely that you may have handled a variety of different GIS data formats throughout your career. Perhaps your company is migrating to a new software provider or changing their data management protocol. Or maybe you’ve just received a set of map data from an external source that’s in a different format to what you’re used to. For whatever reason, converting map data to different file formats is a regular activity in the life of a GIS professional.

Mappt is a mobile field mapping solution that allows you to utilise a great degree of flexibility in the types of contextual data that can be displayed. Map imagery data can be brought in to Mappt in either JP2 or ECW format. These formats bring a lot of advantages in their compressed file sizes and tiling features, which make it much easier to load imagery in smaller tiles for offline mapping. It is also possible to load very large, detailed maps in this format within Mappt, up to 1 gigapixel and beyond for Mappt PRO users. This grants the ability to view high resolution imagery even whilst using Mappt completely offline!

Given the popularity of GeoTIFF as a GIS data format, we decided to write a guide detailing how to convert these files to either ECW or JP2 file formats for the best use of Mappt.

Data conversion programs

In order to convert GIS files, special programs are usually required for new GIS formats to be written. A number of software programs are available to do so, and it is likely that your workplace will have access to at least one of them. For this guide, we will be using Global Mapper, which is a very useful and affordable program suitable to complete the file conversion.

global-mapper-featured

 

The first step here is to run Global Mapper and click on the folder icon to load your GeoTIFF data. Before this stage you should also check the projection of the data is correct for your workplace requirements. If it is not correct, change it in your regular GIS program beforehand.

Converting GeoTIFF data for Mappt

Once you have loaded the data in to Global Mapper, simply click File -> Export -> Export Raster/Image Format to begin the conversion process. A pop up will ask you to select a file type from a drop-down menu. It is here that you can select ECW, JP2 or otherwise depending on your requirements. Once selected, clicking OK will bring up the window shown below.

ecwconvert

 

In this window you can toggle the compression ratio, which will determine the final file size. For example, a lower ratio. eg 5:1 will result in a larger file than a ratio of 20:1. You can also select the metadata file formats to generate in this window, to match the program(s) you will be loading the data into following conversion. Everything else can stay at their defaults.

If you wish to clip the data at all, you can click on the ‘Export Bounds’ tab at the top of the window. Here you can click ‘Bounding Box’ to draw a custom box around the data you want included in the output.

Lastly, click OK to complete the conversion process and the program will ask you to specify a file name and location for the output.

Loading Imagery in Mappt

Once the above is completed, you will have your new data format saved on your drive and ready to load in to Mappt! To do this, you just need to send the data to your Android tablet running Mappt. You can do this via your preferred method (Email, Google Drive etc) and load it into your tablet’s filesystem. From here, follow the directions below within Mappt to load your data.

loadmappt loadecw

 

Now you should be equipped to convert and load imagery data into Mappt for your mobile mapping needs. 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 info@takor.com.au with any queries.

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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 environment that supports them.  Beyond traditional ‘protect and preserve’ practices, Panthera aims to provide thriving ecosystems to help wild cats again reach sustainable 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.