The webmaps for the SOSC301 field trip are finalised and made ready to use in this post.

We’ve lately been looking at the process of setting up some web maps for SOSC301 to use on a field trip to beautiful Lake Tekapo.  We first looked at the specs of the maps and then looked at getting the data ready.  In this post, we’ll get a glimpse of the final maps, ready for action.

In between this time and last, a few things changed, namely that a larger area around the high resolution data would be needed and Peter managed to find a layer file for the glacial geomorphology layer.  We’ll look at that first – recall that layer files allow for consistent symbology with layers.  Using the layer file on the CSIGG layer gave us this:

Okay, so that’s more than a bit garish, but at least it’s consistent.  That layer was published and added to the webmap.  Peter also wanted the 1 m elevation contours displayed so I used the Contour tool to derive these from the LiDAR DEM and added them as well.

One final and critical layer to add.  The students will be out doing fun stuff like digging soil pits and augering and interpreting what they see.  For this, we’d like them to be able to capture the location and details of each of the soil pits and auger points on the map.  This amounted to creating a new point layer with the right attributes and was set up directly in ArcGIS Online as a feature layer.  Here it is in My Contents:

(The “Create” button is used to make this layer.)  The settings can be tweaked so that it’s editable by anyone with the right rights – that’s the key step that allows students to add and edit their own points in the field:

I’ve configured some attributes that will allow them to give each point a unique name, a text field for both a site and a soil description, set the date and also add some general comments.  The beauty of this is that the points get stored on the ArcGIS Online server for posterity’s sake (and for later use in soil mapping).  Photos can be uploaded and attached to each point as well.  Their phones become data collectors, replacing those hefty tricorders we all carry around.

With new extended areas around the station clipped and published, we’ve got everything together on one webmap:

Next up we can think about how this will get used.  As you might imagine, the fiendish ArcGIS developers have an app for that – Collector.  This app supports editable maps using webmaps.  For the SOSC301 students, when they open the app and sign in, they’ll see two maps (more about the second one later):

The first map uses the webmap we’ve been building up.  By tapping on it, all the layers as configured are available and can be turned on and off from the three vertical dots menu:

Plus, the “+” can be tapped and the survey points added.  Users can either place the point themselves or use the location from on-board GPS and also add in the attributes needed.

All this works fine (don’t quote me on that…  “fine” is an aspirational choice of word here) so long as they have a good cellphone connection.  On a recent reccie, Peter did notice that the signal may be a bit unreliable so that second map shown above gives us a plan B.  One of the nice things with collector is that, when set up properly, maps are downloadable to the phone and can be used when there’s not a good connection.  Later on, when a good connection is available (either via wifi or a cell signal), the collected points can be saved to the server.  Before they get on site, student’s will have ideally already downloaded the second map so it’s there if they need it.  We’ve seen previously how this has been used to chase down to Vanuatuan dragonflies where these was no signal.

So early next week we can expect to see some points appearing on the map.  In the next instalment, I’ll hope to update you on how things went and what happens with those data next.  This combination of data, webmaps and apps is doing a great job of demonstrating how GIS data need no longer be limited to desktops.  Web services make data available to the masses and extends everyone’s capability to collect field data to feed directly into GIS analysis.

Let’s just hope it works on the day…