We’ve all heard of Esri’s cloud-based platform called ArcGIS Online, but you may not know about its capabilities. In this article I am going show how utilizing this platform improves a workflow for a utility performing smoke testing as part of a sanitary sewer evaluation study. Also, for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to assume that for both scenarios this hypothetical utility already has everything in place to make each scenario work. They will already have a GIS in place with good data, geodatabases, services, located infrastructure via GPS, smartphones, tablets, etc.
For this article I simply want to show the difference between the “traditional” desktop workflow to the “Cloud-base” ArcGIS Online workflow.
In the not so distant past, setting up this project utilizing a GIS was very cumbersome.
You had to:
- Make a mapbook
- Print the mapbook
- Create a data dictionary
- Create the project/mxd
- Load the project to a GPS device
- Locate all smoke sightings and fill in attributes
- Take a picture of those sightings with a digital camera
- Associate the pic to that location by entering the pic file name into a field (there’s more to this one)
- Sync all the collected data from the field into your geodatabase.
Remember that picture file name you entered in that field? You must import the pictures from the camera onto your computer and then create hyperlinks in the geodatabase to reference the pictures. Let’s hope no one fat fingered any of those picture file names!
Now let me show you this same process in ArcGIS Online.
- Create a “Smoke Testing” Web Map
- Have the free Android/iPhone Collector for ArcGIS installed on the smartphone or tablet
- Locate smoke sightings and fill in attributes
- Take a picture with the smartphone/tablet that is automatically associated with that point and stored in the geodatabase.
- Finish early, have a beer and watch the game in your favorite recliner.
Since ArcGIS Online is cloud-based, all data collected in the field is instantly automatically “synced”. When you get back to office your data is already there. Additionally, people in the office can see this data being collected in real-time.
The workflows described here were simplified. There are many different ways to tackle “Smoke Testing” using either platform and ideally your organization would be utilizing the ArcGIS Online hybrid approach to maximize potential.
If the first workflow we described sounds familiar to you, ArcGIS Online may be more important than you think. Got questions? Leave a comment below or contact me directly.