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Using low-cost downloadable Apps and inexpensive, second-hand consumer devices to gather data is readily accessible and straight forward – but what do you do with the data and how quickly can you deploy? In short, you still need some professional support to set up an end-to-end system and make it work for you… but still at little cost!
ISL has a number of examples of using inexpensive, downloadable forms software in combination with consumer grade devices and smartphones (sometimes second hand); examples include street inspections in Palestine and litter bin mapping and condition surveying in a UK West Country local authority.
The primary objective for both these solutions was to quickly deploy a solution quickly with little cost!
The UK Authority had a tiny budget for this project… and used a student to carry out the field work! This meant that data had to be gathered methodically to ensure reliability using field staff with no previous experience of the survey. There was no internal resource to create a custom app and the offering of the GIS provider was priced so high that it was cost prohibitive.
The aims of the project at the local authority were to:
(1) map the location of each litter bin by logging the GPS coordinates (which then had to be editable in a GIS)
(2) evaluate the condition of each bin by answering a series of questions and take a photograph
(3) evaluate the usage – non-domestic/non-trade bins in the district
(4) log any actions required
ISL provided an App and second hand Android smartphones with data automatically stored in the cloud.
Due to the success of the bin survey the client also asked ISL to create a form for their bin installation contractor so the fitting of new bins could be logged using an iPhone app.
The software ISL deployed ensures that questionnaires are easy to setup even with a number of options (free text answers, multiple choice answers, prompts for photos, auto GPS fix etc.). Multiple questionnaires can be set up and sent to specific or multiple devices / users. Multiple users can use the same forms and the results compiled together in the cloud (the device name is automatically saved for each form completed). The solution is really easy to use and above all else… cheap!
For any questions or advice on data gathering please contact us on 02380 737 983.