Monthly Archives: November 2015

Beyond Paper Maps: How McCormick Taylor’s GIS Experts Streamline Field Data Collection

 

GIS_wordcloud revIn honor of GIS Day on November 18—a day that spotlights and celebrates the world of geographic information systems (GIS)—as well as Geography Awareness Week (November 15–21), we’re highlighting the innovative technology used at McCormick Taylor to analyze spatial relationships and streamline workflows.

In recent years, McCormick Taylor’s GIS team has steadily expanded its capabilities through project experience and new hires. Our GIS group consists of designers, developers, analysts, and project managers who use cutting-edge technology. This article highlights efficient field data collection processes that go beyond paper maps using the Collector for ArcGIS app.

Collector for ArcGIS is a powerful, out-of-the-box solution that allows users to view, edit, and collect data in real-time using mobile devices. Users can work offline and access maps anywhere to ground truth and edit data, make observations, and then sync automatically once back online. It streamlines project setup time/costs and post-processing efforts. An additional advantage is that project managers, clients, and other subject matter experts have access to real-time spatial data without the need for expensive GIS software. This allows users to make informed decisions in a more efficient and collaborative manner.

Below are two examples of how our field teams utilize Collector for ArcGIS to improve data collection.

Environmental Scientist Ben Morrow uses Collector in the field.

Environmental Scientist Ben Morrow uses Collector in the field.

Watershed Assessment

McCormick Taylor’s Water Resources experts implement this technology to conduct watershed assessments in Howard County, Maryland to identify streams and outfalls that are ripe for restoration under the County’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) compliance and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) efforts. We developed a field data collection platform and deployed it to field crews at four different consultant firms. The crews traversed over 60 miles of streams within the assessed watersheds and spatially identified problem areas such as erosion sites, channel alterations, utility crossings, and more. For each potential restoration opportunity, an inspection form was completed and site photos and photo locations were captured and uploaded to a centralized database in real-time.

Asset Management

A project with the Maryland State Highway Administration’s Landscape Operations Division required field data collection of existing assets and vegetation. This entailed field verifying assets such as signs, structures, and traffic barriers, and collecting attribute information. Previously, this data was collected using paper maps and later entered into a GIS database once crews returned to the office. Now, field crews utilize Collector for ArcGIS to gather information in the field and save it to a GIS database in real-time, minimizing errors and the time spent developing a final database. This type of streamlined effort was not possible a few years ago.