Tech Spotlight: How ArcGIS Apps Can Change Your Field Operations

November 17, 2016

Achieving productivity in the field hinges on your organization’s ability to share information that’s accurate and up to date. Esri has developed a series of out-of-the-box field apps that streamlines the flow of information to seamlessly connect field crews and office workers. Thanks to web GIS and the release of free apps available through ArcGIS Online, it’s never been easier to deploy apps to field crews with mobile devices to gather and share information throughout an organization in real time.

Esri’s location-based apps optimize your field operations in several ways. They create improved workflows to replace repetitive and outdated stand-alone field work processes; make data available across your enterprise so operations run more smoothly; and monitor field activities accurately to improve reliability and consistency. ArcGIS field apps also leverage low-cost smart devices for accurate data collection, navigation and workforce activity reporting – even in disconnected environments.

Let’s take a look at four apps that will improve the productivity of your field operations. These apps can be used together on the same device. In fact, they have been designed specifically to work in tandem to tackle your field workflows.

Workforce for ArcGIS

Maybe you’ve dreamed of an app that could turn your GIS into a virtual dispatcher that coordinates all your field activities? Something that can finally replace paper-based workflows, that works on smartphones and tablets, that’s budget-friendly, and that doesn’t require extensive user training. Even better, a solution that seamlessly works with other ArcGIS apps for the field. That dream is now a reality thanks to Workforce for ArcGIS, an end-to-end mobile solution that delivers better coordination and teamwork for your field workforce.

Back-office staff use Workforce for ArcGIS in a web browser to assign work, monitor progress and locate workers in real time. Field workers use the Workforce mobile app to receive assignments and communicate status. They can easily view and process work assignments, provide updates on work status and inform others of their location—all from one device.

Workforce for ArcGIS delivers real-time visibility on the status of field workers' assignments as they accept and complete assignments throughout their shifts. 

Currently available in iOS, Android and Windows 10, Workforce for ArcGIS integrates into your GIS to ensure everyone uses the same authoritative data, which reduces errors, boosts productivity and saves money. Initial use cases include field inspections; service requests, maintenance and repair activities; permitting; and One Call (call before you dig) tickets. Best of all, Workforce for ArcGIS is included in your ArcGIS Online subscription.

Navigator for ArcGIS

So, all the field work has been assigned, now your crews need to know where to go. Enter Navigator for ArcGIS, a mobile app that gets your field workforce where it needs to be. A commercial-grade solution, Navigator for ArcGIS allows you to navigate vehicles on your organization’s custom data and street network. Search by asset ID or location and easily plan your day by creating a work list of all your stops. When you’re ready to get rolling, Navigator for ArcGIS calculates the most efficient route and provides turn-by-turn directions, even for your private road networks.  

Depending on a vehicle's road capability, height and weight, and curb approach guidelines, Navigator for ArcGIS intelligently calculates the most efficient route for that vehicle type. 

Navigator for ArcGIS works in online and offline mode on consumer devices (e.g., smartphones) and commercial products (e.g., ruggedized tablets). Because you have the ability to assign your organization’s centralized, up-to-date basemap, Navigator for ArcGIS eliminates the risk of crews working off of different map versions, helping your organization avoid errors by ensuring users always access the most accurate, enterprise-wide information.

You can augment or replace information with your own custom street network data, so your staff can navigate street networks that are not available from any commercial data vendor. This is especially useful when managing assets such as oil wells, forest stands and utility poles that are typically off the commercial street network. Navigator for ArcGIS also taps into your existing geodatabase, giving you the ability to search for assets already managed in ArcGIS. Navigator for ArcGIS is a premium app available at an additional cost through your ArcGIS Online subscription.

Survey123 for ArcGIS & Collector for ArcGIS

Your crews have arrived at their destination and are ready to get to work. If they need to gather data, you can equip them with an intuitive, form-based app using Survey123 for ArcGIS. This mobile solution allows you to easily configure surveys that are simple or complex using a configurable Excel worksheet. A built-in deployment model turns your surveys into apps without any additional effort on your part, and with no coding required. In the field, crews can use mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, to quickly and accurately collect data by selecting predefined questions that use logic and provide easy-to-fill answers. The app requires little-to-no training and data captured is secure and cannot be deleted or manipulated.

Survey123 for ArcGIS allows you to configure form-centric surveys that support accurate field data collection.

If your field crews require a map-centric data collection app, Collector for ArcGIS is your go-to solution. Using Collector for ArcGIS, field crews can create new GIS features and update existing features using their smartphone or tablet device. Feature locations can be captured using GPS or by tapping on the map. For mapping your authoritative content, this app pairs well with highly accurate GNSS/GPS receivers so that you can collect data with spatial accuracy. Simple, intuitive data-driven forms power the capture of standardized and consistent data along with photos and video that can be taken directly from the device camera and seamlessly integrate information back into the organization’s GIS.

Collector for ArcGIS works anywhere you need it to. If you know that you will be operating in locations with unreliable or no Internet connectivity, you can download maps to your device and use them when disconnected. New features that you create and existing features that you modify or delete within Collector for ArcGIS are stored on the device until you synchronize those changes with their parent feature service. As well, synchronization will pull changes for a given layer to the device so your maps are always up to date.

Unlike information collected on paper surveys that must be manually transferred into your system, data collected using Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123 for ArcGIS is accurately captured on a mobile device and fed directly into your GIS. Using these data-gathering apps means information collected in the field is created, processed, analyzed and shared across your organization through ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS.

Workforce for ArcGIS, Survey123 for ArcGIS and Collector for ArcGIS are included in your ArcGIS Online subscription. Navigator for ArcGIS is a premium app available for download from iTunes and Google Play (Android in Beta).

This workflow for preparing data and creating a map enables your field crews to gather data on smartphones or tablets using Collector for ArcGIS. 

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