Having fun with Collector for ArcGIS at the Toronto User Conference

November 6, 2013 Paul Heersink

Learn how we used the Collector for ArcGIS app to make an interactive map on which users could enter their favourite places in Canada.

At our Toronto User Conference (UC) on October 16, we had some fun with our mobile technology. We used Collector for ArcGIS on iPhones at our Social Media booth and asked attendees to tell us about a place in Canada that inspires them. They picked from places related to summer and winter activities, cities and parks on an interactive ArcGIS Online Web map in Collector. It was a lot of fun for the participants (and for us) as we collected 83 inspiring places during the conference.

Using the Collector for ArcGIS app on the iPhone

As expected at a conference with over 700 geo-enthusiasts, many of you asked how we set up this data collection map. It wasn’t difficult at all; in a nutshell, here’s what we did.

Like any data collection application, we first needed to determine what we wanted to collect. We figured we wanted to know the location on the map, the place name, the person’s name, their Twitter handle (if they had one) and whether or not this was their first UC. Once this was established, we used ArcMap to create an empty point feature class in a geodatabase and set up fields to allow this information to be collected. We leveraged feature templates and geodatabase domains since these would make it easier for participants to enter the information in Collector.


Setting up the point feature class

The next step was to publish the feature class to the Web using our ArcGIS Online subscription so it would be accessible on iPhones. In ArcMap, we saved the feature class in an MXD and then signed into ArcGIS Online. Once signed in, we used the Share As tool to create a hosted feature service.

As the service was being created, we loaded up a Web browser and signed into ArcGIS Online. In the time it took us to sign in, the service had already finished publishing. We still needed to set a few properties for the service to be ready for data collection though. For attendees to add a point to the map, we enabled the editing properties of the service to allow users to add new features.  We also thought it would be a nice touch to capture a photo of the attendee in front of a map pointing to the place that inspires them so we also enabled attachments on the service to store the photo.  

Enabling editing to allow users to add new features

Now that the service was ready to go, it was time to store it in a Web map so Collector could access it. We added the feature service to a Web map and set some appropriate symbology for the types of places the attendees could pick from. We then saved the Web map and shared it with a group that would be accessible to our ArcGIS Online subscription through Collector.

At this point, it was time to give the data collection a test drive on the iPhone. We signed into Collector on an iPhone, opened the map and proceeded to collect a place that inspires each of us who worked at the Social Media booth. We didn’t forget to take the picture either.  

Colleen pointing out her favourite place in Canada

It worked great! We were ready to learn about the places that inspire the attendees at the Toronto UC and show off the Collector too.

If you’d like to see some of the participants pointing to the places that inspire them, check out our album on Facebook.You can also interact with the ArcGIS Online Web map to find all the locations (works in all browsers, but best in Google Chrome).

Open the map in a new window.

(With contributions from Mike Gregotski, Esri Canada's Technical Marketing Lead)

About the Author

Paul Heersink

Paul Heersink is a cartographer and Production Manager of Esri Canada’s Community Maps Program: an initiative that is aiming to build a seamless topographic basemap using contributor data. He has over 15 years of cartographic experience, working in both the public and private sectors. Paul has always been interested in mapping and drew his own atlas at the age of 10. He took a detour in his career through the fields of psychology and social work before returning to cartography.

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