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Paperless field data collection made easy

Workflows that typically took a day’s worth of work in the past can now be accomplished in just a few clicks. Are you looking at which workflows to make paperless this year? If not, there are huge efficiencies in store for you if you do. Let’s review some examples and resources to help you get there.

In 2020, paperless options suddenly became a must, helping to avoid the sharing of papers and pens and the need to physically exchange paperwork. But many organizations have been using paperless options since well before the pandemic. They chose to do so because they knew this could save them time, reduce data entry errors and automate outdated processes.

GIS-centric paperless options also provide great visibility to an entire organization. Take the example of a field operations solution that uses a mobile app. Field workers enter information into the app. Then, when the network connection allows, that information is uploaded, allowing everyone with the appropriate permissions, regardless of department, to see the same reliable information on web maps and apps.

This is huge: no more need for manual data entry. Quality control can be finished in a few clicks, or the information can be disseminated right away. And all without anyone having to do extra work.

There are multiple examples of use that I want to share to inspire you. I’ll be brief, but let us know if you want to learn more about any particular example.

  • Recording points of interest along, elevations of and pictures of hiking trails to attract more users.
  • Recording water sampling locations, observations and dates to control water quality overtime.
  • Tracking where service workers are and where they’ve been to improve client satisfaction.
  • Entering daily fuel consumption per piece of equipment to track fleet usage.
  • Inspecting construction of new transmission line phases in remote locations.
  • Building a pavement condition inventory to prioritize maintenance and replacement funding.
  • Taking inventory of fire hydrants and their conditions to improve maintenance planning.
  • Loading assets’ types of material, size specifications and ages into a database to assign them condition scores.

If you aren’t sure how to get started, I suggest you look at Esri’s ArcGIS Solutions.

Don’t know what Esri’s ArcGIS Solutions are? Esri has put together packages of software to get you started accomplishing your specific goals faster. Many of them are for field data collection, so I wanted to make sure you’re aware of them.

From the ArcGIS Solutions Overview page, you’ll need to click “Launch ArGIS Solutions” and log in. Then you’ll have the option to browse or search by industry and see what’s available. Chances are, at least one package will come close to fulfilling your need, and you can take inspiration from it or deploy it as-is. Once you choose a package, click on “Learn more” to open the full details. This will show you which product you’ll be deploying, the licenses required and how to use and configure it. Some Solutions packages also include a full ArcGIS StoryMaps story with extra context and examples, so make sure to open all the “Learn more” links to get all the details.

Here are some of the solutions available:

If you’re looking to deploy your own solution to match a specific workflow, we can help!

Our instructor-led course Field Data Collection and Management will walk you through the full deployment of the field apps suite by taking each app and configuring it for your field workers and workforce coordinators. This course goes from A to Z to help you understand how to prepare for data collection, assign work to field workers and provide summarized information on a dashboard that everyone can easily understand.

We can support you in your journey with those resources or put it all together for you to match your needs. Let us know what you have in mind and we’ll connect with you to help you find the best way forward.

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Carole Arseneau is a Market Research Specialist at Esri Canada. Over the years, she has advised customers from all industries on how to leverage GIS in their organizations. More recently, she’s been conducting market research to uncover details about the various jobs our customers do each day in various industries. This will help inform Esri Canada’s corporate strategy and better support our customers. Carole holds a Market Research certificate from the University of California, Davis, a GIS certificate from Florida State College in Jacksonville and a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Laval University in Québec City. Being by the water has always made her feel at home and has given her inspiration to keep a positive outlook in life.

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