1. Mobile GIS and getting HUNG UP ON THE TECHNOLOGY
Ah, technology. Its easy to get lost in mobile technology. “Throw technology at the problem”, “Which hardware should we use?”, “We are stuck on the choice of platforms”. Technology is a blessing and a curse. Too often we put technology in front of the problem. What are we trying to solve with technology? That should be our first thought. Understanding the problem and charting a path to the solution. Now that is difficult. The technology is easy.
For all client mobile GIS projects we start with a process we call from WHERE to THERE. We have defined a set of steps which push the technology onto the background and are focused on defining and understanding the problem and the solution path.
2. Moving to mobile GIS is still seen as CHALLENGING
I hear it all the time: “We plan on moving to mobile GIS soon”. When I dig deeper, the move to mobile is often regularly pushed down in the priority list due to the ‘challenges’. But mobile GIS is easy.
We recently worked with a public works department. Their field staff were largely using pen and paper. Simple data collection was the requirement. A primary concern for the client was pulling the GIS pieces together: the data, web services, data syncing. Adoption among field staff was a secondary concern. Today’s platform based world of GIS makes pulling the GIS pieces together far easier than was once the case. We helped the client publish maps which were accessible to all field staff, enabled automatic syncing of edits, provided the facility to add attachments to features. The mobile application itself not only contained the tools required for field staff to get their jobs done. It was also intuitive to use. That was huge. Resistance to adopting mobile GIS melted away as soon as staff started using the app.
3. Mobile Web GIS is TOO OFTEN OVERLOOKED
Have you heard the term responsive web design? Maybe not. But it means building a mobile application which is smart enough to style itself based on the device (smartphone, tablet) being used. Brilliant. Add to that the fact that mobile web apps run on any platform: iOS, Android, Windows, and you have a super FLEXIBLE mobile solution.
And yet mobile web GIS is too often seen as a poor substitute for so called native apps (these are those you download from the various app stores). WRONG. Now don’t get me wrong, we build plenty of native GIS apps. But mobile web GIS apps can also be an excellent solution for field staff. If simplicity and flexibility are key, consider mobile web GIS apps.
4. Mobile GIS apps do not need to be OFFLINE ENABLED
We sometimes say “If your mobile GIS app does not work offline .. it does not work”. The perception is if your staff are not working in remote areas they will always have good wireless connectivity. WRONG. Slow or no connectivity is common in urban and rural areas. Sitting patiently waiting for a map to load is all too common. Offline enabled GIS means all map data is on the device or local. That means fast. And guess what, offline can now be built into both native and mobile web GIS apps. To us offline should be a standard feature of all mobile GIS apps. This is why we have put much of our focus on perfecting the building of offline enabled GIS apps. Whether viewing maps, editing data or offline routing; we see offline as a core requirements of all mobile GIS apps.
Have mobile GIS questions? Contact us on 801-733-0723.