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Florida Geological Survey - STATEMAP Mobile GIS Platform

STATEMAP Program Develops a New Mobile GIS Platform for Geologic Mapping

Screenshot of ArcPad window

The FGS STATEMAP program recently developed an innovative and inexpensive mobile GIS platform for geologic mapping. The system, which was primarily developed utilizing surplus and existing equipment, allows staff geologists to map from a moving vehicle more efficiently.

Prior to using this new method, staff geologists kept notes and recorded observations on a paper copy of a 1:24,000 scale quadrangle and then transcribed the data once they were back in the office. This required that the quadrangle be scanned, georeferenced in GIS, and then that the notes each be manually transcribed into the GIS project. This was a very time-consuming and inefficient process.

  Capturing data directly on a laptop in a GIS environment greatly increased accuracy by registering field points directly to a detailed digital map with standardized notations and symbology. This new system resulted in a five-fold increase in the amount of observations which were made by field geologists over the prior year’s project (using paper-based methods). In addition to the increase amount of data gathered, numerous days worth of office staff time were saved by capturing the data directly in the GIS environment and avoiding the need for labor-intensive transcription of data.

  The system was assembled primarily from existing and surplus resources and only required the purchase of minimal (<$100) additional equipment. The system, which is customized specifically for STATEMAP projects but can be adapted for other purposes, utilizes a vehicle-mounted laptop, GPS, ArcPad 10, and a special keyboard. This software and keyboard have been programmed with macro commands that allow field geologists to capture observations directly in a GIS environment. Up to 36 custom macros can be programmed into this keyboard and executed with a single keystroke, saving significant time for each observation. For example, a geologist is now able to record the presence of exposures with one click of the mouse. If they desire additional notes for the data point, it simply requires a “double-click” on the data point with a mouse and a form (shown above) opens for additional fields to be populated.

 The software also allows rapid switching between GIS coverages (aerials, property records, scanned historical quadrangles, etc) with a single keystroke. In addition to geologic data, the program captures streaming data from the GPS (tracklogs) and allows geologists to rapidly analyze records of travel for the end of the day. One use of these tracklogs is to plot the course of the vehicle as “speed over ground” which allows the geologists to assess whether or not an area needs to be covered more slowly or might need a second look.

  If you are interested in more details, a poster was presented at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Minneapolis. The text for the abstract can be accessed here.

Contact person/info: Rick Green, P.G.

Last updated: May 02, 2013

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