Sunday, 2 April 2017

Using the GPS Logger Android APP for Field Surveys

Professor Chinmaya S Rathore

One of the fundamental requirements in geospatial analysis is the availability of georeferenced data. To collect georeferenced data from field surveys you normally require a GPS receiver, which is either expensive or usually not available in required numbers. With GPS enabled smartphones becoming ubiquitous, an alternative solution is to have an app on the smartphone that can function like a GPS receiver. If this arrangement is accurate enough for the desired work, students, researchers, government organizations, natural resource and rural development managers, field health personnel and a host of other people can use it for collecting georeferenced field data at practically no cost. In such a scenario, managers in resource-starved government organizations or NGOs could train their staff to routinely gather georeferenced data in the field and thus incorporate geospatial intelligence in their decision-making. For example, field personnel can be trained to collect coordinates of nesting sites, man-animal conflict locations, plantation boundaries, pollution point sources, undocumented roads and trails, health facilities and schools in rural areas, locations of diseases outbreaks and so on. This data can then be shared using email or uploaded to build and update geo-databases.   

While there are many apps that provide this capability, they usually come with one or more of the following limitations:

  • They are not free
  • Many free apps might have restrictions on the number of waypoints that can be recorded or exported.
  • They might not be sufficiently consistent in positional accuracy
  • They do not permit export at all till you upgrade to a paid version
  • Exported file formats are not directly usable in Google Earth or GIS environment.
  • They demand too many permissions creating privacy concerns
  • They show advertisements and annoying tickers for in-app purchases.

In this tech demonstrator comprising of a document and a video tutorial, we evaluate and provide a tutorial for a free android application called GPS Logger developed by Basic Air Data. We zeroed in on this application after some research and found that not only it is free, it does not impose any of the above-mentioned limitations.

View or Download the full Tech Demonstrator Document. View our video tutorial on how to use the GPS Logger App. 

We found that this android app performs really well when compared to a recreation grade GPS receiver. Students, researchers, government organizations, NGOs and others can use this app to collect and share georeferenced data for free.

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