If you have ever had to plan your GPS data collection around the best time of day for collecting then have returned back to the office with a sore back because of a heavy battery backpack, then most likely you are seasoned enough to be skeptical of a young rep like myself showing off a slick new Bluetooth GNSS receiver. That is not even to mention the new cloud solution I am going to recommend going with it.
The reality is the world of GIS and field data collection is changing and changing quickly. If you are not yet familiar with terms like BYOD and SaaS, now is the time to get to know them. The process of collecting field data for a GIS professional is evolving from that of rigid handhelds with complicated check-in/check-out processes, to cloud computing on the smart phone similar to what is likely in your pocket right now. That is unless you are the one person mentioned above who also refuses to give up their flip phone.
Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, is the idea that you can pair a high accuracy, Bluetooth GNSS receiver with a generic mobile device to accomplish field data collection in an easier and more efficient manner. GPS hardware manufacturers and the GIS industry have been migrating to BYOD model for the last few years. The benefits of BYOD are numerous. For one, a BYOD receiver can be an operating system (Android, iOS, Windows) agnostic. With the incredible rate that mobile operating systems are changing, it is nice to know your BYOD GNSS receiver will remain compatible. Traditional all-in-one handheld devices are tied to a single operating system so any changes, updates, or discontinuations of that operating system can have repercussions on your device. That is not to say the traditional handhelds don’t have their place. Manufacturers will without a doubt continue to develop these devices, but the overall trend is toward BYOD.
With the onset of BYOD receivers comes SaaS (software as a service) mobile application collection solutions. Most, if not all of these are cloud based. The benefits of cloud-based collection applications are its easy access to and transfer of data. No longer do you have to connect your GPS unit to your computer and hunt for a file. Because your data is being stored in the cloud, field crews can collect data while the GIS team back in the office can receive that data in real-time (or near real-time) with the push of a button. Theoretically, the field crews would never have to return to the office.
This cloud collection process has brought unbelievable valuable as the world changed due to Covid-19.Because of required social distancing and office closures, crews collecting data with a cloud solution were able to continue working while safely avoiding viral spread.
If you have not yet, it is time to put down the clunky, heavy, cumbersome, outdated GPS device and pick up a BYOD GNSS receiver. Your back will thank you. Also, maybe consider trading in that flip phone. In reality, BYOD and SaaS solutions are an industry change for the better. These hardware’s and software’s will improve day-to-day data collection and facilitate a stronger GIS for your organization.