How to map an area using iCMTGIS PRO without using a Feature List

A Feature List can help you do certain jobs more efficiently, but it is not required for mapping a Feature. Following is a general procedure for mapping an Area Feature.

You will need to have either a built-in GPS receiver or an external GPS receiver connected to your iPad or iPhone device. Dual XGPS-150A, Bad Elf GPS 220 and Garmin GLO claim about 2 – 5 meters accuracy. EOS Arrow Gold and SXBlue Platinum can achieve sub-meter or higher accuracy.

To map your Area Feature, first create an Area Topic after tapping on the Topic Menu and selecting New Topic.

Then, tap on the GPS icon at the top, select Turn GPS On.

If GPS is available, you should hear beeps and see a GPS marker (a little red triangle) moving on the screen. This means the app will be able to get the GPS positions. You can wait a few minutes for the GPS to stabilize after it has been turned on.

Now tap the GPS icon and select Collect. Select the Area Topic into which to record your Area Feature. Confirm the default setting of Dynamic Area with 1 second interval between the recorded nodes.

In the next screen tap the Store button then start walking along the boundary of the area. When you get back to the starting point, tap the Stop button. You should see the area plotted on the screen.

If you wish to store certain things like light poles or wells along the path, then tap the Nested button. This will halt the Area Feature and let you log a Point Feature. Enter a name for your point. (If you have created the Point Topics beforehand, then you can select it from the drop-down list.) Confirm the Static option. Time Session is how long you want to stand at that point to collect data. The app will average the GPS fixes collected during that time to compute the position. Generally, more GPS fixes yields a more accurate result. When done recording the point, the app will prompt you to continue with the Area Feature or record another point.

If you are using a high-precision GPS or GNSS, such as EOS Arrow Gold or SXBlue Platinum, you could select “Enable External GPS” in the GPS Setup screen. This will tell the app to display the GPS status and position quality information at the top of the screen.

Can I use iCMTGIS PRO on my iPad to stakeout to survey points and also develop custom data collection forms?

1. Stakeout to survey points

The GPS – Point Stakeout function in iCMTGIS PRO can take you to the survey points. How close you can get to the survey points depends on the GPS receiver. The built-in GPS of an iPad device has an accuracy of about 10 meters (sometimes better, sometimes worse). If there are markers on your survey points, then you could identify the marked points after you get to its vicinity. Otherwise, you will need a high-precision GPS receiver, such as the EOS Arrow or iSXBlue II GNSS to take you closer to the point position. To pin-point a previously surveyed point, you will need to connect the EOS Arrow 200 or iSXBlue II GNSS to a RTK network in your area.

2. Custom data collection forms

The GPS – Collect function will let you record Attribute values during data collection. You can use the GPS – Feature List function to set up the Features/Attributes/Values for your project. Similar projects can share the same Feature List.

GPS Feature Data Collection

GPS Feature Data Collection

You can set up custom value lists to facilitate data collection. During GPS data collection you can have the app display the Attribute fields. You can enter data manually or select the desired data from the pre-defined list. The collected data can later be presented in Sheet View and edited.

If you are not after entering data while recording GPS positions, but are interested in designing your own report forms for entering data for a certain site, then please consider our Wetland & Stakeout app.

Will I need to buy any other software in order to use the field data on my PC?

CMTGIS II and iGPSGIS II are apps for data collection. You can use them to record Attribute data for GPS Features or to digitized Points, Lines and Areas. You can import and export Shapefiles.  They display the built-in Apple Map as background map. You can view the recorded position and attribute data on the CMTGIS II and iGPSGIS II. You can also measure distances and areas.

The collected data will usually go into a back-end program on your desk-top computer for further processing, analysis, and printing a map. Some users export the data in Shapefile format to be used with an ESRI mapping program. Some users purchase the PC-GIS 09 software program for the same purpose and at a much lower price.

PC-GIS 09 is a mapping program that can work with field data collected using a Windows Mobile PDA, an iPad, an iPhone, or a CMT GPS data collector running a CMT GPS/GIS data collection software program. It can accept Shapefiles output by other software programs. It can also let you capture a geo-referenced Google Earth image to use as the background map. It provides other functions such as digitizing and the ability to join Points into Lines or Areas, or disconnect Lines and Areas into Points. It can also be used to set up user-defined coordinate systems, or to prepare background images for off-line use with iCMTGIS-II or iGPSGIS II. In addition, PC-GIS PRO will let you print a map that includes acreage, Feature Attributes and a Feature classification key.

We provide a complimentary one-year CMT GIS Training software license with your purchase of the PC-GIS 09 software license. This is a voice-based training program that shows you the process of collecting field data as well as completing and printing a map of your project.

GIS and You

Map showing attribute table for the Samples topic layer

Advances in mobile GPS devices have now made it possible to easily record GPS locations along with the associated feature information to be fed to a Geographic Information System (GIS). So you’ve gained a general understanding of GPS and know how to use your mobile device to acquire and record GPS data. You’ve also learned how to add descriptive or numeric attributes to the GPS Features. And you’re probably exporting the field data to a mapping software to analyze the data and to produce reports and an informative map for your project. But what actually is your project about? And where else can you apply your GIS skills?

A very popular area of GPS/GIS application is forest land management. GIS-grade GPS data collectors have made it easy to navigate around a timber stand and record the Area Feature and record the timber stumpage along with any remarks and descriptions. A modern mobile device with a color display will let you see exactly where you are located on the background topographic map or aerial photo. For large management projects, you can bring in data collected using a number of data collectors and combine them in the same job file in the desk-top mapping software.

Farmers and fruit growers are using software to layout the plots and plan their crops before the actual planting.  They also keep the fertilization and harvest information in a database for  optimization analysis. Wildlife specialist use GPS/GIS to track animals and invasive plants in the wilderness. Governments employ GIS in epidemiology and in studying insect infestations in forests. They also conduct air-borne surveys to collect GPS/GIS data for military reconnaissance and natural resource management.

More and more cities, airports, schools as well as oil and gas companies are utilizing GPS/GIS to help inventory and manage their assets. They now have at their tips all the information that previously required tedious manual entries and were prone to recording and transcription errors.

GIS is not just for the military and civilian professionals. When you engage in geo-caching or orienteering, you are making use of GIS.  When you look up a travel destination on Google Maps, you are making use of GIS. In fact GIS could be used to advantage in almost every aspect of life that you can think of. The blog post at this link shows an interesting video about how, armed with GIS data, one could even choose where to live for the sake of one’s health (I must add, if one could afford to do so).

GIS has elevated our awareness of where we are with respect to  our immediate environment to the realization that our location represents but one coordinate point on the map of the world, and yet the sample that our particular data represents contributes to and impacts the entire population data set.

How are you using GIS on your job or in your leisure time? Please share your interesting application stories with your fellow earthlings.

iCMTGIS Version 1.2.6 Released on April 5, 2011

We are pleased to hear from many iCMTGIS users that they find the application most useful and powerful. We are thankful to the users who have reported program bugs that they encountered. All known bugs have been fixed in  iCMTGIS Version 1.2.6, and the weather is getting better, so you can expect to be much more productive in the coming months.

If you would like to share your experience of using iCMTGIS in your field of work, or if you have a question about the iCMTGIS software or GPS/GIS data collection in general, please feel free to post your comment on this blog site.