discussion / Remote Sensing & GIS  / 8 March 2018

Is anyone using off-the-shelf GIS data collection apps? e.g. Collector for ArcGIS

The BTO has made some use of phone/tablet apps like AlpineQuest. Esri has showed us Collector for ArcGIS and we're trying it out.

Is anyone else using Collector, or similar apps?

If so, do you have any recommendations or views about pros/cons of different apps?

Steve Pritchard
British Trust for Ornithology


Hi - I've used a few for research and consultancy work.  I think one of the main things you need to determine is whether you need to collect only point-based data, or whether you also need line and polygon info.

For the latter, my personal preference for most of my own work is still to do mapping onto paper, and then digitise this in the office (using an earial photo baseplan).

However, for colecting point-based data, e.g. Phase 1 target notes, bat detector locations, bird registrations, etc., then mobile apps on phone or tablet are brilliant.  Having used quite a few different apps, my favourite is Fulcrum (http://www.fulcrumapp.com).  This is a paid-for subscription service, but the interface, form-building functions, export options are great.  Highly recommended.  

I'm more than happy to provide more info on what and how we use Fulcrum if of any use to you.


So Collector is really for editing data, or adding GIS info in the field in a map interface. Works offline. It's ok for that purpose, you can take your entire map, basemap offline to the field, you can see what data has been collected in real-time, but can be buggy and if you accidentelly log out you're completely out of luck with no connection.

I use it to track drone flights - i.e. I flew here, with some notes.

Survey123 is ESRI's solution for ODK or form based surveys. I like it a lot, it's flexible, you don't need people to log in and it just looks better than ODK and works on iOS, and doesn't require the annoying server set-up of ODK and has great offline capability. But it's form-based, you don't really see the data you are editing in a map. But the best part are the analysis features where you can see stats on responses and such.

Let me know if you have more questions, we have used survey123 extensively, also in places where people have limited cell network, and limited knowledge of smartphones.

Hi Steve, 

Over on Twitter, @RLong has a suggestion that might be useful? 

Dave Moskowitz https://t.co/ZJhAPTgzyx has developed some @ESRI Collector workflows for his work with @ConservationNW. You might get in touch with one of them for advice.

— Robert Long (@RLongEco) March 28, 2018

James Bevan also has some feedback: 

I’ve used iGIS quite a bit to map points, lines and polygons. Created shapefiles can be emailed or stored in Dropbox and transferred to ArcGIS. The paid version also can calculate area and distance. Cons: somewhat fiddly to use.

— James Bevan (@JamesRBevan) April 9, 2018