GIS Based Field Data Capturing
Software and Survey-Designer
SiQ is involved in numerous field surveys and data capturing exercises. Therefore custom software was developed that is used for the data capturing process. This software can easily and
quickly be adapted for specific surveys and deployed to the field.
The main features of the survey software are:
- Easily customizable and deployable
- Wizard based, user is assisted through capture sequence
- Built in quality control features
SiQ has a business unit that is involved in the surveying and collection of field data.
This data is usually spatially based and has to be collected at a certain grid-reference or a grid-reference has to be taken of the point where the survey is conducted.
For some projects it is not a requirement to have a software tool to collect the field data and a paper based format is deemed sufficient. However, experience has taught us that the use of a
software tool is imperative, and we endeavour to use this on projects whether contractually required
or not, for the following reasons:
- A great deal of quality control can be built into the software that cannot be done with a paper
based system and this saves an enormous amount of time during the data analysis phase and
ensures a high level of data quality.
- The person that visited the field is the only person that can interpret what was seen in the
field. Discrepancies are therefore dealt with in the field (as close to the origin of the data as
possible). Thus the tool needs to be available in the field to ensure data integrity.
Because most surveys are unique and the fact that the questionnaire changes with each new
survey, SiQ developed the Survey Designer tool which facilitates the compilation of a deployable
survey in a very short time and with limited software knowledge, ensuring short time-to-deployment
on new surveys and saving money by making it unnecessary to employ costly high level
Different question types can be used in the design of the survey, e.g. drop down lists, radio buttons, checklists, text-inputs and number inputs, and rules can be assigned per question or per page. If these rules are violated either a warning (the user can choose to ignore) or an error (must be fixed before being able to continue) is shown to the user.
In this way the actual data fields that are being captured in the wizard can be individually checked and rejected against pre-programmed standards and criteria, thus ensuring that the person in the field is able to rectify these problems there and then (i.e. fixing the errors at the source).
Various survey templates can be pre-designed. The output of the Survey Designer is a database that together with the Survey Wizard can be deployed to the field.
Within the Survey Wizard, the user can choose to enter data for one of the available surveys present on his system. The wizard will lead the data capturer through the question sequence thereby reducing the probability of survey errors.
A number of the projects that has been done entailed collecting field data for surveys that are extensively statistically based. It is therefore extremely important that quality data be fed into the statistical model. A decrease of approximately 70% in the time spent on quality assuring the field collected data was achieved since inter alia implementing the Survey Wizard in the field.
As part of the standard Survey Wizard functionality, a synchronization tool is included, with which the offline captured data can be synchronized to a central SQL server via an internet connection.