There are often situations in research, business, or government work where you may need to physically collect geospatial data away from your computer. To facilitate the collection of field data, ESRI provides a mobile data collection cellphone app called ArcGIS Collector, which uses your cellphone's GPS location service so that information or photographs that you collect with the app will be associated with specific locations. ArcGIS Collector is integrated with ArcGIS Online, so that your field data can then be mapped or analyzed once you get back to your computer.
Some examples of ways that ArcGIS Collector has been used in research include:
- Conducting urban tree censuses
- Recording archaeological excavation information
- Recording building damage information after earthquakes
- Tracking violations of campus tobacco use restrictions
- Creating vacant property inventories
This tutorial will cover setting up a simple web map on ArcGIS Online, and then using the ArcGIS Collector app to add field data to that map using a smartphone.
- Create the feature service
- Set up the collection web map
- Collect data with ArcGIS Collector
- Sharing and disabling editing
- Re-enabling editing
- Creating a new ArcGIS Online map using the feature service
- Using collected data in ArcGIS Pro
- Downloading data
Create the Feature Service
The first step in using ArcGIS Collector is defining a feature service that will be used to store the collected data. This can be an existing feature service, or one created for a specific collection task. This section describes how to set up a new feature service in ArcGIS Online.
For this example, I will be collecting photographs of surviving the 19th century buildings on the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois. The point feature service will have two attributes: Building Name and Year Constructed.
- From your ArcGIS Online home page go to the Content page.
- Select Create and Feature Layer.
- On the Create a feature layer page, select Build a layer and Points.
- Zoom in on the map to define the extent of the area within which you are planning to collect data.
- Give the layer a meaningful title.
- On the Data page, view the Fields.
- Add fields that you want to collect.
The Field Name should be short with only letters,
numbers, and underscores, but the Display Name can
be more meaningful. The String type should
be used for text, Integer for whole numbers,
Double for numbers with decimal points, and
Date for dates. In this case we add:
- Building Name (String)
- Year Built (Integer)
- Check the Settings to make sure
the layer is editable by verifying these settings:
- Enable editing
- Keep track of who created and last updated features
- Enable Sync
- What kind of editing is allowed? (Add, Delete, Update - Attributes and Geometry) What features can editors see? (Editors can see all features)
- What features can editors edit? (Editors can edit all features)
- * Export Data: Allow others to export to different formats
- Click Share
- If you will be working entirely alone, just leave the default sharing with only the Owner.
- If you will be collaborating with a group of editors from your organization, share with your Organization.
- If you will be working with editors outside your organization, share with with Everyone. This will also require setting Public Data Collection in Settings.
Collection Web Map
ArcGIS Collector needs a web map that defines the feature service for storing data, and permits display of collected data.
- Create a new map.
- Add and Search for layers in My Content. The feature service created above should be available to add to the map.
- Zoom in to the area where you will be collecting data.
- Click on the ellipsis (...) by the layer and Configure Pop-up.
- Give the popup a meaningful title.
- Click configure attributes and set the attributes you want to edit and display.
- Save the Map with a meaningful name.
- Click Share to get a link. Choose the same level of sharing that you selected when you created your feature layer above.
Collect Data With ArcGIS Collector
You can download collector for Android phones from Google Play or for iPhones from the iTunes websites. It is free because ESRI makes their money off the services needed to use the app.
- Download the app.
- Login to ArcGIS Online.
- Shared maps that are available for editing should be visible. If you don't see your map, make sure the map you created in ArcGIS Online is shared with you and/or your organization.
- If prompted, turn on your location services so the app knows where you are.
- The map should move to your location.
- Click the plus sign (+) to add a point.
- Click ADD POINT to mark the point on the map at your current GPS latitude and longitude.
- Enter the data in the appropriate boxes.
- Click TAKE PHOTO if you want to attach a photo.
- Click the check mark at the top right corner when you are ready to add the point to the feature service.
- Repeat for all locations where you collect data.
- When you get back to the ArcGIS Online website, you should see the points and attributes, which you can then edit, analyze or export just as you would any other point data.
Use the Collected Data
Sharing and Disabling Editing
When you are finished with collection, you should make the feature service read-only so your data cannot be accidentally or intentionally damaged by you or others.
- Find your feature service on your Content page, go into the Settings for the feature service and unclick Editing.
- On the Overview page, click Share and set the sharing to Everyone unless you need a more restrictive level.
- Open your collection web map and Share with Everyone to get a shared link.
If you want to add more points in the future or edit existing points, reverse these steps.
If you have disabled editing on the feature layer, the map will no longer appear in ArcGIS Collector. If you need to be able add or edit points in collector:
- Find the feature layer on your Content screen, go into Share and change the sharing to the appropriate level. If you are working alone, Owner is the best choice.
- In the Settings screen, Enable editing and Save that new setting.
- Go back to your Content screen, find the collection map, and Open in Map Viewer.
- Change the Sharing to the appropriate level. If you are working alone, Owner is the best choice.
- Save the map. This is critical to update the copy of the map on ArcGIS Online so that ArcGIS Collector knows that it is editable again.
- Restart your ArcGIS Collector app on your phone to reload the list of editable maps.
- After you are done working with your map in ArcGIS Collector, follow the instructions above to disable editing and restore sharing.
Creating a New ArcGIS Online Map Using the Feature Service
If you want to make the data available in another map, the feature layer can also be reused that you wish to make available to your audience.
Using Collected Data in ArcGIS Pro
Because the data is stored in a feature service, that data can also be used in ArcGIS Pro for print mapping.
Data from the feature service can be downloaded from the web map created for data collection for use in a non-ESRI software.