Last week I shared some information about Survey123 and how we use it for data collection. Today I’m going to give you a quick overview of Collector, which is another Esri product. Just like Survey123, the app is free but you’ll need to log in with your Esri account credentials. I do not use Collector for my current work, so this will be a really brief overview.
Survey123 is essentially a mobile version of a data sheet. You create the surveys from your computer, send them to your phone, and fill them in during data collection. The spatial data is determined during the data collection phase.
Collector is different in a really important way– you can determine where you need samples to be collected and map those locations before ever leaving your office. From your desktop, you determine where you need to collect data and what information needs to be collected there. From the mobile app, you can open the map and navigate to each location and enter the data. If you come across someplace in the field that also needs to be recorded in some way, you can create new sample locations from mobile.
The data formatting benefits I described regarding Survey123 also hold for Collector. Additional workforce management benefits can also be seen with Collector, since you can get real time data collection updates, link to protocols and other help texts, and very easily make different questions required at different locations. Users can have different permissions, and you can track mobile devices (with user consent). Many Collector mobile app features also work offline, and you can link your mobile devices to professional grade GPS equipment for higher resolution spatial data.
While I don’t currently use Collector, I’d still recommend you try it. Collector is meant to collect spatial data, so the mapping features are very easy to use. The data formatting features are well-made, and it’s easy to export data for further analysis in ArcMap or other desktop programs. Overall, it’s a well made tool that integrates well with other mapping and GPS tools.