Althaus and Meade

Summary

Althouse and Meade needed to integrate a more robust data collection solution into day-to-day workflows that could completely replace the conventional pen and paper data collection methods. With this, the consulting firm required their solution to be collaborative, user-friendly, and operational in remote offline areas for large scale GIS data collection contracts.
  • User friendly replacement to pen and paper method of data collection.
  • Quick and simple setup.
  • Large scale data collection in an offline environment.
  • Operational for non-GIS oriented field workers.

Table of Contents

  1. Background

  2. The Problem

  3. Alternatives

  4. The Solution

  5. The Results

1. Background

Althouse and Meade Incorporated is a privately-owned consultation firm that provides environmental services based out of Paso Robles California. Their services include, but are not limited to, biological surveys, wetland delineations, rare species surveys, environmental investigations, and habitat restoration. Founded in the year 1999, Althouse and Meade (A&M) has steadily increased in size and has successfully completed more than twelve hundred client projects since their foundation. A&M is a team of highly qualified staff committed to producing science-based objective research, impact assessments and solution based analyses using GIS.

2. The Problem

Initially, A&M was using Trimble GeoXT units to collect GPS coordinate data which was then matched with a data sheet to record associated attributes. As biological consultants, A&M are required to map and spatially attribute different areas of interest, such as biologically sensitive areas, animal dens, nests, plant species and habitat areas. The company’s original data collection workflow consisted of using a Trimble to take GPS locations or a handheld Garmin to get latitude and longitude coordinates of a location, write down the latitude and longitude coordinates, and then record on paper the attribute data that was associated with the coordinates. Temporal information was also written down over days, weeks, or years.
Once back in the office, the data was then manually entered into the company’s database. This workflow was completing the required task; however, this method of data collection was very slow and not suitable for larger scale data collection. As the amount of spatially attributed data that needed to be collected continued to grow, A&M needed to find a solution to meet the growing demand.
The main issue that sparked the need to search for a new data collection solution, was that the company was now receiving contracts that required higher amounts of spatial data to be assembled. Specifically, in 2015, A&M was tasked with mapping a high number of different rare plant species. With the shear amount of plant data that needed to be collected, the traditional Trimble unit and datasheet method was no longer a viable solution for this project. A new data collection method that offered speed, efficiency, organization, spatially attributed data, and multi – user data collection was an asset for completing the contract in a timely, cost effective manner.
“There were a lot of rare plants out there. So it was going to be very time consuming to go and take a trimble point at every rare plant. We wanted everyone on our team to collect data at the same time and and we needed those data to flow into a shared database. We didn’t want to buy that many Trimbles. These were our challenges.” 

                                                                                              Jaqueline Tilligkeit
                                                                                              GIS Program Manager

3. Alternatives

When A&M first began searching for a new solution online, the main data collector that continued to pop up in search engines was ArcGIS online and the suite of applications. With this, prior to AmigoCloud, A&M was using ArcPad on a Trimble as an alternative to the traditional GPS unit and datasheet method. However, the company ran into two main issues with ArcPad: cost and user friendliness. Synchronizing ArcPad with ArcGIS for Server is a key asset for fully optimizing ArcPad, but the price tag for ArcGIS for Server was simply too high for a small consulting company. For the job that needed to be completed, the benefits did not outweigh the costs. Secondly, user friendliness was a key problem with ArcPad. The setup of ArcPad was not straightforward and the amount of training costs that were spent on training workers with the software continued to add up as time went on with ArcPad.

“It was basically the user friendliness. We needed trainings, re-trainings and more retrainings just to figure out ArcPad for anyone other than a GIS savy person to be able to use. So the user friendliness was very attractive about AmigoCloud.”

Jacqueline Tilligkeit
GIS Program Manager

4. The Solution

As ArcPad became continuously more of a problem than a solution to A&M’s needs, A&M continued their search for a data collection software that could meet their unique demands. After one trial version with AmigoCloud, A&M discover that amigoCollect solution was the perfect fit to completely replace the conventional methods of the Trimble and a paper datasheet.
With amigoCollect, data installation, training, and organization of the data that was being collected was straight forward and user friendly. Collecting spatial features along with the associated attribute data was now no longer an issue, or headache. A&M could now record a spatial feature, the latitude longitude coordinates as attributes, collect all other biological data attributes, build stand-alone forms, and upload it into the company’s own database; all with a few simple clicks.

“It was a fairly smooth setup.
Definitely a lot easier than
setting up a new Trimble.”

5. The Results

Althouse and Meade now currently has 4 persons within the office and roughly 30 workers in the field optimizing amigoCollect for data collection and data management in a wide array of environmental contracts. All data is collected in an offline environment using standard Samsung Galaxy tablets on Android with Bluetooth GPS receivers. For background base layers, A&M uses satellite imagery alongside vector layers consisting of parcel data, hydrology datasets, soil maps, and any other spatial data that would be needed in the field environment for completing the job.
The setup of amigoCollect and integration of the software into day-to- day workflows was straightforward with very few frustrations with how to install amigoCollect into the workplace. With a much more robust data collection solution, A&M is now collecting GIS-ready data in a timely, organized manner, has a collaborative platform, and, most importantly, has saved money along with the ability to produce more deliverable products to clients.
Althouse and Meade is a consulting company that has been steeped in hard work and dedication. From the ground up, A&M continues to grow to become a leader at the forefront of their industry, with the optimization of the mobile mapping revolution. AmigoCollect, the solution provided by AmigoCloud, was the right tool needed not to keep the company on the steady incline of success that the company was on before amigoCollect was introduced, but to streamline the workflow, increase productivity by reducing costs and time managing data, and achieve large scale data collection contracts.
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