Electronic Collection of Vegetation Mapping Data within the Grand Canyon National Park
Scott C. Curran, Mike Kearsley
Last modified: 2008-08-21
Working 8-24 days at a time in extreme remote locations within the boundary of the national park, research crews needed an electronic data collection process that would endure harsh elements as well as ensure that data was collected properly. The equipment that was used had to be capable of sustaining long battery charges, lightweight, durable and remain relatively inexpensive. The software application used to record the data needed embedded quality controls and also safe guards to protect the data from being lost. Each crew was given 2-3 handheld data recorders and one semi-ruggedized ultramobile pc. Data was recorded in Pendragon Forms 5.1 software on the handheld data recorders. At the end of each day, all handheld data recorders were synchronized to an Access database on a semi-ruggedized ultramobile pc. After synchronizing all the handhelds, the Access database was then copied to a ruggedized USB flash drive for a daily backup.The data interface on the Pendragon Forms 5.1 application was intentionally kept simple in design; so, the recording process would be more transparent to the user. During the application design phase crews tested the application on several occasions to provide feedback, but this testing also gave the crews a chance for hands-on learning. This data was collected electronically over the course of several trips this spring and summer. The crews eventually became comfortable using the electronic data collection process and no data was reported lost. There were some problems with poor contrast on the handheld data recorder screen when used in direct sunlight, but nothing that could be resolved. Overall, the process was successful for this initial recording period, but future documentation should help new users adapt more quickly to this electronic data collection process.