Versar

Versar's Environmental Services has provided state-of-the-science and cost-effective solutions to environmental challenges of public and private clients since 1969. Versar provides federal, state, local, and commercial clients exemplary ecology and natural resources support based on the best science, dependable services, and innovative applications.

Quick Summary

Challenge:

  • GPS handhelds were complex to use and lacked modern, mobile features
  • Paper maps were cumbersome and field teams couldn't see their location relative to features
  • Inflexible data dictionaries didn't support custom forms per customer, project

Solution

  • TerraGo Edge on company-issued Samsung® tablets plus on personal Android® phones and iPhones®
  • Custom GeoPDF basemaps from ArcGIS & satellite imagery for offline field use
  • Ability to export data to relational databases and ArcMap® for spatial analysis

Results

  • Improved flexibility with $400 tablets plus BYOD devices
  • Improved productivity with real-time location and basemaps in the field
  • Enhanced field reports with customizable forms and geo-referenced photos

The Challenge

Versar helps customers monitor and assess watersheds, impacts of power plants, and coastal ecosystems as required to ensure water quality and compliance with regulatory standards. While performing assessments of streams and other areas, Versar wanted to take advantage of mobile technology to see their location in real-time and instantly and easily capture geo-referenced photos, observations and data. The existing handhelds in Versar's toolbox were complex and at times difficult to use and set up.

For field work like stream walks, field analysts couldn't use paper maps to reference their location or mark lines and boundaries accurately without a time-consuming effort. With handwritten notes and paper forms, data quality and productivity were constant challenges. Since Versar's work is essential to the customer's timely and prioritized remediation work, like a pond retrofit or stream restoration, the team evaluated mobile solutions that could accelerate field work, improve data quality, and eliminate paper maps and forms. For the field work, they wanted a modern app with custom basemaps and easily customizable, project-specific mobile forms. For analysis, they needed the ability to easily update analytical databases as well as GIS systems to support site reports and customer deliverables.

"The first big motivator for our switch to mobile was the stream assessments. We wanted to be able to see our real-time position and the stream lines displayed on a custom basemap, as we walk the area; and be able to capture data and geo-referenced photos instantly." - Brennan Smith, Environmental Scientist at Versar

The Solution

Versar evaluated mobile solutions and selected TerraGo Edge for use on inexpensive company Android tablets as well as personal iPhones and other devices. With TerraGo Edge, Versar is able to create notebooks that contain all the basemaps and forms needed for field studies. Within each notebook, Versar loads custom forms for different types of areas like streams, ponds, outfalls, storm drains, and restoration areas. The TerraGo Edge drag and drop form builder allowed the team to further customize forms for specific customer and project requirements.

The field teams carry Samsung tablets in OtterBox(r) ruggedized cases while capturing site observations, completing field forms, and taking geo-referenced photos. After field work, Versar assessments enable local governments to prioritize their restoration efforts and determine which sites need remediation or compliance corrections.

"We already had the forms and knew what data we needed to collect. The TerraGo Edge drag and drop form builders and conditionals were super easy to customize per customer and site, especially compared to the other handhelds." - Brennan Smith, Environmental Scientist at Versar

The Results

The performance advantages of TerraGo Edge in the field helps Versar teams to capture field data more quickly and to eliminate manual data entry and transcription errors. The end result is a field data collection process that improves the quality and efficiency of projects.

For project setup, the ease of setting up forms, convenient features like form cloning, and custom basemaps means less prep work that helps accelerate project starts. Once the data are gathered, the team is able to update relational database systems and still use Esri® ArcMap® to make maps for visualization and spatial analysis.

"Now we don't necessarily need complex GPS systems and we can do field work better with a $400 tablet. Our users really like the improved ease of use and features like capturing geo-referenced photos and custom basemaps. With the custom basemaps, we can build the right maps, with color coding and symbols and use them in the field without a network connection." - Brennan Smith, Environmental Scientist at Versar

Versar's Environmental Services has provided state-of-the-science and cost-effective solutions to environmental challenges of public and private clients since 1969. Versar provides federal, state, local, and commercial clients exemplary ecology and natural resources support based on the best science, dependable services, and innovative applications.

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