Field Data Collection App Saves Compliance Project

Anita Henry comment 0 Comments

Wildnote’s field data collection app just won kudos for keeping a project intact on a California military base. The agency was all set to begin structural repairs to buildings and infrastructure damaged last year in an earthquake. The project was permitted and ready to go when the need for the additional facilities brought everything to a halt. The only nearby town couldn't feed and house a large influx of workers. The agency realized they needed a secondary construction project to support the first. A full-scale cultural resource management (CRM) site assessment was required before any land could be disturbed. Tick tock, tick tock.

Efficient Field Data Collection App Beats the Clock

Chris Webster of DigTech specializes in using digital technologies for archaeological consulting. Tasked with the field work by the primary contractor, Chris quickly put together a 4-person crew to survey the 1200-acre site. He also put Wildnote technology to work to speed up documenting the finds, creating site records and producing photo sheets. Behind schedule from the start, the pressure was on to get this additional work done. And because it was an added expense, the pressure to keep costs down was immense.  Chris knew Wildnote could beat the clock and meet the budget.


Wildnote really made the project possible. It was such a tight budget and using Wildnote makes it so easy. We cut way down on the time spent producing the complex California DPR Site Records.



Checkboxes confirm surveys are synced from the field to office


Mobile App Keeps Data Organized

To make the pedestrian survey, Chris’s crew members each walked about 10 miles per day for 8 days. They made a first pass and entered lat/long coordinates in the field data collection app for each site. Each person had a mobile device. As soon as the data was synced, they could view it on the web app and easily see exactly what was out there. Once they knew how many sites they had to document, they divvied up the work. The saved coordinates made it easy to find and return to each site.

The team recorded 14 historic archaeological sites, including roughly 25 different roads found on historic topographic maps. They also recorded 74 isolated finds and submitted 117 photographs. Wildnote automates photo management, which saves huge amounts of time and frustration. Photos stay attached to each survey. Meta data and captions stay attached to each photo. They print out in the exact required photo sheet specifications. According to Chris, capturing so much data quickly was key.


When the State began issuing “shelter in place” orders, we had to really kick it into high gear to get the field work done.



Primary record, Wildnote mobile app survey

Custom Surveys and Forms Eliminate Bottlenecks

Once the field work is done, a progress report is issued. For this project, that report had an exceedingly short 3-day turnaround. Chris talked about using Wildnote to help the contractor meet the critical deadline.

I used the Field Notes form that I designed, and another survey form, to track our progress. There was a lot of data! It's impossible to transmit and organize data quickly when it's buried in a stack of papers. Unwieldy digital formats are just as bad. We couldn't have just emailed or used Dropbox and got it done. With Wildnote, the project manager can just log in and instantly access everything she needs right there. She got the report out within the three days instead of the usual 2-3 weeks.

Accessible Data for GIS Mapping Win

With the field work complete, Chris’s team handed the data off to the primary contractor. Typically, data is collected on paper, and then transcribed and input into company software for post processing. By this time, the people slated for the next phase of work were each isolating in their own homes. Without Wildnote, they would have been isolated from the data too. Because security issues block these employees from accessing agency computers from home, the collected field data would have been trapped on company computers. Having all of the data in Wildnote was the key that allowed them to continue working remotely.

The final site record preparation includes GIS mapping additions, references, QA, and reporting. The mobile app works with the desktop web app to keep all of the data accessible across the project. Team members can work together or separately to complete tasks. Consequently, the GIS department was able to carry on independently and add all of the maps to the site records. Both project managers continued working individually to add reference data and other information. 

Photo Management Dropbox Integration

The team member tasked with photo QA lacked remote work capabilities. Working on site, she needed an approved way to get the photos onto the government server. Luckily, Wildnote has an interface for the bulk download of photos from Wildnote to Dropbox. The government agency has a secure file upload interface from Dropbox to their server. This integration allowed the photo QA to continue. Throughout this process, the photos remain connected to the data for automatic reporting output.



California Rock Art Foundation site observation

As an expert in California Basin anthropology and archaeology, and founder of the California Rock Art Foundation, Alan Garfinkel Gold, Ph.D.,RPA, has decades of experience documenting complex archeological sites. Conventional documentation is slow and tedious and creates huge volumes of paper shared between project team members. Handwritten notes are transcribed, entered into a database, downloaded, and then populated into the DPR forms. With Wildnote, the data is collected electronically and automatically populates to the DRP forms after QA, eliminating the interim steps.

Dr. Gold asserts that due to the urgency of the project and the timing of the Covid-19 pandemic, conventional manual data collection methods would have failed. 

We had to turn on a dime and there’s no other way to do that unless you use Wildnote. There are other workarounds out there, but none of them offer the comprehensive integrated solutions that Wildnote performs.

How might your team benefit from a mobile field data collection and reporting system that empowers secure remote-workflow capabilities? 

field data collection app, photo management, cultural resource management, California DPR form

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