Incorporating Geoscience, Field Data Collection Workflows into Software Developed for Mobile Devices

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Daniel A Vieira, Matty Mookerjee and Swathi Matsa, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA, United States
Modern geological sciences depend heavily on investigating the natural world in situ, i.e., within “the field,” as well as managing data collections in the light of evolving advances in technology and cyberinfrastructure. To accelerate the rate of scientific discovery, we need to expedite data collection and management in such a way so as to not interfere with the typical geoscience, field workflow. To this end, we suggest replacing traditional analog methods of data collection, such as the standard field notebook and compass, with primary digital data collection applications. While some field data collecting apps exist for both the iOS and android operating systems, they do not communicate with each other in an organized data collection effort. We propose the development of a mobile app that coordinates the collection of GPS, photographic, and orientation data, along with field observations. Additionally, this application should be able to pair with other devices in order to incorporate other sensor data. In this way, the app can generate a single file that includes all field data elements and can be synced to the appropriate database with ease and efficiency.

We present here a prototype application that attempts to illustrate how digital collection can be integrated into a “typical” geoscience, field workflow. The purpose of our app is to get field scientists to think about specific requirements for the development of a unified field data collection application. One fundamental step in the development of such an app is the community-based, decision-making process of adopting certain data/metadata standards and conventions. In August of 2014, on a four-day field trip to Yosemite National Park and Owens Valley, we engaged a group of field-based geologists and computer/cognitive scientists to start building a community consensus on these cyberinfrastructure-related issues. Discussing the unique problems of field data recording, conventions, storage, representation, standardization, documentation, and management, while in the field, creates a unique opportunity to address critical issues with regards to advancing the development of cyberinfrastructure for the field-based geosciences while facilitating the combining of our datasets with those of other geoscience subdisciplines.