Difficulty in sharing field data with all your team

Issue raised:

When collecting data in the field, it can be complex to share the data with everyone in an organization, especially if it is stored locally.

Such a situation implies:

  • Be present at the office to access the data
  • Wait until the field data has been transcribed before you can view it.

If the data management process is not automated, data will be difficult to access.

How does the Coral Collect data collector solve this problem?

Coral Collect saves all data collected from the app in the cloud and shares it with all users in your organization.

Thus, users can access the data on a dashboard or on their device.

Permissions can be set to control access to data.

This allows:

  • Access field data from anywhere.
  • View the data captured in the field without delay on the dashboard
  • Share data with all stakeholders in real time

The Coral Collect solution promotes collaboration between all stakeholders during a data collection operation in the field. In addition to automating the flow of data in your organization, it guarantees accessibility to this data to all stakeholders. The result is increased productivity and better decision making.

How to do it, step by step?

On mobile:

1: Open the application

2: Select a project

3: Tap on ‘sync change’

4: View all updated data on the application map

On computer:

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: View all updated data on the map online

This issue is solved, you know how to share the data collected with all your team!

Planning of field operations and team management

During field data collection operations, several problems will arise if the planning of operations and team management have been neglected. Among these, we can note:

  • Perform the same inspection twice by mistake
  • Difficulty defining the teams’ itinerary
  • Difficulty updating data directly in the field
  • Retrieve all data collected previously

The bigger the team, the more these problems will appear.

How does the Coral Collect data collector resolve these issues?

First, Coral Collect archives all the data that has been collected in the cloud and allows all users to access it in the field or in the office in real time.

So:

  • Field teams can view data that has already been collected and not perform the same survey by mistake
  • When the teams return to the field to observe the evolution of an inspected data, they will be able to access previous data and directly update it.
  • Managers will be able to better plan day-to-day data collection operations, as they will have access to a map showing all the surveys carried out. They will be able to more effectively define the itinerary of their teams.
  • Since all data is available digitally on devices, there is no longer a need to:
    • Search the forms and photos already collected
    • Bring these data to the field in paper format.

How to do it step by step on mobile device and computer?

On mobile:

1: Open the application

2: Select a project

3: Tap on ‘sync change’

4: View your data on the application map

On computer:

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: View your updated data on the online map

Your problem is solved. You have now a better idea on how to do planning of field operations and team management for data collection.

Collect, visualize and process georeferenced data.

If you need to collect and process georeferenced data (and usually it will be) and you are looking for a simple solution to do it, this article is perfect for you.

Encountered problem:

One problem encountered when collecting data in the field is the difficulty of georeferencing the data. To do this, you can indicate the civic address nearby, but this location is not precise. Otherwise, you can use a GPS that will capture the coordinates of your current location, which is inconvenient as it adds additional equipment to handle.

Subsequently, this location must be associated manually with the data. These repetitive manipulations complicate the process, especially for beginners.

How does Coral Collect solve this problem?

The Coral Collect mobile app allows you to collect your data directly from your phone or tablet.

When you collect data, geographic coordinates are automatically associated with your form at your current location.

If you want to define the geographic position of your form yourself, a map is available to locate it at the desired position. The GPS coordinates will be automatically added as metadata.

You can then view the data directly on an online map and export it in a format that supports georeferenced data.

The collection of georeferenced data:

Here are the steps to set up Coral Collect to collect your data in the field:

Step 1: Create an account on Coral Collect (It’s free)

Step 2: Create a digital form

Now is the time to turn your good old paper form into a digital form.

To do this:

  • Go to the forms tab
  • Click on the + button at the top right
  • Give your form a name
  • Drag the different fields available on the right that interest you and drop them in the gray box on the left
  • Edit the fields you placed in the gray box so that they correspond to the elements of your paper form

For help with this, please refer to this tutorial:

When your form is created, please save it by clicking at the top right

Step 3: Download the Coral Collect app to your device

Step 4: Fill out your forms directly from your tablet or mobile phone

  • Open the app
  • Select the project that was automatically created for you “my first project”
  • Press the + button at the bottom right
  • Select your form
  • Fill in your data
  • Save your form

The visualization of georeferenced data:

Step 1: Synchronize your data

This action will transfer the data you have collected from the app to the cloud and allow everyone in your organization to access the data on the dashboard and on the app.

Once you have collected your data with the app:

  • Make sure you have an internet connection
  • Click on the red button at the top left
  • Click on synchronization change

Step 2: Log into the dashboard

Go to api.chaac.tech

Step 3: Open your project and visualize your data

  • Go to the projects section of the dashboard
  • Click on the project whose data you want to view

An online map with your data, showing colored markers, will appear.

Click on the markers to see detailed information on the forms.

You can customize the colors of the markers according to the data you have entered in your forms.

The processing of georeferenced data:

It is possible to process georeferenced data outside the Coral Platform.

To do this, you will need to use a GIS (Geographic Information System). GIS are tools that will allow you to process your georeferenced data at a more specialized level. Among the best known there is:

QGIS

QGIS is a free tool. To be able to use it, you will need to import your georeferenced data in specific formats.

These formats are:

  • Geojson
  • Shapefile

Coral Collect allows you to export your data in these two formats. To do so, please follow the following steps:

Step 1: Open your project

Step 2: Export

  • Click on the ‘download’ button at the top right of your project
  • Click on ‘data’
  • Select the name of the data layer you want to export (The name of the form you used)
  • Choose the export format you want from the list (Geojson or Shapefile)
  • Click on export

Your know now how to collect and process georeferenced data. Your problem is solved.

Convert data collected in the field into deliverables

Encountered problem

One of the most common challenges when performing surveys in the field is convert the collected data into deliverables for our colleagues or for our customers.

How does Coral Collect solve this problem?

Once you have collected your data with the Coral Collect application, they  become available in your projects on the dashboard. At this step, you can sort your data according to your criteria and benefit from it in different formats. Deliverables from field data are created automatically.

How to produce your deliverables step by step?

ATTENTION: You must collect your data with Coral Collect to be able to produce the following deliverables. To get started using Coral Collect for field data collection, please refer to the article: Setting up Coral Collect in 5 steps.

Excel:

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: Click on the ‘export‘ button at the top right

5: Click on the ‘data’ button

6: Choose in form your data layer that you want to export

7: Choose in file type ‘Excel (XLSX)’

CSV

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: Click on the ‘export‘ button at the top right

5: Click on the ‘data’ button

6: Choose in form your data layer that you want to export

7: Choose in file type ‘CSV’

Shapefile

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: Click on the ‘export‘ button at the top right

5: Click on the ‘data’ button

6: Choose in form your data layer that you want to export

7: Choose in file type Shapefile ’

Geojson

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: Click on the ‘export‘ button at the top right

5: Click on the ‘data’ button

6: Choose in form your data layer that you want to export

7: Choose in file type ‘GeoJson’

Pictures

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: Click on the ‘export‘ button at the top right

5: Click on the ‘images’ button

PDF report

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: Click in the table on the button (i)

5: Press the Export button

Custom PDF report

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: Click in the table on the button (i)

5: Press the ‘export’ button

6: Select your custom report

If you want to import your own custom PDF report:

  • Watch the explanatory video
  • Read the full guide on how to import a custom report

Batch of personalized pdf reports

1: Open the dashboard

2: Go to the project tab

3: Select one of your projects

4: Click on the “carry forward” button located between the card and the table

5: Select your custom report

6: Click Export

Now you know how to convert the collected data into deliverables, your problem is solved!

Transcription of paper form into a database

If you still transcribe your paper form manually to a database, this article will help you automate data transcription.

Encountered problem:

The problem faced by many companies that perform field surveys is that at the end of the day, after spending hours collecting data in the field, technicians have to manually transcribe all the data they took from paper forms to the database.

The result is:

  • A waste of time
  • A money loss
  • Transcription errors
  • A lost of data
  • Deadlines for retrieving data from all surveyors

How does the ‘Coral Collect‘ data collector solve this problem?

Coral Collect is a mobile application that allows you to fill out digital forms directly in the field from a tablet or cell phone.

Once the form is completed, the field staff sends the collected data automatically to the database.

I present here the 5 steps to automate data transcription to a database:

Step 1: Create an account on the Coral Collect data collector (it’s free)

Create your account on Coral Collect here

Step 2: Create a digital form

Now is the time to turn your good old paper form into a digital one.

To do this:

  • Go to the forms tab
  • Click on the + button at the top right
  • Give a name to your form
  • Drag the different fields available on the right that interest you and drop them in the gray box on the left
  • Edit the fields you placed in the gray box to match the elements of your paper form.

For help with this, please watch this tutorial

When your form is created, please save it by clicking on the top right.

Step 3: Download the Coral Collect app to your device

Step 4: Fill out your forms directly from your tablet or mobile phone

You can now complete your form from your phone or tablet.

  • Open the app
  • Choose the automatically created project “my first project”
  • Press the + button at the bottom right
  • Select your form
  • Fill in your data
  • Save your form
  • Sync your data with the sync button in the top left menu.

Step 5: Download your data in the desired format

Your data is already stored in a cloud database. If you want to export it to another database, you need to follow the following instructions:

  • Log into the Coral Collect dashboard
  • Go to the project tab
  • Select the project “my first project”
  • Click on the export button at the top right
  • Click on ‘data’
  • Choose the desired format
  • Click on ‘export’.

Your data collection process is now automated and your issue is resolved!

Cloud Storage vs Local Storage in Data Collection

Cloud technology has continued to increase in popularity in recent years. This growth is driven by the fact that users can access stored documents, applications, and additional processing capacity without having to invest in their own software and hardware systems.

Most businesses have found that cloud storage is the right solution, but some organizations prefer to use local based software and databases. Some use cases, like a field data collection application, will only reach its full potential if utilized with a cloud-based solution. On the other hand, a simple word processing application may be able to function properly on local infrastructure.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both solutions, and this article will help you understand the pros and cons of each!

Understanding Cloud Storage Solutions

Cloud storage solutions refer to technology that allows to store information online rather than in a specific server and location. Typically, a third-party service provider manages the cloud storage platform, and you can access the information from anywhere.

Advantages of Cloud Storage

There are many advantages to cloud storage solutions, including the following:

  • Cost-Effectiveness
  • Improved Accessibility and Scaling
  • Enhanced Data Integrity and Recovery

Cost-Effectiveness

Cloud-based options are more cost-effective. You are generally paying based on your usage, so you will only be required to pay for what you use.

Local based solutions require physical infrastructure that costs the same to install and maintain whether you use 1% of its capacity or 100%!

Improved Accessibility and Scaling

A mobile forms app that integrates with cloud storage can allow your field inspectors to create digital forms and upload results directly to a database – which can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. The only requirement is an internet connection (unless your solution allows you to work offline, which is usually the case), and you can have a fully functional field data collection app in the palm of your hands!

The improved accessibility this provides also makes it easier to scale your operations. If your business experiences seasonal demand or unexpected increases, the service provider can increase your available storage capacity on the spot.

Enhanced Data Integrity and Recovery

Regardless of which data collection methods you use, keeping a history of changes and having the ability to recover data are essential. Field data collection software that uses cloud-based solutions lets you do just that!

All of the survey data collection that has occurred is duplicated in several places, ensuring the security and integrity of the data. You can roll back the system if an unwanted change is ever made, but those changes that are intentional will be automatically synced and updated across every device.

Disadvantages of Cloud Storage

While there are many benefits to cloud storage, not every solution is perfect. These are some of the disadvantages related to cloud solutions:

  • Reliance on a Third-Party
  • Added Security Risks

Reliance on a Third-Party

One of the few downsides to a cloud-based inspection app is that you are dependent on the company that developed the solution to access your data. In other words, you are relying on the supplier for performance.

Added Security Risks

If access to your field data depends on a cloud service provider, you are also trusting them to keep your data safe. Your organization does not have exclusive control over the security of your data, so you must trust them!

What about Local Storage Solutions?

A local storage system keeps digital data on physical devices like solid-state drives, hard disc drives, or other infrastructure. You can access the data stored on local storage solutions if you are connected to the local network or if you connect the device to your computer. 

Advantages of Local Storage

Local storage systems have some advantages like the following:

  • Fast Speeds
  • Enhanced Security

Fast Speeds

Since an external or internal hard drive does not need to upload to the cloud or download the data, you can access the information much quicker.

Enhanced Security

When you use physical devices to store field data collection forms, you have complete control over how the information is stored and who can access it. Your organization can design strict security protocols to ensure your data is kept safe.

Disadvantages of Local Storage

Here are some of the disadvantages of local storage:

  • Lack of Accessibility
  • Increased Costs
  • There is no Back-Up

Lack of Accessibility

The biggest drawback of local storage is that your data is not easily accessible. It can be complicated to share survey data with team members and clients if they’re not all connected to the local network. 

Increased Costs

A local solution can be more expensive because it requires investment for infrastructure, maintenance, and regular upgrading costs.

There is no Back-Up

If the server or hard drive that contains all of your survey data collection dies, the information dies with it! When you store information locally, you increase the risk of data loss due to fires, floods, or other issues.

Which Solution is Right for You?

Cloud storage solutions are the future. Local storage is the old way of working. However, many organizations continue to rely on it because they have misconceptions about data security and are resistant to change.

The advantages provided by cloud storage for field data collection far outweigh its disadvantages.

Looking for a cloud-based field data collector? Try Coral Collect for free!

Collecting Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data in the Field

There is no question that data and data collection tools are crucial to studying the results of your field operations. Depending on your data collection methods, you will be able to observe patterns and trends within your business industry, allowing you to make informed decisions.

It is vital for everyone working in the field operations sector to understand that it’s more important to collect the right data than all data possible. To do this, you’ve got to properly prepare your team for the process with a field data collection software, and define the objectives of the operation. Start by asking yourself these questions.

Throughout the process of creating field data collection forms for your impending operation, you’ve got to choose between questions that will generate qualitative or quantitative data.

 Understanding Quantitative Data

Quantitative data can be quantified or answered in one word or number, such as when, how much, yes or no. This video tutorial shows you how to create digital forms using fields who will give you quantitative data.

Overall, quantitative data is better for creating reports because the information is standardized. It’s incredibly useful for survey data collection and creating visuals for immediate trend interpretation.

Quantitative data is ideal for field data collection, as it’s easy to chart, track, and interpret. On the other hand, quantitative data doesn’t give away too many details regarding the observed state, other than what we can see and count. For example, quantitative data will tell you that the door is in bad condition, but it will not inform you how it got that way.

 That’s where qualitative data comes in.

 Utilizing Qualitative Data

Unlike quantitative data, qualitative data is a result of open questions. Qualitative data include opinions and interpretations from people or experts who made the observations. 

They typically write their findings in their own words, which leads to loss of data accuracy and reliability. Qualitative data has so much to offer us but needs execution similar to that of quantitative data to boost accuracy. Using a digital forms app to create questions and control responses is an excellent start to authenticating qualitative data results.

Conclusion: What is better in your data collection methods?

When it comes to quantitative versus qualitative data in a field data collection operation, put quantitative first. Only employ qualitative when it’s essential for a better understanding of the observed situation.

Coral Collect is happy to present you with free access the only data collection solution you’ll ever need. With Coral Collect, you and your team can collect, save, and share data in the field.

This collaborative solution allows for every level of your organization (technicians, analysts, managers, etc.) to have a place in the management of field data. In a world of inaccuracy, let Coral Collect act as your source of data reliability. Sign up today!

Top 5 tips for creating a good mobile digital form

 So, you’ve decided to turn your field data collection paper form into a mobile digital form. You’ll want to make one that not only captures information but analyzes it to extract meaningful insights.

Here, we’re going to cover the most useful tips when creating an efficient digital form for mobile data collection. These 5 main tips are:

  • The choice of a platform with a mobile form builder
  • Headers
  • Temporal fields
  • Predefined observation choices
  • Photo field 

1.   Choose a platform with a form builder

Specifically, work from a field data collection app that’s modular and includes a drag and drop form builder. It should also contain a wide variety of fields (checkbox, text, number, etc.). You’ll then be able to create a form that’s as customized as possible. 

2.   Add in headers in your digital form

The longer your form, the more important it is that you include headers that categorize the responses. They’ll allow you to quickly locate information that still needs to be collected.

3.   Include temporal fields in your digital form

It’s important to capture the date and time your form was filled out.

You’ll find this information useful for a few things, especially:

  • Temporal data analysis and traceability,
  • To highlight any patterns in how observations change over time. 

4.   Write predefined observation choices

To make your data easier to analyze, you’ll want to limit the user’s ability to write personalized responses or comments as much as possible (except for occasions when you’re specifically gathering qualitative data).

Predefined answer choices increase the reliability of the data and efficiency of the data collection operation, because they result in:

  • Standardized and more precise data
  • Reduced time to complete the form – users can categorize their observations into one of your options

Of course, there may be times when, despite your best efforts to provide the right options, the user needs to indicate a different answer. You should therefore add an ‘Other’ choice to each question, along with a text field that the user can complete. If their answer is useful for future responses, add this missing item to your data collection form moving forward.

5.   Insert a photo field

Add a photo field into your form to provide visuals that add extra value. In fact, only a photo will usually provide a visual that will specify the state of the observed data.

The Coral Collect app has a simple-to-use form builder. With it, you’ll be able to quickly create personalized forms, from the most basic to complex data collection operations.

And as a bonus, you can collect your data directly from your mobile app on iOS and Android devices anywhere.

We even have a video guide to help you create your first form.Try out Coral Collect for free today.

How mobile technology improves inspections?

The offer in the field of mobile data collection technologies is increasingly diverse to meet growing demand from the inspection industry. This business sector covers several areas such as:

  • Construction,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Street furniture,
  • Roads, 
  • Public works, etc.

More and more companies specializing in field inspections are migrating to digital technology to increase their productivity and reduce their costs.

We’re here today to introduce you to the concept of using mobile apps to improve data collection methods when it comes to field surveying.

How do mobile apps improve inspections?

Mobile apps can improve inspections in several ways:

  • Elimination of redundant tasks
  • Digitization of forms
  • Transcription and data processing
  • Geolocation of data
  • Access to inspection history
  • Real-time data and operations planning
  • Better communication within an organization
  • Quality report

Digitization of forms

Firstly, digital migration is notably reflected in the abandonment of paper forms in favor of digital forms found in field data collection applications.

Transcription and data processing

Going digital for your fieldwork and data collection eliminates the re-transcription of data from the paper form into a database and of the manual management of photos taken with a camera in the field. The mobile app automatically replaces these tedious and time-consuming steps.

Elimination of redundant tasks

Mobile apps can improve inspections by eliminating redundant tasks like manually creating reports  and databases. Using an app allows you to create digital forms and export the form completed in the format that is most convenient for you.

Geolocation of data

Another significant benefit is the geolocation of data. Exact coordinates are available through the app and phone GPS system, which can save many steps when it comes to charting the data locations.

Indeed, when carrying out inspections it is especially important to take the geographical position of the surveys. With the traditional paper form method, field staff typically use a GPS device to obtain lat-long coordinates during the inspection. The mobile application automatically captures this information and links it to the statement.

Access to inspection history

Mobile technology allows the inspector to have access to data from previous inspections directly on their mobile devices. Thus, they can see the evolution of the condition of the inspected equipment and update the survey in the database directly in the field.

The data collection tool allows for better communication between the members of your inspection team and prevents lapses of information because everything they need to know is  available right in the app.

Real-time data and operations planning

Another benefit of using mobile apps for data collection is in the inspection route planning tasks. It is a laborious task when done in the traditional way as the schedule of daily inspections to be performed has to be manually entered on a list or map.

The data collection application displays real-time inspections that have been performed and are accessible to all team members. Managers save precious time to optimally plan routes while minimizing the risk of error.

Better communication within an organization

Mobile data collection apps allow for better communication between inspection and repair (maintenance) services. These apps facilitate the sharing of information in real-time, so there is no administrative lag.

Let’s take standpipes, for example.

With the traditional method, the inspection team must manually forward the position of the fire hydrant to be repaired to the repair team. This process of sharing information is laborious and can lead to errors and delays.

The field data mobile application tells the repair team in real-time which standpipes to repair. Thus, maintenance teams can find their way easily and directly access georeferenced surveys.

When the repair has been carried out, the information is automatically entered into the database. It also becomes accessible in real-time to project managers.

Quality report

Finally, there are some huge benefits to using a mobile app here, including automated report creation (preventing further administrative lags). The mobile application also helps prevent errors when handling data. It can instantly create a PDF or Excel report seconds after the end of the operation. The visual interfaces often help both surveyors and clients to make better decisions more quickly.

The quality of this report and the speed with which it is provided to the client represents an advantage for the inspection company over the competition.  Indeed, this may promote better customer retention and, even, an increase in the leads conversion rate.

Conclusion

Finally, depending on the mobile application you choose, you will have an integrated online map on which the inspection data you have collected in the field will be displayed.

You can use app properties like filtering and adding color codes to your various inspection reports and access visuals that will allow you to make better decisions faster.

When considering mobile data inspection tools, one of the most comprehensive solutions that come to mind is Coral Collect. 

Coral Collect is a solution that allows us to collect, save and share data in the field in a collaborative way. This solution encourages the involvement of all levels of the organization in the management of field data.

Users can use Coral Collect’s features to create digital forms with an online form builder, fill out forms in the field with the mobile application, and view/export data onto a dashboard for comprehensive reports accessible to the entire team. All levels of your team from technicians to analysts to managers will benefit from using Coral Collect.

To learn more about the benefits of using a field data collection app, please read Automation of Field Data Collection Processes: The Key to Being Effective