What is Mobile GIS?

Advances in mobile computing and GIS technology are enabling organizations to take GIS to the field; interact directly with the information you need to view, capture, and update; and synchronize changes between the field and office with ease.

Growth in mobile computing technology that makes mobile GIS possible for organizations that rely on geospatial capabilities in the field includes the following:

There are several types of Mobile GIS applications:

Traditionally, spatial information has been taken to the field using paper maps, often in the form of map books. Information collected with a map book in the field was sketched as notes on paper maps and entered into the GIS when the field-worker returned to the office. Field inspections were often performed using forms that were taken to the field, filled out on a clipboard, and entered into a database upon returning to the office. Data entry of paper information was inefficient, repetitive, and prone to error.

Organizations have begun to replace their paper-based systems with mobile applications, and as a result, a number of mobile GIS tasks have emerged:

Mobile GIS solutions enable field workers to complete their tasks by either providing a set of capabilities in a generic, map-centric application framework that requires the field worker to discover how to use, or as a workflow-driven configurable application that will guide the field worker through their tasks. Each solution can be successful depending upon the size and sophistication of the field workforce.

ArcGIS provides three mobile GIS solutions that address simple to complex field tasks in a variety of frameworks. They are:

Regardless of the mobile GIS solution that you choose, ArcGIS Desktop is critical to the success of your mobile GIS efforts. ArcMap is the primary tool used to author mobile maps and fuse updates from the field into the enterprise GIS. ArcCatalog is the management console used to build data and transactional models inside of the GIS that are best suited to managing field updates.

Published 6/7/2010