Home Articles How mobile computing benefits real time GIS data collection

How mobile computing benefits real time GIS data collection

Syed Masiur Rahman

Syed Masiur Rahman
City and Regional Planning Department
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM),
Saudi Arabia [email protected]
This paper provides an introduction to the use of mobile computing for real time field data collection. It also investigates the fundamental changes occurred due to the introduction of mobile computing by adding the ability to take GIS with the user at the site and interact directly with the world around him

Mobile computing gives the flexibility to access a GIS time and location independently, not like the stand-alone and wired GIS. The recent development in GIS data collection is mainly served by the development of mobile computing technology. It came into being as a significant contribution of advancement of hardware and wireless communication. It enables us to get rid of time and space dependency. Now, professionals can access and update information at anytime and at anywhere even without physical network connections. There is a clear shift in the field of data collection and analysis from the offline strategy to the real time strategy.

Mobile computing tools help in collecting and analyzing real time digital data. It is contributing in the acquisition and analysis of reliable data through instant validation and digital applications that can prevent attribute discrepancy and entry errors, and offers direct download of support data into a useable form at the site.

Real Time GIS
From temporality point of view, information can be classified as static and dynamic. Generally, real world phenomena are dynamic, and the objects such as cartographic maps, roads, facilities, utilities, etc are static, as they may not change within a short period of time [2]. On the other hand, the information of geospatial objects that change in a short period of time is termed as dynamic [13]. One can consider the following aspects of spatial information based on his working domain [9]

  • Geometrical changes of features over time (such as urban expansion)
  • Positional changes of features over time (such as car movement)
  • Change of features attribute over time (such as traffic volume)
  • Any combination of the above changes

According to the length of duration of time, one can divide dynamic information as real time data, near real time data and time stamped data [6]. By definition, real time data are collected and imported to GIS as soon as an event occurs and real time GIS refers to capability of management, visualization and analysis of graphical and attribute information whenever they input to GIS [13]. Due to the limitations in instantly updating, visualizing and analyzing data to be used in GIS, phrase near real time is more justifiable. Time stamped data represents a time within it in some ways such as an attribute. Some aspects of time that can be considered regarding an event are as follows [14,19]:

  • When an event occurred in real world (valid time)
  • Occurrence duration of an event
  • When information about an event imported to GIS
  • When those data retrieved and manipulated (transaction time)


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