SRB&A Selects TerraGo Edge for Anthropological Research

Quick Summary

Stephen R. Braund & Associates (SRB&A) is an anthropological survey and research firm based in Anchorage, Alaska. They have been providing scientific subsistence and ethnographic research in Alaska since the 1970s on topics such as subsistence hunting and fishing, wildlife, traditional knowledge, environmental issues, and the impacts of development.
  • Natural resource data collection in harsh environments
  • Needs an all-in-one solution with offline maps, GPS, and mobile field data collection
  • Requirement for real-time location monitoring
  • TerraGo Custom Field Application notebooks
  • Offline mapping, custom forms and an open database
  • High-precision GPS support
  • Highly customizable, simplified data collection
  • Real-time progress reports
  • Improved data workflows

The Challenge

In Alaska, SRB&A is responsible for dispatching field crews to collect natural resource data in one of the harshest environments possible. This data is critical to monitoring the population and health of native species. Teams need to be able to navigate in unknown environments and manage data collection in an organized manner.

Historically, SRB&A has used a combination of paper forms alongside a variety of hardware and software. The lack of an all-in-one solution that could provide offline maps, GPS, and mobile field data collection meant that data needed to be entered multiple times across different systems. While some applications could provide offline maps, they did not include an ability to input data. Other solutions didn’t provide enough flexibility in the form creation process, or couldn’t create polygons or shapes to designate the survey area.

Alaska covers over 660,000 square miles of area, so keeping track of workers was also a challenge. Both employee safety and efficiency are constant issues while these field workers are out collecting data. A need for real time location monitoring was also something that no other solution provided.

“We found the TerraGo Custom Field Application to be one of the best apps available for handling offline maps. In Alaska, we are often disconnected and this was of utmost importance to us.” – Paul Lawrence, Research Associate at SRB&A

The Solution

Given the speed at which mobile technology changes, SRB&A did not want to build their own proprietary software. The ideal solution would allow them to customize an existing, regularly maintained platform with offline maps and forms to personalize projects for their employees. SRB&A looked at several different solutions, but settled on the TerraGo Custom Field Application because of a few main advantages. Deployment of the client apps proved to be very easy with distribution through the Apple App Store, with no need for proprietary hardware. A simple user interface meant that field workers could be up and collecting data in minutes without the need to study a user manual.

Field workers loved the powerful offline capabilities of TerraGo Edge, since most of Alaska does not have cellular coverage. By bundling offline maps with project notebooks ahead of time, users would have access to terrain data and common place names that made referencing their data easier. Data could be collected and then synced back to the server at a later time when they had connectivity.

From a management point of view, it was important that the data could be synced back quickly, and easily analyzed. The open nature of TerraGo’s custom field application meant that SRB&A could not only view job progress in real time from a web interface, but they could also extract that data in multiple open formats to any system or database that they chose.

“TerraGo helped to drastically simplify our data collection process. In the past we were forced to use multiple approaches and manually combine the data later. Because this software has both custom forms and maps, our field users could collect data all in one place. This saves us both time and money out in the field and back at the office, where we have to clean up the data.” Paul Lawrence, Research Associate at SRB&A

The Results

At SRB&A, TerraGo provided a solution that was highly customizable, simplified data collection with an intuitive user interface and powerful offline features, and improved the time it took to get data both into and out of their systems and workflow.