Test: Survey123 and Collector for ArcGIS
This blog post introduces and contrasts two relatively new tools for mobile data collection from the ESRI suite. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of these tools and in which context can they be used?
We want to introduce you to working with Collector and Survey123 for ArcGIS which was just recently released into beta version meaning there is still a lot of development going on. To get a good overview of the two tools, we invite you to first take a look at the following presentation where we compare the two tools and their approach to mobile data collection.
As you can see both tools offer exiting opportunities for mobile mapping and especially the simplicity of the data collection and synchronization back with the database makes it worthwhile considering these tools for data collection. Furthermore, the possibility offered by Collector for ArcGIS to go back to the field with the phones and update your information at a later stage is somewhat hard to find in most MDC tools.
Nevertheless, we don’t want to deny the fact that both Survey123 and Collector for ArcGIS also have limitations you should be aware of. First of all, being ESRI products they both require you to have an ArcGIS Online organisation account or a Portal for ArcGIS installed on your server. There is no way to do collaborative mapping or citizen science with those tools yet. ArcGIS Online in particular might not be one of the most cost-efficient product ever to see the light of day. Each enumerator will need an account and each account will cost you money. For Survey123 you can share an account between three devices ( although this may not be wanted by ESRI) but don’t try that with Collector you won’t be able to synchronize your data anymore. In addition, in case your layers are stored on ArcGIS Online this will cost you again. So if you don’t yet have an organization account you might not want to set it up for just a one-off exercise. Second, comparing the two tools shows you that you cannot have the one tool that can do it all. You have to decide: either have points, polygons, lines and sync with your database server directly or have skip logic, required questions, language switching and all based on the open Xform standards. But keep in mind that Survey123 for ArcGIS is still evolving and new releases and updates happen regularly. It might become more powerful in the future.
In conclusion, those two tools can really have a great added value for your mobile data collection, but they might not be the only tools you should be considering. You can have a look at the Nomad website for more MDC tools: http://humanitarian-nomad.org/