What Do Your Colleagues Think?

November 23, 2010  - By

Over the past several years, I’ve conducted many webinars on different GPS/GNSS and other geospatial technologies. The audiences have been comprised of hundreds (if not thousands) of participants who have the ability to ask questions and also participate on various polls I conduct during the webinars.The poll results are a powerful tool that illustrates what your colleagues think about GPS/GNSS, their field practices and general attitude about geospatial technology.

In this column, I’ll published the poll results from last week’s webinar as well as some select polls from previous webinars in an effort to paint a picture of what your colleagues are thinking.


Poll #1 (Nov. 16 webinar): What’s your budget, per unit, for GPS/GIS data collection systems this year?


Gakstatter comment: “It is what it is” in this economy. 32.2% of you have no budget for this., 22%, 11.9%, 16.9% and 16.9% respectively. The good news is that if you scrape and scrap and are able to use some existing hardware/software you might have, you may be able to put together a good quality GPS mapping system a lot less than buying a new system off-the-shelf.



Poll #2 (Nov. 16 webinar): Which ergonomic form factor do you prefer?


Gakstatter comment: This is the first time I’ve asked this question in a poll. The reason I asked is because traditionally, the manufacturers have been focused on all-in-one handheld systems, but in the past several years with the emergence of PDA’s, smartphones and tablet computers, there’s a definitely trend towards separating the GPS receiver and the data collector to increase flexibility. For example, with a separate GPS receiver, you can choose to use a PDA or a tablet depending on the project task. With an All-in-One handheld, you don’t have that flexibility. However, an All-in-one handheld certainly has the advantage of being simpler and more ergonomical. The poll result shows almost an even split with Modular at 52.9% and All-in-one handheld at 47.1%


Poll #3 (Nov. 16 webinar): Which category of data collection software do you prefer?


Gakstatter comment: Like Poll #, this is really about flexibility vs. simplicity. In this case, maximum flexibility means that you are selecting software that is not tied to the hardware (hardware-independent). These types of software, like ArcPad, SurvCE, Field CE GIS, etc. work on several hardware platforms and with several different manufacturers of GPS receivers. The risk is that when there’s a problem, there might be finger pointing between hardware and software vendors. The advantage of a single vendor, of course, is that you have a single point of contact for technical support. In the poll, 58.2% of you chose hardware-independent software (Max flexibility) and 41.8% of you chose hardware-dependent software (Single vendor).



Poll #4 (Nov. 16 webinar): What accuracy do you require from a GPS/GIS data collection system?


Gakstatter comment: This is sort of a loaded question because the webinar was marketed more towards surveyors/engineers rather than general GIS. I think it skewed the results a bit on this poll, but nonetheless, there is a definite trend towards high-accuracy GIS. The poll results show that 34.5% require 1-2cm accuracy, followed by 23% requiring sub-meter, 20.7% requiring sub-foot, 17.2% requiring 1-3 meters, 3.4% requiring 3-5 meters and only 1.1% are happy with 5-10 meters.



Poll #5 (Nov. 16 webinar): How much of your data collection work is under tree canopy?



Gakstatter comment: This is another question I asked for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect. Nearly 70% of you work under tree canopy 25% of the time or less.



Poll #6 (Nov. 16 webinar): For a data collection device, I prefer a:



Gakstatter comment: This is also the first time I’ve asked this question in a poll. The result surprises me a bit due to the emergence of tablet computers and smartphones. However, after thinking about, it’s going to take some time for people to become comfortable with tablets and smartphones for GIS data collection. It’s also going to take time for the industry software vendors to settle down and choose a platform (or develop for all) such as Apple, Windows, Droid, etc. The poll results show that users still prefer handhelds (57.7%) with tablet computers following at 26.9%, then notebook computers a 9%, then smartphones at 6.4%. There is a definite trend, though, towards smartphones. I think we’ll see a substantial increase in popularity over the next couple of years.


Thanks, and see you next time.

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Read PART 2 here.


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