Tony Edwards' Program Notes

Question 1. How can a landowner use his iPhone to help map his property for GIS?

Answer 1: A great many people use iPhones as their personal phones. But many people really aren’t aware that the built in GPS is a useful tool to help you find your way around and collect location data that can be used to manage forestland property. I use about three “Apps” on my phone to collect information I use to manage my personal property and many times the property I manage at work.
GIS is a way of collecting and tying geographic information, a specific location on Earth, to a database. A database can be type of tree, property corners, or any information you can collect. GPS provides the location you need to record.
The biggest problem many people have is that they need to be “connected” to a wireless carrier to use programs like Google Maps and Bing. Many of the locations of rural timberland do not have good cell signals, and many people do not have a data plan. The good thing about many of the apps I use, is that you can download the map data ahead of time through your home wifi or even the wifi supplied at a lot of public places.

Question 2. Okay, tell me how one or two of these apps help a landowner to collect data?

Answer 2: One of the apps I use is Offline Topo maps. In a lot of situations where I need a Topo map, I may not have access to cellular data. Using their interface, I download a topo map ahead of time of the area I’m going to visit. When I launch the application, and press the GPS button, it will tell me it plans to use the cached data. Then it locates me onto the previously stored map. The program also allows me to place marks or “pins” next to the location I am at. It will then prompt me to add some text information if I want. Later. I can recall theses locations and put them into a GIS program to start collecting data about certain sites. The biggest caution is to remember to turn the GPS off after you collect your data or it will run your battery down fairly quick.
Another app I use is icmtgis. It is a pretty powerful “real” GIS program. Using it, a landowner can either use their dedicated interface to access the information collected, or they can access it through itunes on their computer and export it to a dedicated GIS program. It allows one to preload maps and collect information which can be used to generate areas on the map. Say a landowner wanted to measure the number of acres of timberland they are planning to cut. Using icmtgis, they could collect the outline and calculate the acres area in the field.

Question 3. How much training do these require?

Answer 3. Well, they do require some familiarity with maps and the way the iPhone works. Offline Topo Maps is fairly intuitive and easy to learn. It only costs a couple of dollars through the app store. Downloading a map is as easy as swiping your finger.
The icmtgis takes a little more study but they provide a User Guide on the Corvallis website that gets a user started. Best of all, it’s free.
If a person really wants to start a database of the features of their property, they can use these programs to collect location data and tie them to data collected on say an excel spreadsheet.
Another neat thing that a lot of iPhone users don’t know is that photos taken with the iPhone collect location data when location services are turned on. They can be accessed by looking in the properties folder after downloading to your pc or mac.