Monday, May 30, 2011

Bernhard Vockner: EDC Outstanding Student of the Year

As an ESRI Development Center, the University of Salzburg Center for Geoinformatics -Z_GIS- is proud to announce this year's award for 'Outstanding Student of the Year' going to
Bernhard VOCKNER
for his MSc thesis in Applied Geoinformatics titled
Application development for mobile environmental data acquisition – a prototype for Berchtesgaden National Park

In cooperation with Berchtesgaden National Park and the Research Studio iSPACE Bernhard Vockner developed a solution for simple, workflow-centric field data acquisition with mobile devices on ArcGIS Mobile. Decisive for this choice was the enhanced performance of Smartphones and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), facilitating advanced mobile applications for environmental data acquisition. With their multitude of functions, many currently available products are tailored for expert users. However, numerous potential end users are domain experts having little or no prior GIS-knowledge.

Based on the principle that ‘GIS must be simple to use’, a mobile context-sensitive prototype application was developed. Above all, the application features intuitive simplicity of operations adapted to the key requirement of automated recording of specific spatial information by domain experts (e.g. zoologists). Thus, technical functions on the client side focus clearly on users’ key requirements. A requirements analysis demonstrated that in this case, point or line feature collection via GPS, intuitive attribute data input and photographic documentation for each record were most frequently requested by the target group and therefore implemented in the mobile application. To validate the usability of the application, a usability testing procedure was carried out.

For technical realization of the requirements profile, i.e. easy recording or updating of field data, implementation with ArcGIS server and ArcGIS Mobile (terminals with Windows Mobile) was used. A major disadvantage of this choice of technology is that the interaction design (such as operation and optics) of Windows Mobile Terminals barely meets existing requirements. Against this backdrop a user interface was developed specifically to combine the state-of-the-art interaction design of modern mobile phones with the requirements profile of a mobile GI-workplace in a hand-held device.

Additionally, quality assured integration into the Berchtesgaden National Park Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) was ensured through automated client-server-synchronization over GPRS/UMTS in a service oriented environment. As a practical outcome, a mobile prototype application to record features with GPS, enter attribute data and provide photographic documentation which can be handled by users with little or no previous GIS-knowledge was delivered for extended field testing

Bernhard Vockner’s thesis was submitted in 2010 and graded as ‘excellent’.

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