Mobile GIS

4 Ways to Enhance Your Survey Forms with Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS

 4 Ways to Enhance Your Survey Forms with Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS

Survey123 Connect for ArcGIS is a desktop tool that allows you to create and publish survey forms to ArcGIS for your data collection needs. Signing in with your ArcGIS Online credentials connects Survey123 Connect to your organization, and once you create a survey, the form and feature service are stored in ArcGIS Online. The survey form can be accessed and edited in the Survey123 for ArcGIS mobile app, or managed through the Survey123 for ArcGIS website. There are hundreds of ways to enhance your survey forms; here are a chosen few to check out.

Creating Line Features in the Field (Snap!)

Need to create line features in the field? Grab a tablet, the Collector App for ArcGIS supports point, lines and polygon creation and editing. Wait, but what about connectivity? If the lines are created on a touch screen device they are going to be as accurate as…well as drawing things with your finger, right? No worries. If you have ArcGIS for Desktop Standard, you have the Snap tool available to you, which will help you out. Once you’re done making your field additions, you can bring the data back into Desktop and run Snap to ensure coincidence of features. You could just consider it the most useful markup method ever. (!)



AGOL  Organizational Acct

Editable Feature Service(s) accessible on AGOL

ArcGIS for desktop Standard

Mobile Device


Before & After The red line was created in the field with Collector on iPad. The blue line has been snapped to the poles layer using the gp tool:

Important:  Ensure vertices are added at (or near) every coincidence location while creating line features, as you will need them later for this process.

Note: This method may be possible without Organizational Account/Collector but is very likely not near as fluid.

ArcGIS Collector App- Reviewed

It's no secret that Cloudpoint is an Esri Shop. Being in the Business Partner Network, receiving the AGOL Specialist  status ... we drink the kool-aid. I've been like that since forever.

So What? Get over it. 

Still, as skeptical consumers and technologists, there is still a part of us that wants to test. Make sure we're progressing rather than regressing. We want to make sure we know and understand the different options for our customers and what has been released. One of the worst things is to spend 100s of hours with your head down working away on a solution only to find out something very close was released for free or very cost-effectively months ago. (True Story)

Thus enters ArcGIS Collector. If you haven't used Collector and you have an Android or iOS device, go download and try it out. I don't have the time and you don't have the attention span to  address all the merits of the app. It's good. If you're in GIS, You should use it. 

Initially released as a Native iOS iPhone only app, Collector has had an upgrade recently and I want to compare new vs old:

New (10.2)

  • Optimized for iPad
  • Less Menus
  • Set GPS Accuracy Tolerance
  • Edit Lines!!
  • Addition of Bookmarks
  • Easier Basemap Switching

Old (10.1.12)

  • Quicker Menus
  • Further "Zoom" Ratio
  • More simple interface
  • Better Battery life
  • Map Icons Larger
  • Legend (albeit Buried)

Spoiler: I have the Old App here as a Zip file, Install it through iTunes & turn off Automatic Updates. 

Admittedly, there's no benchmarks for the battery life, and it could be that the iPads hare just older.  But the Zoom-In thing is real, because you have to 2x the app since it was built for the iPhone, that magnifies everything, icons, imagery etc. Sure if you go back to 1x or native resolution, everything is the same, but try explaining that to 10 burly Electrical Workers complaining about the update. 

Menus. This might seem like a 'small thing' as well but it takes a few seconds longer to enter information. You have to move across the screen to close the box or choose a drop-down. A few seconds times 10,000... now wer're talking real productivity. 


The Newer iPad app may have some problems and quirks, but so did the old app as well does the Android. The perspective we keep is that it's a great tool. And outweighing all of these issues is the fact that you can Edit Lines!!! Seriously that's huge. Aerial imagery is crucial. The GPS is never accurate enough to use in collection, but it'll get you to the right side of the street to click on the map. 

----- Update for Android Device -----

This is from Paul. Using the Android out on a Sign Inventory:

So the Android didn't work out so well. I went to use it when the iPad was getting low... Right off the bat I noticed the GPS was taking longer to settle. I found that I could complete taking a point but it would not submit. After messing about a while I figured I was starting to kill time so I used the inverter I had with me (thanks Jon!) with the iPad for the remainder of the day. It was a pain to keep it on life support, but it worked out.

I planned on doing some research this evening but found the Samsung acting erratic - locking up, powering down and giving internet access problems warnings. So I would say its the definitely something with the device...I did get it to act normal again after powering it down and back on, so I'll give it another go tomorrow and report back.

And here's the review-to-date. It's certainly not a fair assessment at this point but there are a few things I noted today:


  • Switching between saved users instead of entering username/password each time
  • Zooms in closer


  • Doesn’t work
  • GPS Location less responsive
  • Must reach across screen when adding more than one picture
  • Must reach across screen when submitting a feature
  • Portrait-only mode
  • Screen seems less responsive (may just be the case type)


I will really miss the strap on the LifeProof case. It allows you to hold the tablet securely without a constant grip

Jon Made a video on how to use Collector:

So what's my accuracy??? Mobile Device GPS with iPad, iPhone, & Android

If you have ever been involved with a GIS project that requires data collection using a handheld device there is no doubt that you at some point ask yourself "Is this spatially accurate enough?".  Well here is some evidence that proves those little tiny GPS chips within those smart phones are actually pretty good.

We wanted to get some numbers for this idea so we took five different mobile devices (listed below) and tested their GPS accuracy against a known control point (NGS Point ID: DF4314).  Our chosen devices were:

  1. iPad 4th Gen (16GB WiFi + LTE)
  2. iPhone 4S (3G)
  3. Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
  4. Garmin Colorado 300
  5. Trimble Geo XH 6000

What we discovered was somewhat surprising.  As you can see from the list these devices vary in use from the simple smart phone for  GPS navigation & driving directions, to the professional series Trimble Geo capable of providing survey grade GPS positioning.  Below is a map showing the different precision & accuracy for each device in relation to the benchmark.  We stood over the known control point and collected five GPS points with each device and averaged them and found the following observations as a result:

Click here for map of plotted points

  • When it comes to accuracy, you get what you pay for as it was no surprise that the Trimble unit provided the greatest accuracy when used with real time corrections.
  • Most of the devices, such as the Motorola, had good precision but lacked in accuracy.
  • All devices, except for the Trimble, missed the mark in the northwest direction.
  • The uncorrected data from the Trimble provided very high precision but low accuracy.
  • The iPhone was all over the place on its readings but came within 4 feet of the target when the points were averaged (that's outstanding!)
  • In general, the iOS devices outperforms all of the competition when averaged except for the professional grade systems

So what does all of this show us?  It proves that you still have to pay big dollars (+$10k) to get a "high accuracy" GPS device but you can make an awfully strong case for a $600 iPad with the right data collection app.  Who knows, maybe the day of "survey grade" accuracy in a smartphone is in the very near future.  

A pile of GPS mobile devices sitting atop our known control point.