TerraGoThe latest mobile GPS apps and innovations are transforming the nature and quality of field data collection, saving time and money while shedding limitations of legacy devices. 

EnmappFor decades, GPS data-collection solutions have been largely determined by the degree of accuracy and the cost to achieve it. If you needed to achieve sub-meter accuracy, you purchased device A. If you needed to achieve centimeter accuracy, you purchased device B, and paid more to achieve the higher level of precision.

Now there’s a third element to factor in to your GPS data-collection solution. Call it time squared (Time2): the time needed to deploy data collection apps (T1) and the time it takes to get data back from the field (T2).

Field data-collection schedules have always been developed based on answers to these common questions:

But what if the time to deploy could be now?

How to beat the clock

Time is one reason CompassTools began using iOS and Android solutions. For many years CompassTools — a provider of integrated GIS, GPS and wireless solutions for field data collection — offered Trimble handheld GPS devices with great success. Still, the data required manual processing once the devices were returned from the field, introducing expensive delays.

But positioning, mobile and cloud innovations are now making up for lost time.

For starters, Trimble is opening up possibilities on both axes of Time2 using smartphones and tablets. Its first innovation was the creation of Bluetooth-integrated receivers. More recently, the company developed a software-based GNSS receiver that can turn your phone into a high-accuracy positioning device. Platforms like TerraGo Edge can now embed Trimble software in customer apps, enabling them to achieve Trimble accuracy while synchronizing field data in real time using the cloud.

“We really believe that TerraGo’s approach represents an important part of the future data-collection tools that our customers are going to need in the field,” said Andrew Carey, an account manager with CompassTools.

Carey, also a former GIS analyst, presented a typical scenario outlining how users would traditionally collect data (T2).


  1. Build a data dictionary and download it onto each device.
  2. Dispatch crews into the field to collect data.
  3. Bring the collectors — the people and devices — back to the office.
  4. Export data from devices for post-processing by support staff.
  5. Upload data to GIS database.
  6. Convert to data set and reports for customer or end user.

The process, he said, involves too much “deadheading.”

“While this workflow has been invaluable to our customers, we see products like TerraGo that really streamline and eliminate those inefficiencies in field data collection,” Carey said. “Deadheading back into an office to plug the data into a computer is a poor use of time… Technology and software solutions that are coming on line eliminate that deadheading and loss of time.”

If “time is money,” then less time can mean real money savings.

A City of Sebring employee using TerraGo Edge on location

The City of Sebring, Florida, made the leap to TerraGo Edge paired with Bluetooth GPS receivers and saved more than $300,000 compared to legacy GPS and GIS solutions.

“On a day-to-day basis, the biggest benefit is that we get the ease of use of an iPad,” said Mark Kretz, Water Plant Operations, Sebring Utilities.

“We didn’t have to buy and use proprietary GPS handhelds, which are more complex and vastly more expensive.”

When field data-collection requirements warrant extensive customization, as they often do, the preparation work exceeds simply building a data dictionary or adapting an existing GIS feature class. Here, modern mobile solutions can slash T1: the time needed to deploy.

Companies can also effectively eliminate T2 deadheading by offering direct, real-time data transfers to analysts and decision-makers in easy-to-integrate formats. By pairing Trimble’s R1, R2 or other GNSS receivers with cloud-based apps, they can eliminate post-processes and streamline the reporting process, even letting customers see the data as it’s collected.

Adding with zero

Time has another, more impactful role in field data collection. Developing tools for mobile workers has long been the sole province of IT, but the demand for mobile apps is stretching IT to the breaking point. Gartner Research says demand for mobile apps is five times greater than IT capacity.

This explains the emergence of zero-code app development platforms like TerraGo Magic, which can reduce IT’s one-year backlog to a few hours. The equation changes when end users become “citizen developers,” allowed to create custom apps by selecting features and interfaces from a menu of capabilities.

TerraGo Magic zero-code platform explainer



Growth in zero-code technology is coming through partnerships with industry leaders like CompassTools and Duncan-Parnell. These firms have the vertical expertise to customize and deploy tailored solutions at speeds not achievable with traditional approaches.

Zero-code is being called both a game-changer and disruptive technology because it offers a completely new approach to mobile data collection.

“Because TerraGo apps provide direct integration with Trimble receivers, they can help us deliver the best of both worlds for customers with easy-to-use field apps and proven Trimble accuracy,” said York Grow, MGIS Solutions Manager at Duncan-Parnell.

In other words, they are adding Time2 to mobile data collection solutions.

Customized to your Industry and Workflows

Building a customizable, proven, mobile, cloud-based app for field data collection, mapping, asset management, inspection, survey, remote workforce dispatch, customer service, mobile form, field reporting, advanced GIS, high-precision GPS or field operations for any industry or workflow just got a whole lot easier with TerraGo Magic.

Deploy with one click to:

To learn more, download the TerraGo eBook The Definitive Guide to Building Custom GNSS Mobile Apps with Zero-Code.

In this guide, we’ll look at five reasons to take the road less traveled with a “click not code” path to creating and deploying your own custom GNSS enterprise mobile apps. And show you exactly how you can deploy your native iOS, Android or web apps today. 


Download the eBook:

This page was produced by North Coast Media’s content marketing staff in collaboration with TerraGo. NCM Content Marketing connects marketers to audiences and delivers industry trends, business tips and product information. The GPS World editorial staff did not create this content.