Today we had an interview with Sitka Technology Group; a software firm that can customize your data collection needs. This discussion covers their program: GeoOptix. For more information about Sitka, please visit their site HERE.
Sitka Technology Group is a team of conscientious systems designers with exceptional expertise in environmental services. As developers, Sitka understands that ecosystems are too complex to manage without supporting technology. The company works with governments, non-profits and the private sector to develop natural resource management tools that make more efficient use of environmental investments.
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ANATUM: Can you give a brief description of your product and your pricing structure?
Sitka: GeoOptix is a cloud-based environmental monitoring platform that handles the entire lifecycle of a program. From setup and iPad-based collection to QA, analysis, and publishing, GeoOptix automates the entire process in a centralized system. Pricing is based on the number of field visits performed and the number of new protocols used. Protocols already defined in MonitoringMethods.org are free.
ANATUM: Does your product support disconnected editing, or does it require a Wi-Fi or cellular service connection?
Sitka: Editing can be done on the iPad in the field without Wi-Fi or cellular service. We also provide online tools to speed up QA back in the office after surveys have been uploaded to the central database.
ANATUM: Is User data and project features stored on your company’s server or a cloud database? What are the security features to protect the User’s data?
Sitka: User data and product features are stored on Sitka’s secure cloud, which is certified annually to meet the strict Federal Information Security Act provisions. Each program’s data is separated out in the database and protected via unique login and passwords.
ANATUM: Can users sync their data from the field so office coworkers can see new data, or have the office staff feed new project data to workers in the field?
Sitka: Yes, users can sync their data from the field and office staff can push new project data and field guides out to their field crews. The bi-directional communication enables significant time savings in communication.
ANATUM: Is there a native map component and what mapping service does it use?
Sitka: GeoOptix uses the native Apple maps for its iPad-based field collection
ANATUM: Does the mapping system require “checking out” a map or does it cache imagery for use in the field and working disconnected?
Sitka: GeoOptix currently does not supply maps when users are in the field, so there are no checkouts and none cached. Adding cached maps is already budgeted for in our scope of work this 2014 offseason.
ANATUM: Does your program record points, lines, and polygons with the ability to customize data collection forms based on the paper datasheets they might normally utilize?
Sitka: GeoOptix provides the ability to record points and to customize data collection forms for each new protocol, though they are not meant to replicate the look and feel of paper forms. Survey questions are mapped to a data dictionary so that upon upload the centralized databased knows what type of data is being recorded. This makes it easier to compile data from multiple projects — ideal for aggregating status, trend, and effectiveness information across an entire program and even between programs.
ANATUM: Does your program record photos and video for attachment to GPS records? Can the User import an existing photo from the Camera Roll?
Sitka: GeoOptix associates photos taken in the field with GIS points to the survey questions automatically so that there is no need to marry them up later back in the office. It does not record video at this time.
ANATUM: Is there a search for feature or GPS record function?
Sitka: GeoOptix does not include the ability to search for features or collect GPS records.
ANATUM: Does your program have the ability to view the history of previously recorded field entries, or GPS records from other users? (i.e., Can users open records recorded by other users and see the data recorded by the original author of the data point?)
Sitka: GeoOptix records all historic records so that users can open records from previous visits to compare results per data point. Survey crews return to previously visited sites with the historical records of those visits on their iPad logger.
ANATUM: Does your program have the ability to auto-generate ID numbers for records to help minimize incorrect labeling by the user?
Sitka: Though GeoOptix does not generate ID numbers, all data that is collected is mapped to the underlying data dictionary, which supports quality control in the field and in the office.
ANATUM: Is there a desktop interface that allows the user to see their projects and edit field-collected data?
Sitka: GeoOptix provides both a desktop interface and cloud-based QA tools to see projects and edit data. This significantly shortens the amount of time it takes to edit data collected in the field. Data can be downloaded as a text file, an Excel spreadsheet, or for Access. There are no preset report formats.
ANATUM: Are there any particular features that you want to highlight?
Sitka: GeoOptix utilizes the monitoring tools provided by the Pacific NW Aquatic Monitoring Partnership in order to advance the practice of data sharing, increasing collaboration around standard protocols.
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