Gone are the days when governmental agencies, Industries, and consultants, etc. had to collect field data manually on paper-based forms. These entities are now moving towards digital transformation through tech-infused innovations to navigate through their workflows.
The advantages are vast and numerous but simply put, this new technology helps the user collect more field data and process it in a more accurate and efficient manner – here are some benefits of implementing automated electronic field data collection:
Data Is Made Instantly Available For Analysis
In the past, the procedure of field data collection and processing was conducted essentially by hand, using paper forms. The collected information had to then be analyzed, logged and processed (data entry) into various digital formats and software applications.
This was an extremely time-consuming and inefficient process, especially due to the large amount of data. But with electronic data collection tools, the data is collected electronically, usually on a specialized laptop or wireless device/tablet, and then directly transferred and processed from a centralized database.
This saves a considerable amount of time as manual data entry is no longer needed and analysis can be carried out swiftly; this, in turn, allows for quicker decision making and more accurate data.
Data Quality Is Enhanced
With the help of real-time analysis and reporting, data collection teams can ensure that all the data is at par with the required benchmarks and standards directly from the site location (“field”).
Here are some examples of how data is analyzed and collected in the field:
- Completeness Checks: All required fields are properly populated, and nothing is overlooked
- Range Checks: Cross-checking is done to ensure that all the results fall within a logical range
- Reference Values: Verification procedures are conducted ensuring that all reference values are properly included in the acquired data
When using an electronic data collection method, the authentication of the data is measured while still in the field. Then, if discrepancies are found after comparison with historical data or trends, the team can get to the bottom of it and make adjustments while still onsite.
Another positive aspect is that currently, there are many tools available to upload data with the right media files (photos, voice memos, etc.). So, when the entry is revisited, all the available information such as attachments are also displayed for a complete picture.
Supporting Tools for Field Crews
Depending on the product, many tools allow the collection of data via cell phones, tablets, and laptops. Again, all of the information is collected directly from the device and populated into a centralized database electronically, perhaps wirelessly.
Mapping and GPS
Most products feature a GPS function in mobile devices (mobiles, laptops, and tablets). New locations can be entered directly and tracked using their coordinates.
Tools and devices such as piezometers, weather stations, drones, multimeters, etc. can collect data and directly add it to a database. This gives the option of gaining quick access to detailed reports.
Integration Of Barcode Devices
By using a barcode reader, errors can be significantly reduced, and data entry becomes more seamless. Field inspectors can concentrate on what is important, rather than taking time out for manual entries. By simply connecting different barcodes to record data, the user can start populating their database with valuable data and information.