There remain very few good offline mobile GIS products which integrate with enterprise systems. The oil and gas is one sector in particular requires its field based staff to have offline access to interactive maps. Locating, discovering and querying oil and gas assets in remote areas is common. Today that often means using paper maps, or a mix of overly complex mobile apps. Simple and focused GIS mobile apps is what we have be producing for our oil and gas clients. In this article we will discuss two different oil and gas mobile GIS projects with a core offline requirement.
Mobile Apps for the Oil and Gas Sectors
1. iPad Offline Mobile GIS App for Pipeline Monitoring and Inspection
We were approached by a large oil company to develop an offline mobile GIS app for pipeline monitoring and inspection. Crews were often working in remote areas making the ability to view maps and layers while offline essential. The requirements for the application itself were not complex and included:
– The app would be used by crews using iPads.
– Data-sets were large, so the application had to be able to handle many features and layers
– Custom forms were needed.
– Offline routing was important.
– The mobile app needed to integrate with Esri’s ArcGIS.
There are today a number of ways mobile apps can be developed. But given the core requirements, it was decided to develop a native mobile GIS app using the ArcGIS runtime SDK. The mobile GIS app was built specifically for the iOS or Apple platform, and styled for the iPad tablet.
2. Cross-Platform, Cross-Device Offline GIS App for Collecting Oil Well Data
Currently we are developing a oil wells data collection mobile GIS app. Again offline is a key component. But unlike the native pipeline app a key requirement for this project is a single app which runs on different devices and platforms. That means laptops, smartphone, tablets, Apple and Android devices. This presented an interesting challenge. We could have built three versions of the mobile app: one for Apple, another for Android and a third for Windows. But the client did not want the challenge of managing and maintaining 3 versions of the same application. The data-sets to be used are relatively small. Plus the client wanted to add additional tools over time.
Advances in Web technology now mean it is possible to take mobile Web apps offline. This is the path we chose. Using a combination of widgets, or simple to build, configurable GIS tools, and databases local to the mobile device (in our case indexDB).
The mobile GIS app provides a new level of flexibility not possible with native apps. Should we need to add the ability for the app to use bluetooth based high accuracy GPS units for example, that is now not a problem.
So two interesting oil and gas based projects, both requiring offline. Given differing requirements our development team took quite different approaches. As mobile GIS becomes more popular and the demand for offline capabilities grows, it is good today we have an increasing number of options to provide good solutions.
Read more about Mobile GIS for Mining Exploration Geologists.
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