In my Digital Mapping class this semester I’ve assigned an exercise to collect data using smartphones. In the past I might have used epicollect, but these days Fulcrumapp is the better choice: more fully featured and better supported.
From an educational point of view the downside is that it is a professional tool with a professional price. Fulcrum’s app is designed to collect data in small teams. A team leader sets up a series of question and response possibilities using drop-down menus on a website and sends out emails to the team members to join that project (or “app”). Once you log in on your phone (using a little bit confusingly the Fulcrum App, available for both iPhone and Android), you can start collecting georeferenced data. You can also take photos at each data location. This is then all synced up to the web-based project.
Fulcrum’s pricing plan is based on how many people join your team, with prices quickly increasing beyond my reach for even five members (a 1-member single user account ifs free). Luckily Fulcrum agreed to give me a time-expired account that could be shared between all members of my class (over 200 students).
My exercise asks students to collect data across campus for several variables: how happy they feel, how much vegetation is present, what the weather is like, and how noisy it is. (We made several options for each data variable.)
Here’s the student map as of today: 155 data records (it’s due next week so not all student have collected data yet). I’ve uploaded the .CSV file into CartoDB to explore visualization options on that platform, although the students have been asked to use Esri’s ArcGIS.com for the exercise. The rectangles here show data density.
This visualization uses CartoDB’s Density tool to show rectangles. This is similar to hexbins. As you change the zoom level the data bins differently, which is what you’d want. I can’t see a way to show the attribute data in CartoDB however (ie., instead of showing just where there’s more densely collected data, to show the data variables themselves such as happiness levels).
CartoDB–am I missing something here?
CartoDB has a small selection of base maps (not as many as Esri and
funnily enough not including OSM. Edit: These can be added through a simple operation, see comment below. You can add a Mapbox base map however). Another thing I need to figure out is how to rearrange the order of legend items (“somewhat happy” came out above “very happy”) when I used the Category tool.
What I’d like to know next is how Mapbox, CartoDB, Gecommons (possibly being deprecated), QGIS, and other options can “fit together” in a workflow. Are they all necessary? Which is best for students? Eg., Fulcrum is good, but their pricing plan is not compatible with academia (I got in with them via Twitter!).
Also, what am I missing by not using the Fulcrum API? I suspect live streaming of data–the next step to explore? What else can the API do? I’ve never used an API, how do I use it? Maybe I can bring live data into CartoDB? (And then…?) Much to learn.