Field Data Collection Using Handheld Devices

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Bonneville Power Administration is funding field tests of hand held data devices in several fish research applications in the Columbia Basin, starting this year. PSMFC StreamNet staff Greg Wilke and Mike Banach have been working with state and tribal biologists across the region to identify projects for device testing. The intent is to test several different hardware configurations — Apple iPads, iPad minis, and Panasonic ToughPads, with different waterproof case options. The devices will be rotated through multiple projects in 2014 and 2015 to test their durability, practicality under field conditions, and the contribution the devices make to improving data flow. A survey will be conducted after the field season to collect information on these questions from project biologists.

Using a proprietary software application, Greg and Mike have been adapting data entry forms and working with the projects to download data to Microsoft Access via a web service at StreamNet. Because the data are moved to databases on the web, it is possible for field staff to enter data in far-flung locations and then have the information downloaded into a central location. Some of the devices tested can connect to external devices via Bluetooth, and thus PIT tag readers can be incorporated and the data passed directly into the data record.

So far there are 3 groups testing the units;

  1. WDFW in Clarkston, Washington is running a steelhead weir on Asotin Creek. They have been using a device incorporating a tie in to a PIT tag reader for automatic capture of the PIT tag code into the data without the need to write, enter, and QC the tag codes. This was a good first step for development of a Fulcrum data entry form. After their initial experience on this project Greg and Mike believe development of simple systems should generally be about 1 day.
  2. ODFW in La Grande, Oregon is conducting creel surveys in the Grande Ronde and Imnaha rivers. Again, a PIT tag reader is being used when appropriate. Creel technicians enter data in the field, then sync data in the evening.
  3. The WDFW Snake River Lab in Dayton, Washington are using devices for steelhead hatchery spawning data entry.

We are still looking for additional projects interested in participating in this evaluation, particularly if you do field work outside of the usual summer field season. If you are interested, please contact Mike at 503-595-3152 or