Data collection is fundamental to water and environmental management. Streamflows, reservoir elevations, and flows in canals and conduits, for example, are continuously monitored to support decisions ranging from real-time operations to long-term planning. Data are routinely collected to monitor infrastructure conditions and identify maintenance priorities, and a wide range of environmental data are collected to characterize habitat conditions, monitor fish and wildlife populations, and support ecosystem restoration programs. Scientists, engineers, and technicians are increasingly using mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones to record measurements, document site locations via GPS, and take photos and notes in the field.
Numerous apps are already available to support general data collection; however, these apps do not provide the functionality and flexibility needed to support the broad range of water and environmental monitoring needs. For example, most existing apps are unable to interface with field instruments (e.g., sensors and data loggers), and many have limited options for exporting data.
Development of a flexible, extensible, and open source data collection app framework for mobile devices will facilitate the use of mobile devices for field data collection, which in turn will improve data collection efficiency, lower data collection costs, and improve data quality, transparency, and dissemination for applications to management, decision making, and scientific discovery.