Watersheds “Virtual” outfall monitoring: Orange County Case Study

Watersheds “Virtual” outfall monitoring is a program that requires observations, physical information, and water quality samples to be collected and analyzed at storm drain outfalls (pipes) during dry weather, in order to detect if there are any sources of pollution in the tributary drainage area that need to be addressed.

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Collected photos with Mobile Data Collection app from the field of sampling in progress

Challenges
Prior to using GIS Cloud’s mobile data collection app for this program, data had to be entered into a paper log sheet in the field, and then entered into a database after crews returned from the field.

  • Need to replace an outdated workflow consisted of paper logs and reduce the data input time
  • Need for a data collection tool that enables collaboration in real time (between office and users in the field)
  • Need for a visualizing tool that has the ability of overlaying multiple layers in order to get a resourceful map for conducting field work

Solution
The Mobile Data Collection app has enabled the uploading of photos, observational data, and measurements collected on site using water quality monitoring instruments, in real time, creating a “virtual” monitoring program. This allows management decisions to be made in response to any issues identified in short order. Multiple personnel can analyze data from mobile devices or a computer, as it is collected, and a decision as to whether a follow-up investigation is needed can be made collaboratively. In addition, data layers such as land use and drainage infrastructure that are helpful in conducting pollutant source investigations have been made part of the map using Map Editor, which provides valuable resources for inspectors performing follow-up source investigations.

Map showing watershed subdivisions and MDC locations of collected samples

Results
GIS Cloud has helped make the field crews more efficient by minimizing the amount of time they spend logging in data, while at the same time centralizing it in one location.

  • Easy to use tool for collecting field data with the capability of uploading different types of data (photos, video, observational data, on site measurements etc.)
  • Easy accessible, collaborative tool, enabling multiple personnel to analyze the data from any location on any device
  • Powerful and fast mapping tool that supports different formats and large quantities of data