Evaluation of Tablet PCs for Invasive Plant Species Monitoring
Rey Farve, Project Leader
The proposal was submitted by Lisa VanAmburg of the Rio Grande National Forest.
The objective of this proposal was to evaluate appropriate Tablet PCs (Personal Computers) to assist Range Management Specialist in inventorying and monitoring invasive plant species. The proposer was especially interested in a Tablet PC that could replace the office PC.
There is a need among some invasive plant species monitors to be able to collect field data and be able to seamlessly download that data into the corporate databases (NRIS and FACTS) - without the limitations of a PDR. A rugidized Tablet PC would eliminate the inefficiencies inherent with collecting data on paper (e.g., lost data, incorrect transfer of data, etc...) and avoid the inherent shortcomings/disadvantages of using Portable Data Recorders (PDRs) (e.g., small screen sizes, problems with syncing, turnover of platforms).
Below, the left side of the illustration shows the typical, current data collection cycle for the Rio Grande (and probably many) National Forests. Field crews that prefer not to use PDRs collect invasive species data on note paper. The data is entered into a spreadsheet on the office PC when the crew gets in from the field. In some cases the corporate database (e.g., NRIS or FACTs) is populated and sometimes not.
The proposal submitted requested an evaluation be performed to document the feasibility of using a Tablet PC to collect data from the field and, when brought back to the office, to function like the office PC. The Tablet PC (especially a ruggidized Tablet) could be uploaded with the appropiate corporate databases, taken to the field to record data, and then simply plugged back into the office so that corporate database could be easily populated.
Tablet PCs, however, currently do not have the Forest Service image and can not currently supplant the Forest Service office PC (See more discussion in Investigation.)
Current data collection cycle (top) and preferred (bottom)