13 Replies Latest reply on Dec 7, 2015 6:14 AM by jml

    NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers


      Dear all,


      first of all a big hearty hello to everyone on this forum. This is my first post, and my knowledge and especially experience with Filemaker is close to nothing. That's why I'm here!


      My name is Boris, I'm based in The Netherlands, and I train (as part of a foundation) wildlife rangers and scouts in protected areas, in developing countries. The bulk of our training and advice revolves around forensics, patrolling and spatial crime analysis, always from the viewpoint of the men and women on the ground, patrolling every day in order to protect the endangered wildlife and ecosystems.


      Our current project takes place in the Kasigau Corridor in Kenya, a very important stretch of land connecting the two Tsavo's (east and west), forming together the Tsavo ecosystem. Think rhino and elephant, which are particularly heavily poached by criminal gangs.


      We introduced spatial crime analysis as a tool to understand the factors affecting poaching in this area. The quality and quantity of the data that is collected by the patrols is key to understanding how all the individual "strands" are interwoven. For analysis we use open-source software (QGis), which has its limitations in comparison to high end GIS tools, but is available for free. IMG_9441.jpg

      So here's the problem: currently the data collection by the patrols is a time consuming, work intensive process that requires the use of both digital and analog means. Because of the amount of work to be done to even record one single bit of information, the patrols are doing less patrolling and recording less information; they filter what is important and what is not and what will justify the time that it takes to record it . Also this system puts a big strain on the analysts, who do more collecting and revising, and less analysis. This needs to improve.

      Our goal is to community-develop a tool (or set of tools) that will enable the collection of data quickly and effectively, allowing the patrol to focus on their surroundings whilst collecting more and better data. We would like to do this together with experienced Filemaker developers who are willing to donate a little of their time and experience to help us develop this tool. Ideally we would like to work together with an experienced developer who would like to act as a project manager, cutting the requirements into micro tasks that can be tackled by anyone willing to contribute, even if it is just 30 minutes for a small task.


      We are aware (and have worked with) some of the tools which are already around. One we have used is the Cybertracker tool (CyberTracker GPS Field Data Collection System - Free Download).


      We have a clear understanding of the data that needs collecting, and also of the output that is required for the analysts. We also understand the situation on the ground, and will be assisting with any questions that arise.


      Our biggest technical question (and a go-no go criteria) is this: is it possible to have a tracking function within the tool, that will allow tracking of the devices location every 30 seconds after start of the patrol? Concurrently, is it possible to isolate parts of this track by labeling them? (i.e. when the team is tracking a poacher, the route they walk is effectively a poacher route into/out of the park, therefore it needs to be isolated). Is it possible to record photo and video within the tool?


      And finally: can you help us? Any advice will be very much appreciated! If we can do this and once completed and evaluated, we will distribute the tool(s) for free. We will never own or commercialise your content or contribution. But with your permission, we would like to share your knowledge with people that do an important job and would never have access to this expertise.


      Thank you very much. Kindest regards, respectfully,

      Boris Vos


      P.S. feel free to email me directly at boris.vos@protrek.nl, or Dominique Noome, our spatial crime analyst trainer at dominique.noome@protrek.nl. You can also add me or Dominique through LinkedIn.

        • 1. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

          Hi Boris

          FMGo had functions for tracking geolocation. However, a 30 sec interval will draw heavily on the battery of the device.

          Did you consider using a standard tracker device for recording the patrol's path and a database on a mobile device for collection of evidence, where each evidence record gets its own geolocation data?  Back in the office, the path data readout is combined with the evidence data, providing a complete data set with path data and correlated evidence.



          • 2. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

            What sort of mobile devices are you using that you want to track from?


            If you are using iOS (iPhone / iPad) then it is possible to record video and audio from within Filemaker GO.  That works very well.


            Tracking every 30 seconds is possible with a big caveat... Filemaker GO has to be active on the display (unless you create an app to do background tracking and push data to a Filemaker server)

            • 3. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

              Hi Boris


              What a great project!


              To reemphasise the previous suggestions on your tracking requirement. There are many 'record my route' type apps available from the Apple App store that you may want to consider using outside of the FileMaker Go app you are considering for the data gathering. One of these should provide the route record then you can use the strengths of FileMaker Go interacting with the GPS, camera, etc. within an IOS device to record the details during the patrol. Also, don't forget the built in 'Find My iPhone' to obtain the location of a device at a specific time.



              Andy - salefaith.com

              • 4. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

                First of all, thanks for your time replying to my post!


                We are aiming at using refurbished or good second hand iPad Mini's (1st, 2nd gen). We also want to look at using an external GPS to improve the GPS function in remote areas (there's definitely no internet access at these locations, and data needs to be physically downloaded and transported twice a month).


                Torsten: I think I understand your suggestion. This would definitely work. We are very keen on trying to find a way to make the workflow for these Rangers as simple as we can, but with some of the best knowledge and tech behind it. For instance: start of the patrol would be a simple push on an icon, that will instantly start logging it's location. The more intuitive and logical, the better. Preferably though one single application.


                Carl: Yes, we are aiming at using iOS. As I don't have the background to have a good opinion on this, please allow me to ask a silly question: these external apps, can they be controlled from FM Go? So start of the patrol (button in FM), app starts recording location, and end of patrol (button) it stops, sending all info to the compiled output (which could be an excel file)?


                Andy: makes sense. Would there be any way for these two to interact? Or even just starting the external app from the FM Go menu? (I have used myTrack on my iPhone, it seems to do perfect for recording GPS data).


                Thanks again! Boris

                • 5. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

                  Finally (I forgot this) the following feature would be very important too: imagine a patrol walking in the park. They look for tracks of people that have entered the protected area illegally. They are logging their location to produce a very detailed patrol coverage map. They now find a track of two poachers and decide to follow it. The movements of the patrol whilst following the tracks are now effectively the route of these two poachers when they entered the park. This information needs to be isolated from the main track, but the main track needs to be recorded as such as well. The output should be two GPS tracks: the patrol route and the followed poacher track (which overlaps). I hope this explains it



                  • 6. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

                    Hi yes these apps can be controlled by FMGo by using iOS's "Custom URL schemes" (just google it, one app can call and pass parameters to another app this way).


                    My suggestion in your case would be to create a custom app that uploads GPS data points to FMServer through the PHP API.  I know it sounds like a daunting task but it isn't, there's plenty of example code for background location tracking for iOS on the web.  I've done some apps set to upload data every 100 meters but you can increase that precision and the background location tracking part is the easy part of the app. I may be able to throw some code your way for this but not the whole app...


                    I guess if you are using external GPS hardware then you would be using a Bluetooth GPS unit connected to the iPad?

                    • 7. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

                      From your experience, whats the expected battery lifetime of an iPhone or iPad when running frequent GPS checks in the background?

                      • 8. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

                        Hi Carl, thanks for the offer! What I am trying to achieve at this point is find us a project manager that has intimate knowledge on these things. I can show what we get as input and what we need, but as far as programming is concerned (and for all things really) I truly believe that you should let the experts be experts


                        The GPS's I'm looking at right now are the ones build by Bad Elf, they offer either bluetooth or connected.

                        • 9. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

                          In an urban environment with the accuracy set to 100m and using distance rather than time based tracking it's very good, it's only a few percent on the battery depending on how much movement is going on throughout the day.  This sort of rural tracking with no Wifi around??? Not sure.

                          * In this case the external GPS should take the load off of the iPad *

                          • 10. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers



                            Not sure. The iPad I have has no internal GPS (wifi only). The idea is to provide an external battery that will extend the use to a total of 20 hours (which is two days worth of patrolling).

                            • 11. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

                              Understand. If you cannot source an iPad with GPS included, the correlation can be done through timestamps of GPS tracker data and evidence records in the database. Accuracy is lower and can be determined by the frequency of tracker data retrieval.

                              • 12. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

                                Thanks all, for your advice so far. From your answers I have deduced the following, and please correct me if I'm wrong:


                                - In order to use GPS data every 30 seconds to track the device, there will be a need for an external GPS coordinates tracking app that compiles the information to include with the data collected through the forms. This app can be without any visuals as it is designed to only provide location data.  As I understand there are ways to control this external app through a FM menu? I will have to test how long the battery life is for this tracking application, and what is needed to keep the device going for 20-24 hours while tracking.


                                - I know about ranger patrols but I don't know even remotely enough about the development-side  so I desperately need a project manager for this. In order to get someone to take on this job I will, together with the team, compile an as accurate as possible list of functions, data and output. I will make this list, including some examples of current data, available through Evernote. This will hopefully give a more detailed understanding of what we need and a scope of what one is getting him/herself into ;-) 


                                I will try to keep this discussion open in the meantime, and update on the progress towards getting that basic infrastructure in place. If you know anyone who would be interested, please do not hesitate to contact me either through here or through email: boris.vos@protrek.nl.


                                Finally, thanks for your time, and I would like to invite you to keep in touch if you're interested in helping us out with building this thing (every support, even 15 minutes of your time and expertise, is very much appreciated! If you want an invitation for the Evernote space please send me an email.


                                (By the way, please keep your advice or ideas coming. If I don't answer I'm either asleep or out of wifi, which happens quite a lot. But I will check back in and answer any posts!)



                                • 13. Re: NEEDED | Advice from experienced developers

                                  That would be my choice for your needs too.  Since its tracks can be marked and uploaded afterward, it may be all you need


                                  Bad Elf GPS Pro