Vesa Nykänen, Bedrock and Mineral Resources, Geological Survey of Finland
Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) is a national geoscience expert agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. With the personnel of approximately 780 and annual expenditure of 44 M€ GTK conducts its main tasks to produce and disseminate geological information to promote the controlled and sustainable use of the Earth's crust. GTK has the normal survey functions and additionally very strong exploration sector. The main map production lines are 1:100 000 scale bedrock mapping and 1:20 000 quaternary geological mapping. The low-altitude airborne multi-element geophysical survey covers >90% of the area and areal till geochemistry covers the whole country (1 sample/4 m²).
During the past four to five years there has been a semicontinuous testing period to find proper software and hardware for digital field data capture at the Geological Survey of Finland. A new GIS-based data management system will be carried out for all geological field and map data with ArcGIS 8.1 in 2000–2003. The system is based on Oracle 8i (9i) database, where both location and attribute information will be saved as nationwide themes through ArcSDE gateway. In the past the data has accumulated into numerous databases and indexed files. All existing data will be imported into the new system and a seamless connection from the field data capture to the RDBMS will be needed.
The main reasons and benefits for considering digital field data capture at GTK are the following: (1) data validation while collected, (2) reduce data transcription errors, (3) control of the quality of positioning, (4) speed of data collection, (5) faster field data distribution during and after the field season.
During the testing period GTK has tested ArcPad (www.esri.com), FieldWorker (www.fieldworker.com) and MapLT. In addition we have had demonstrations of several other software (e.g. TerraSync, OziExplorer and Fugawi).
Base requirements for the hardware depend on the projects the computers are going to be used. However, the equipments need to be rugged and reasonable priced. The batteries should last at least the whole working day and if the power runs out the data should be automatically be saved. In addition the batteries and the displays should operate around the freezing point temperatures. Some projects need map interphase but in many cases only the forms are needed. Obviously GPS connection is essential. Already there are more than 100 GPS receivers in use at the GTK. To avoid coordinate typing errors GTK has developed GIS-based solutions to import the GPS collected coordinates into the current corporate field database. This already saves a lot of time.
GTK is still at the testing stage but the decisions on the software will be made during the year 2002. The hardware is developing fast and the decisions can wait a bit longer if the software does not give the limits. Thus a platform independent solution might be a good choice. However, ESRI's ArcPad is still the strongest candidate due to its seamless connection to the database to be used. The disadvantages of ArcPad are the high costs and relatively poor (or absent) support for hierarchical pick-up lists, which are the strengths of FieldWorker. On the other hand FieldWorker can only be used as data collecting software since it does not support raster maps. The forms in FieldWorker, however, would fill most of GTK's needs. A new product, MapLT, is worth having a closer look, since it would provide more or less a platform independent solution. It is also low cost, but on the other hand requires a lot of customising i.e. is a laborious option, which could make the total costs high. The customisation of the projects is coded by using VBScript for ArcPad and Java for MapLT and FieldWorker. This needs also to be taken into consideration while making decisions.