Solving the Weed Crisis with iFormBuilder ArcGIS

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) exists to support the viability and vitality of agriculture in Washington state while protecting consumers, public health and the environment through service, regulation and advocacy.

In 2016, the WSDA set out to raise the quality level of data collected in the field and overall process for tracking over 150 invasive, noxious weeds within 38 counties across the state. The data is tracked and stored to monitor changes, allocate resources and more. Put simply: it’s incredibly important.

It’s existing process varied from one county to another, depending on GIS capabilities, budgets… ranging from hand-drawn maps and noted surveys, to more digitized formats, each of which required work by GIS specialists at the state level to create a level of consistency. The process naturally led to higher levels of inconsistencies, errors and delays than the WSDA wanted to see.

The Process Overview

After testing 10 different potential solutions, the WSDA moved to iFormBuilder as an attempt to move to something more efficient than a Blackberry and Garmin GPS-centric system.

The solution allowed their team to create standardized forms for all involved cooperators while removing the need for end-of-season formatting and digitizing. Because data was submitted in real time, delays were eliminated and questions required for clarification could be asked right away, allowing for more accurate recall and responses.

After collection, data was automatically sent to a single feature service in ArcGIS online, which allowed for real-time mapping and immediate action when necessary.

Other obvious benefits included:

  • Less down-time for end users.
  • Elimination of file/data management for county cooperators due to data accessibility.
  • The ability to download Excel spreadsheets for cooperators as requested.

An unexpected benefit? Users were excited, rather than hesitant to implement a new, improved solution. This led to increased rapid adoption rates that could not have been predicted.

The New Process in Action

The primary functions of the app are:

1. Tracking patients to ensure they attend upcoming HIV care and treatment appointments.
2. Finding patients who have stopped attending appointments while bringing them back into care or removing them from records.
3. Monitoring patient viral load numbers to assist DFZ achieve nationally set targets.

Today, internal surveyors and external county cooperators gather and manage data on iPhones and iPads, which is sent to a custom database on the iFormBuilder website. After an initial review (with near 100% for data reliability), the WSDA utilizes the iFormBuilder ArcGIS connector tool to automate the passing of data from multiple mobile forms to one feature service housed in the team’s ArcGIS Online account.

Data is then filtered as needed by either county or cooperator, using view layers to customize maps and views as necessary for efficient analyzation.

Instant Value Added

Because the WSDA team now collects and receives correct data — including some data that was difficult to obtain prior to the project — without backend data cleanup and manual manipulation, data review is easier than ever before, and the team has recognized value from the start.

By the Numbers

Today, the WSDA has a 100 user, 12-month base license, which is extended to around 275 users during peak usage. The solution is utilized by around 50–75 users on an ongoing basis. The WSDA describes iFormBuilder as fairly priced, with tremendous support including in-depth online help documentation with easy integration for the ArcGIS platform and a simple and intuitive app and website.