Last month, FEMA Blue 1 attended a 2013 Joint Interagency Field Exercise (JIFX) hosted by the Naval Postgraduate School in Camp Roberts, California. NPS conducts a biannual RELIEF conference that fosters innovation and cooperation toward disaster response and is attended by representatives from academia; private industry; state, local, and federal government; non-profits; and international organizations.
Blue 1’s mission was to help FEMA conduct experiments designed to evaluate several aspects of the disaster assistance process. We spent our days comparing the flexibility and functionality of iPads, Samsung and Nexus tablets, and various disaster applications in mock field exercises. Throughout the week, we worked closely with Spatial Networks’ Tony Quartararo and Coleman McCormick and their application, Fulcrum.read full post >>
Having recently used Fulcrum to map over 15,000 potential new customers of the water utility in Liberia’s capital Monrovia, the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program is now using the collected data to help connect more people to safe drinking water, and is working on using Fulcrum to improve the customer database of the Liberia Water and Sewerage Corporation (LWSC).
After ten years of fragile peace that followed a destructive two-decade civil war, Monrovia’s water infrastructure is still struggling to recover. The water service provider LWSC currently supplies only 9,000 connections – less than half the pre-war level of the 1980s and only about 5% of all households in Monrovia.
The remaining 95% of city dwellers have no running water and rely on open wells, hand-pumps, public standpipes and tankers. This is not only arduous for those who have to carry water every day (often children), but also a major health risk as recent studies have shown a contamination of the vast majority of tested wells in the city with dangerous E. coli bacteria. Improvements are on the way, however: in 2013 new pumps financed by the World Bank were installed at the main water treatment and pumping station, which have greatly increased the ability of the utility to deliver clean water to the city.read full post >>
A couple of months back, we added a feature to the Fulcrum platform that allows you to generate reports from records captured in the field. Using your custom apps created with the Fulcrum app designer in your web account, after collecting data in the field, you can generate a PDF-based report from a record right from the mobile device. Reports can be emailed or printed right on the spot, on the go, whether they’re inspections, asset reports, or door-to-door questionnaire survey results.
Adding a signature field to your app also can give you the ability to print signatures on printable documents of your data. For applications like proofs of delivery, building inspections, or other use cases requiring signature verification, the ability to accept digital signatures right on the mobile app is a powerful way to streamline field data processes and reduce the need for paper even further.
In this video, using a custom Roof Inspection form I set up, I’ve captured a resident signature, and can generate a printable PDF report in real time.read full post >>
We recently rolled out several major enhancements to the data view on the web. Among the enhancements are a new table view, a split table/map view, and a new record editing interface. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about improving quality assurance (QA) workflows on the web, and this is the first major step to help you understand, verify, and correct your data as it’s being collected.
One of the biggest enhancements is the addition of a new table view. This is a powerful QA tool that allows you to see many records at once to find inconsistencies without needing to drill into each record individually. You can also right click on an row to get a menu of actions to perform for a specific record. Double clicking on a row quickly opens the record into the new record editing interface. The table will even display image thumbnails inline for both photo fields and signature fields. We spent a lot of time making sure the table view works well even with thousands of records and extensive forms. This is a major step forward for doing QA and we will be working hard to make it even better.read full post >>
The objective of RELIEF is to bring together people from industry, government, and academic institutions to field test hardware, software, and ideas to experiment with interoperability needs for disaster relief requirements. For last week’s RELIEF 13-3 event, the focus was on the needs of FEMA and DHS as the anchor point for collaboration on improving:
- DRC (disaster recovery center) operations - making the assistance experience for affected people more “survivor-centric”
- Mobile operations - field work conducted by DSATs (disaster survivor assistance teams), direct interaction with affected communities
- Network, data, material management - covering hardware and connectivity, such as mobile networking
- Structure and process - advancing the workflows for information capture and management
With Fulcrum, we actively participated and collaborated on all levels, primarily on mobile and DRC operations. Data collection is an instrumental component of FEMA’s entire process, from initial triage of disaster damage all the way through to survivor registration and relief distribution.read full post >>
Fulcrum has enjoyed considerable growth in the past six months and we’re excited about that, considering that we are just getting started and many more innovative features are on the roadmap for 2013 and beyond. What we didn’t anticipate or predict a year ago was the growth of our international user base, especially on the Android OS. A large majority of our current user base resides outside of the United States and English is not their first or even second language, and in some cases, English is not spoken or understood at all. We recognized this at the outset when we started building fulcrum in the cloud for a global audience, we needed to enable any language on any device, based on user-driven requirements and we needed to make it simple, elegant and effective.
We continue to work through many underlying engineering issues to improve the multi-lingual capabilities in fulcrum, but the ability to design, deploy and use fulcrum apps in any language is a reality today. Here’s a short example of how to achieve this under the current architecture. As we improve these capabilities, we’ll update the FAQ and support documentation.
First, we’ll build the app in English as we would want it, including all conditional fields, choice lists, classification sets, visibility and requirement rules. This is a simple illustration showing two sections of a commercial building survey app we’ve built for commercial customers. I’ve shown choice fields with complex visibility rules in the following graphics to provide an example of the versatility of using different languages throughout the app design and implementation.read full post >>
The offline capabilities, efficient team collaboration, and flexibility of Fulcrum can be easily leveraged for Hurricane preparation, response, and relief efforts. Hurricane preparation requires plenty of data collection, and Fulcrum is a great, cost efficient alternative to other GPS equipment. Just as the Uganda Red Cross deployed Fulcrum to take surveys for disaster preparation, Fulcrum can easily be used for similar, hurricane specific preparation surveys. In addition, Fulcrum can be used for collecting infrastructure information, documenting homes for insurance purposes before a storm, shelter assessment, and so much more.read full post >>
Humanitarian aid and assistance agencies are working all over the world to help developing nations prepare for and respond to disasters. We are proud to share that Fulcrum is actively being used by such organizations.
Recently, the Ugandan Red Cross Society has been hard at work in eastern Uganda conducting field surveys to get a better understanding of civil readiness in the event of a disaster. In Uganda, Fulcrum was brought in as a data collection and mapping toolset, and a group of volunteers was trained to use it. This team administered baseline surveys in order to catalog the current situation on the ground. The volunteers, using Fulcrum on Android devices, traveled through villages in eastern Uganda, interviewing heads of household. The group used rigorous surveying methodologies to measure levels of disaster preparedness. These volunteers had no prior experience with data collection, but after some training, were able to efficiently utilize the application to collect data.read full post >>
When we first released Fulcrum for Android nearly a year ago, we had no idea that it would quickly become the primary platform for our users. It became clear that our Android client needed to be the best it could in order to enable our users to collect data easily and efficiently. Since its initial debut on July 31st of 2012, we have released 32 updates to the client, adding new features and increasing performance and stability. Today marks a big milestone in that trend.
Introducing Version 2.0
The first thing you may notice in our latest release is that the colors look a little different. In an attempt to unify the Fulcrum experience across all platforms, the Android client has been redesigned to match our new web experience. Additionally, the workflow has been improved to make it easier to collect data across forms and projects.
Selecting an App
Previously, you would select which app to use from the initial list of apps when Fulcrum launched. We have merged the two steps into one, making a more responsive and flexible experience.
Simply tap the current app name in the top left corner to get a drop down of all the apps available on the local device. Select a new app and you’re ready to go.read full post >>
Fulcrum is an extremely powerful tool for mobile data collection, especially since you do not need to have any knowledge of or experience with GIS or data collection to be able to effectively use it. It is very easy to learn how to use Fulcrum, but with the limitless customization possibilities, we understand it may be overwhelming for a new user. We advise everyone, especially new users, to check out the new user walkthrough and manual. In the mean time, here are a few quick tips and tricks.
1. Think about the presentation of the app
Especially if you are building an app that field surveyors or inspectors will be using, you will want to be sure that the app you create is well organized, streamlined, and that directions are included so that others understand exactly what needs to be done. Using many of the elements mentioned below will help insure that your app is formatted efficiently. Organized, well thought out apps bring in the most complete data.
2. Incorporate sections to control the mobile workflow
Sections are essential for creating a well organized app, especially when the app is going to be extensive. Just as data fields are grouped into relevant sections on any paper form, your Fulcrum fields should be grouped into sections. Breaking your app into sections limits the scrolling a surveyor will have to do on the mobile device, especially when using drill-down sections, the data collector will only have to focus on one section at a time.read full post >>