I had a job working in northeastern Nevada (Elko District) collecting vegetation data for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This work involved traveling to remote areas of the desert, visiting areas that had recently been burned from wildfires, and looking at how vegetation was recovering and what species were recovering. There were two main goals for doing this:

  1. Collect data on whether or not the terrain was stable (possibility of mudslides due to lack of vegetation).
  2. Determine if cattle could be allowed to feed in the area.

My team and I would travel to pre-determined plots and conduct different density frame and line transects to obtain this data. It was extremely paperwork heavy. We would collect a minimum of about 10 pages of paper information per plot. These paper forms all went in a folder in our truck.

About three quarters of the way through the season, the BLM asked us to turn in our data so far. We brought in our folder and were horrified to discover hundreds of pages of data in no particular order. More so, one of our field techs had been forgoing writing the plot names on his sheets, which meant we had to match them to plots using dates and other pertinent information. The entire next 2 days were used up reorganizing data, and at the end we found that data from three plots up in the mountains (that had required a 3-mile hike to get to) were lost. We were told we had to go back out there and collect the data again.

Now I use Adesso, a tool for building mobile data collection apps, and I wonder how I ever conducted field events like this without it. Not only would it have saved us having to spend time reorganizing our data and having to travel back out to recollect lost data, but someone had to spend time looking through those hundreds of pages and entering everything into an online database – likely months of work that could all have been done with a simple click on a synchronize button.

Written by:
Chris Hollinger
Terraine, Inc.