Creating and Updating Park Maps

From showing visitors the way to inventorying structures, park maps serve many purposes for both visitors and staff. However, creating and maintaining park maps require field data collection and spatial data management. Global Mapper, and its accompanying mobile application, can help park staff collect data, maintain a spatial inventory, analyze terrain, and disseminate information to users with a map or free downloadable interactive data.

Global Mapper and Global Mapper Mobile (GMM) are easy to use by both GIS professionals and those who are just getting their geospatial toes wet. With clear icons, a wealth of YouTube tutorials, and searchable online documentation, Global Mapper is often complimented as an intuitive and straightforward software.

The mobile application can be used to collect data with or without an external GPS unit and to bring existing data out into the field.

Global Mapper Mobile

Global Mapper Mobile (GMM) is an iOS and Android application that lets users take a slice of Global Mapper’s extensive processing and data management powers into the field for reference and data collection.

The free, standard version lets users map and save data in the field using the device’s location services. To connect to an external GNSS unit, users can update to the Pro version for an annual subscription. Along with GPS compatibility, the Pro version boasts the ability to create Viewsheds from elevation data, measure Terrain Volume, connect to Online Data sources, and more.

Data collection

Data collection is easily done with Global Mapper Mobile. First, open the desktop application and create a template. This template will let you specify what type of attributes are to be collected and helps with standardization across time and multiple collectors. New attributes can, of course, be added in the field as well. Alongside the templates, you can also send existing GIS data out into the field. These can be vector features or even base maps. More information on creating templates can be found in this blog: Creating and Using a Feature Template in Global Mapper.

Adding a base map in the desktop or mobile application is as easy as navigating to your study area in the map viewer, opening the Online Data tool, choosing a data source, and clicking Connect. Data will load to fit within your visible bounds. The base map can be saved as part of the dataset and sent out to mobile data collectors as well. Use the multiple views to digitize new data from the images or create contours from the elevation data.

To transfer the data to a device, use the Mobile Data Management tool in Global Mapper to create a Global Mapper Mobile Package file. This file can be wirelessly transferred to a nearby mobile device, or saved and transferred via email or a shared drive.

Once loaded into Global Mapper Mobile with the Pro edition licensed, the Advanced GPS tools can be used to connect an external GPS device for higher accuracy data collection. Along with the standard points, lines, and areas, you can also collect images and display them as point features or record, play, and save voice memos in the field.

For more information on how to create data and use it in Global Mapper Mobile, take a peek at this blog: Taking GIS Data into the Field with Global Mapper Mobile

Bringing Mobile Data Back to the Desktop

What happens if multiple users are sent into the field to update the same dataset? The mobile Data management tool lets you combine collected data with existing files and provides manual control over which files and updates are to be kept. When the files are loaded, a full list of all layers contained in the datasets will be displayed. Each layer can be expanded to see specific changes. With this tool, you can look at every aspect of the features, from the layer name down to individual vertices, depending on the detail needed to manage your data.More information on the Mobile Data management tool can be found in this blog: Data Sharing between Global Mapper Desktop and Global Mapper Mobile.

The Mobile Data Management tool gives you the ability to merge mobile data on import.

Sharing Data with Park Visitors

Public data accessibility is important to help users make the most of the parks. With Global Mapper, this can be done with 2D maps or with virtual, interactive maps.

One way Global Mapper users disseminate data to park visitors is by posting a QR code at the beginning of each trail that directs visitors to download two things: the free Global Mapper Mobile (GMM) app, and a GMM package file. Once loaded in the app, this package file will give visitors access to an interactive map with your data. They can see their location on a trail, click on points to read more about them, and load base maps to visualize the terrain. This file can include text information, of course, but also pictures and voice memos – all to enhance the park experience.

For example, users can click on a trail to see the max slope, trail length, total elevation, and other attributes. In a traditional 2D map, this information would have to be displayed separately and would be limited by space.

Visitors who download the app can see the data you have loaded, and you can link it to a website with more information. Also, attributes can be added to features. For example, trail slope and elevation gain can be calculated in Global Mapper by selecting the line feature, right-clicking in the workspace, and navigating to Analysis/Measurement > Add/Update the measure attribute of selected features. This operation will populate the attribute table with multiple slope stats – and the elevation gain and loss. Once the data has been downloaded, the app will function even when the visitor hikes into areas with no cell service. Global Mapper mobile’s free app allows you to send visitors a live, dynamic map that carries information more efficiently than 2D maps.

Of course, traditional maps can also be created and printed using the Map Layout Editor. For more information on editing maps, see this blog on Creating Maps for Outdoor Recreation in Global Mapper.


Want to try Global Mapper? Sign up for a 14-day free trial. You can also request a demo from one of our experts to see this workflow or other Global Mapper processing abilities.

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