Connect even when you're not connected

We tend to concentrate on the flashy, “blingy” functions within our applications, but there are some pretty darn cool functions that tend to not rise to the top of the pack. We just delivered a solution for one such function; the ability to export a project’s shapefile from our PerformaceAtlas web application to a handheld GPS device.
Our client, Dawson Geophysical, needed a way for their agents to have access to their projects while out in the field. They generally have limited internet access, so we needed to provide them with a way to download the information that they need onto a device before heading into the field. After some research, the Dawson team settled on DeLorme GPS devices.

To back up a little, we had previously created a version of our PerformanceAtlas  for the folks at Dawson in order to track their many projects. The typical user would login to the site using their web browser, and, based upon their role, would be presented with a list of projects. From here, they could do a variety of things, from checking the current status of a project to looking at the physical boundaries of a project. It’s proved to be a very useful tool that meets almost everyone’s needs.

Almost everyone.

The folks that are not served well by the flashy, web-based application are the field agents who don’t always have a reliable internet connection. They just need information on their immediately relevant project. The solution that we delivered allows these users to pull up the projects that they are directly involved with on the PerformanceAtlas (this would be done on a web browser when they have an internet connection), then export the shapefile to their GPS device. That way, they have all the information that they need when they head out into the field where there may not be any internet connectivity. The GPS device places them in the middle of their project and aids them in finding features that are essential to them in order to get their job done.

This may not be the most “flashy” function and and it may not make it into the glossy, one-page marketing material for our PerformanceAtlas, but it’s a function without which many users would be hard-put to complete their work.