QGIS in the Field

Getting started with qField on iOS

Welcome to the first tutorial of our QGIS in the Field series! We have a number of great topics that are on their way. In the future, we’ll be creating number sliders, QR codes, pictures, autopopulating fields based on an expression, autopopulating fields based on other fields, and the list goes on. However, for now we thought it’d be most important to get you up and running with QField within an iOS environment! We’ve been using the beta for a little over a year now, so we’re ecstatic to finally spread the word about the production-ready version. Some notes before we get started:

  • Currently, the long-term release of QGIS that we’re using is 3.22.
  • The QField release we’re using is…you guessed it… the brand-spanking new version 1.0 for iOS.
  • It’s probably not necessary, but these tutorials are assuming a baseline-level of familiarity with QGIS Desktop.
  • We’ll be using QFieldCloud. While it’s not altogether necessary to use in QField, it will make your life easier. We highly recommend it.
    • Note that you can use a local server that we created, but if you’re just starting out then it will be MUCH easier to use the provided default server. We will be using the default server on this tutorial with a note about the custom-hosted server setup.
  • I will refer to the ecosystem as a whole as “the Q project.” If I say anything specifically tailored to specific component (QField or QGIS Desktop) then I’ll specify.

Our goals for today are simple. We want to first create a project with three layers in QGIS. After that, we want to push the project to QField on our phone so we can start to collect data.

Creating a Project – The Scenario

I’m a nature guy, so I’m going to be creating a plant-themed Q project. In this scenario, we’ll be creating three layers. The first is point layer called “plants” where we’ll be collecting species information. The second will be a zone polygon layer which we’ll use to gather information about an area, and the third will be a miscellaneous point layer for general note taking. The Q project will be primarily focused on the plant layer, so this is where we’ll be implementing majority of our form fields and features.

The first thing we’ll need to do for this workflow is to create a project in QGIS Desktop and save it. We’ll call ours “fieldwork_tutorial” to keep things light and generic.

Import the Layers

I’m not going to spend a lot of time here since I’m assuming anyone reading the tutorials has enough QGIS experience to make a layer. If you are unsure how to create a layer in QGIS and would like to learn, please go here. For those of you who simply want to import the layers, you can download the zipped up geopackage. Once you have it unzipped using 7-zip or similar, simple drag and drop it into the Layer panel of QGIS desktop.

Setting the Stage for QField – Project Setup & Upload

Step 1. Open QGIS

Getting Started with QField

Step 2. Install or upgrade the “QField Sync” Plugin

Getting Started with QField

Step 3. Right click the toolbar area to add the QField Sync toolbar to your project.

Getting started with QField

Step 4. If desired, add a basemap.

Almost every field worker will want a basemap of some sort. Out of my experience, most want an aerial image and some want a street map. Today we’ll keep it simple and just use an aerial image using ArcGIS’s World Imagery REST layer.

Step 5. If necessary, register for QFieldCloud. Otherwise, sign in with your existing credentials.

Step 6. Create a new project in QFieldCloud

Once the bottom-left button is clicked, a radio selector option and then a form will appear. These will prompt you to add in project details (see below). After the second screen, a message will popup saying synchronization has occurred and no further action is required.

Getting Started with QField
Getting Started with QField

Opening the Project in QField

Step 1. Open and install “QField for QGIS” in the app store.

Step 2. Log in using your existing credentials. Note that these are the same credentials created/used in Step 5 on the section above.

Step 3. Click “QFieldCloud” projects.

Step 4. Select the project that you uploaded in the previous section.

This will download the project from the cloud and place it locally on your device. Note that any basemaps (world imagery in our case) will either need to have the tiles built into the local package, or the phone will have to be on a data plan to render correctly.

Step 5. Select the project that you uploaded in the previous section.

This will download the project from the cloud and place it locally on your device. Note that any basemaps (world imagery in our case) will either need to have the tiles built into the local package, or the phone will have to be on a data plan to render correctly.

Exploring the Map in QField

That’s it! You’ve done it! Explore the map you made and make sure the layers are present. You can tap the top left hamburger icon to display your layers. To edit your layers, simply tap the pencil toggler in the top-right corner of the map menu (see below). If you have any content/tutorials within QField that you’d like us to tackle, please let us know. Cheers!

Getting Started with QField Image

Last month, Aaron had an opportunity to speak alongside Rob Krain about the Parcel-based Ecological Restoration Model (PERM) at Rally 2022. While the conference took place in New Orleans, you can still view the presentation from anywhere! The model that Rob and Aaron presented on was developed by GEOACE in partnership with Black Swamp Conservancy.

What’s the PERM FOR?

The PERM serves as a starting point when identifying land suitable for restoration across Black Swamp’s territory. In total, the model covers over 6,500 square miles in Ohio and evaluates more than 650,000 parcels in a single process. The datasets used to evaluate each parcel’s restoration potential span multiple resolutions – from a local scale all the way up to a Global scale. Each parcel is ultimately scored on a scale of 1 to 100 and added to a map. The five major categories that make up the total score are Land Cover, Agricultural Restorability, Hydrology, Connectivity, and Suitable Soils. High scores in all of these categories will then score highly in the PERM’s total score.

Rally 2022 PERM Custom Parcel Area

Customizable Land Areas

One nice thing about the PERM is its ability to score custom-created tracts of land as well. This is especially helpful in instances where multiple parcels become available for sale at the same time. In this type of circumstance, all you’d have to do is merge the parcels together and run them through the model in ArcGIS Pro. Doing this helps to gather supporting documentation and justification (or the opposite) for any purchase your organization may be looking into. So whether you’re shopping for parcels straight from the auditor or in an area of your own creation, you’ll be able to score the land relative to the rest within your operating territory.

There’s so much to talk about with the dataset. We’d love to spend some time going more into detail about the nuts and bolts behind it. If you’re interested in knowing more, you can view Aaron’s Rally 2022 presentation here. Or if you’d prefer, we’d love to take any questions you have about it. Just contact us for more info!