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Fulcrum for City Government Data Collection

March 26, 2012

During my tenure as an intern within a local government entity, I was engaged in numerous Geographic Information System (GIS) tasks, laying the groundwork for my appreciation of efficient government data collection tools. Reflecting on this experience, I recognize the potential impact of a platform like Fulcrum for municipal operations, particularly for enhancing projects akin to those I contributed to. Fulcrum stands out as a transformative tool, streamlining the entirety of data gathering processes while also being more cost-effective compared to traditional GPS equipment.

My responsibilities included the collection of fire hydrant data utilizing a handheld Trimble unit—a task that highlighted the limitations of existing government data collection methods. The lack of dedicated GPS collection equipment in my department meant that we had to borrow the Trimble unit from another campus. The learning curve was steep, exacerbated by the absence of familiarity with the equipment among my supervisors, necessitating training from a utilities worker. Although the Trimble device was functional, it lacked user-friendliness, especially when it came to creating data forms directly on the device, a task far more efficiently handled by Fulcrum’s computer-friendly interface.

Fulcrum offers a more intuitive and simplified field data collection experience, eliminating the need for carrying specialized laptops or grappling with complex software for data export and preparation—a stark contrast to the cumbersome process associated with using the Trimble unit and its accompanying software for ArcMap integration.

Furthermore, my involvement in the preliminary stages of a historic building survey project underscored Fulcrum’s advantages. The process of using ArcCatalog to create survey forms was cumbersome and inflexible, making the prospect of carrying a laptop for field data entry, alongside separate GPS point collection, seem daunting. Fulcrum’s ability to integrate survey data collection with photo documentation in real-time presents a streamlined, efficient alternative, especially beneficial for surveys of historic buildings.

The widespread adoption of smartphones across the office, with a preference for Android devices among most employees, points to the necessity of making tools like Fulcrum accessible on various platforms. The imminent Android release of Fulcrum signifies a pivotal move towards democratizing data collection within municipal departments. By leveraging Fulcrum, local government employees can autonomously gather necessary data without relying on external GIS departments, interns, or third-party firms. This shift not only empowers individual departments but also fosters a more self-sufficient, efficient approach to government data collection.