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Geographic Information Systems at Yale: Collecting Field Data

Geographic Information Systems at Yale University encompasses a range of spatial applications and services. GIS is used by many disciplines at Yale University.

GIS Inquiries

For assistance with GIS data or software, please contact the GIS team at

For more complex questions, we encourage you to schedule a GIS consultation.

GPS versus mobile devices

Esri Collector App

Planning to conduct field work? There are several options to collect data on the field. Planning with all considerations before embarking on the actual data collection is highly recommended.

GPS and mapping Lat/Long data
If you plan to collect data points and map them without collecting additional data such as height, condition, etc. this option will allow you to obtain the longitude (X) and latitude (Y) for each location you want to record on the field. XY Data can be easily mapped with GIS (both desktop and online).

Collector with a mobile device
The Esri Collector App is a free app available for Android or iOS. It allows you to use customized layers of data to enter data points that may include several fields (variables) to complete through free text or drop-down options, including adding pictures to each record. You can download this app on your personal device or talk to the Information Desk at the Marx Science and Social Science Library about borrowing a device. You have to have location services available and turned on to be able to collect data.

To login into Collector using your Enterprise Yale ArcGIS Online account, follow the instructions in our FAQs. 

This option is also a great tool when you want to engage a group in collaborative citizen science (crowdsourcing)* and create a collective map.
* Learn about it in the book "Crowdsourcing Geographic Knowledge: Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in Theory and Practice" by Daniel Sui, Sarah Elwood, and Michael Goodchild.

You will need to have an ArcGIS Online account to be able to access maps using Collector. If you do not have an account, please request one.

In the Collector App, login through ArcGIS Online using your Yale Maps username and password. You will only see the maps that you directly have access to. If you are using maps created by someone else and you don't see them in your list, contact them and make sure that they have given you access. If you need to make your own maps you can use the directions provided in the tutorials below.

You will need to use ArcGIS Desktop to create the feature class to share as map service for collecting data. ArcGIS Desktop software is available for free to anyone in the Yale community. You can download it from the Yale ITS Software Library (see below). ArcMap can only be installed on computers that have Windows, so if you do not have Windows or don't want to install the software, you can use ArcMap on any of the library computers on campus. Alternate options for Mac users are outline here.