Using Disconnected Devices for Inventory Collection

The City of Lake Forest, IL Public Works Department will be collecting residential b-box locations throughout the city. B-boxes are used to shut off water to a desired location. This inventory will assist Inspectors and Contractors with quickly locating the water shut off devices. B-boxes can be buried or covered by landscaping which results in will city staff exhausting time locating the b-boxes. Performing these locates will expedite work flows greatly. The b-box inventory will performed using ESRI’s mobile application, Collector.


With the use of the free Collector application, staff can perform locates using just a tablet or smartphone. This method eliminates the need for using a laptop to conduct this inventory. Using Collector, users create a point at a desired location, define attributes associated to that point, and capture a related photo. The captured b-box locations are then extracted from the tablet or phone onto staff workstations. The Collector application also has the ability to collect data without an internet or cellular connection. The inventory project is set-up while a device is connected, data collection occurs while disconnected, and data is then synchronized when a connection has been reestablished. The disconnected functionality elevates the need to have a cellular connection on a device. Poor reception quality is also no longer an issue.

The above process can be replicated to field capture any location inventory. Utilizing a tablet or smartphone is a more convenient platform for use in the field. The intuitive functionality of the mobile application reduces training time compared to advanced GIS software. The ability to capture the inventory without requiring desktop GIS software saves money in licensing fees and provides the city with the flexibility to replicate the process for collecting other asset information in the future.