A whale observation being recorded at sea
Credit: Dan Engelhaupt. All photos taken under permit to Dan Engelhaupt 14450.


A Survey Toolkit for Marine Mammal Visual Observations

COMPASS was created in order to provide robust data collection and reporting capability for the U.S. Navy’s regulatory requirements for biological surveys and monitoring associated with training and testing activities. Using the U.S. Navy Marine Species Monitoring (MSM) program’s data standard as its template, the lifecycle of the relational data is streamlined to maximize efficiency and consistency among surveys and between projects. The toolkit is comprised of two main components; a web application (app) for survey management and a mobile app for data collection in the field.

ESRI ArcGIStm Software Development Kit was used for the primary development and to construct the mobile app for use on Apple® iPads. ESRI ArcGIStm has become the industry standard for geospatial products and the intuitive interface with a high-resolution map-based field application is user friendly with familiar gestures and features. Researchers have the ability to control the data displays, customize the data fields, and add map layers for significant features in their study areas.

The web-based component is the central interface for the management of marine species surveys and data. It allows access from any Internet-connected computer, allowing field crews, researchers, and project managers from multiple locations to collaborate on active surveys. The toolkit is customizable for aerial, vessel, and shoreline theodolite surveys. All data is synchronized wirelessly via secure connection with an enterprise geodatabase server for data integrity and to facilitate remote access for survey management, to complete quality control checks of the data, generate summary reports, and prepare data deliverables. The integrated workflow has successfully streamlined MSM marine species surveys and enhanced collaboration.


This project is co-funded by U.S. Fleet Forces Command and the U.S. Navy’s Living Marine Resources Program, and managed by Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic as part of the U.S. Navy’s marine species monitoring program.

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