GMI Connection

Unique challenges require unique technology GMI Connection - Issue 10 : Article 3

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nl10-3.jpgUnique Challenges Require Unique Technology

Working in the field has unique challenges, so when GMI researches the latest technology to help Kingdom Workers in the field, we get excited when we find features that allow research to be accomplished on-the-fly and with limited connectivity. We have been investigating new mobile technology and are excited to share a few platforms that we are trying out. If utilized, these new tools have the potential to allow incredible use of the data we have already collected, and allow the data to be compared in effective ways. Below you will find information on some of our most promising candidates.


Avenza PDF Maps was awarded the 2012 Innovation in Mobile Mapping Award because of its offline map viewer and user-friendly map. The app itself is free, but the maps need to be purchased. Users could download maps from GMI's Mission InfoBank Web Site and access them offline, anywhere, on their mobile device. However because not all the maps on Mission InfoBank are geo coded, some of the GPS-enabled features of this app will not work.


Thousands of free specialty maps are available via an online store. The National Park Service offers maps for camping and hiking via this app. Even topographic maps can be used with this app. Once the maps are downloaded to the mobile device, all searching options are available offline, making this app an incredible resource. On the fun side, the app estimates travel time, distances, and areas. It also allows you to share pictures with friends and family.


One thing it does not allow is the manipulation or change of the GIS information. It is also currently only available on Apple products, but is in beta testing for Android devices. We are excited for the potential of Avenza PDF Maps as we break new technological ground.


PCmapper is a user-friendly map editing app for the Android. It also has offline capabilities, which make it an ideal candidate for GMI to investigate. We know that Internet connection is not always available when information is needed. One of the huge benefits of PCmapper is its ability to seamlessly integrate with Google Maps.


Shapefile allows you to create your own maps using GIS data. Doing this requires an Internet connection, but the maps created can be used offline. One of the significant benefits with Shapefile is its ability to stack maps on top of each other, using a different color for each one. When considering the overlap from one data set to another, this app is invaluable.


Locus Map is an outdoor GPS navigation app. It's primarily use is for downloading cycling and hiking maps for offline use. How does this make it a potential tool for GMI? Although we may not need the hiking maps, making map information available offline is key to making our maps more accessible and usable for everyone.


Locus Map uses data from many different sources and allows you to create your own maps from platforms like OpenStreetMap. The GPS function allows for searches of the surrounding area by coordinates or addresses. The best part of Locus Map is its ability to handle an unlimited number of points on a map. It then allows you to categorize, sort, edit, import, and export these points. They can be custom colors, making the entire system easier to understand.


Locus Map has full support for online voice navigation, just like a standard GPS. It can also connect with Bluetooth devices for information transfer. It has a standard weather service, integrates with other apps, notifies you when you're near interesting places, and can even help you park!


Next Steps

All these apps reveal a exciting potential tools for ministry. GMI is committed to using whatever will best advance God's purposes as He calls us to serve the Kingdom. Several of these map applications look promising and could provide us with new ways to share our maps with those that need them in remote places.


We encourage you to think about how you are going to use mobile apps in your ministry mapping and research context. After downloading some of these apps for yourself, we would love to hear any ideas you may have for ministry application so we can continue innovating together. We are excited to see where God leads us as we pursue His will!


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