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How to Overcome GPS Acquisition Challenges to Maximize Sprout Services

By Tiffany Nyawara, Sprout Web Designer

Need Farmer GPS Coordinates? Here are Strategies to Overcome GPS Acquisition Challenges


Are you a farmer-facing organization in need of weather forecasts but are not sure how to gather farmer coordinates? Agricultural organizations have made significant strides in the realm of data-driven farming, utilizing technology to enhance crop yields and minimize environmental impact. One crucial aspect of this technological evolution is the use of GPS coordinates to generate precise forecasts and optimize farming practices.


However, the acquisition of GPS coordinates for this purpose is not without its challenges. In this blog post, we will explore some of the problems that agricultural organizations may encounter when attempting to gather GPS data for forecasting and offer some potential solutions for short term acquisition of GPS coordinates for your farming community. .


Typical Challenges in GPS Coordinate Acquisition


Limited Infrastructure and Connectivity: In rural areas, obtaining GPS coordinates is hindered by scarce infrastructure, including cell towers, and inadequate internet connectivity, which makes collecting accurate location data difficult.


Cost Barriers: Procuring and maintaining GPS equipment is expensive, particularly for small-scale farmers and budget-limited organizations. Costs include device purchases, software implementation, data services, and field enumerator expenses.


Data Privacy and Ownership Concerns: Concerns about data privacy and ownership can deter farmers and organizations from sharing GPS data with third-party forecasting services, hindering the collection and sharing of valuable data.


Technological Literacy & Data Accuracy: Not all farmers and organizations possess the necessary technological skills to use GPS devices effectively. Complex GPS systems can lead to inaccuracies, impacting reliable forecasting and farming decisions.


Regulatory and Policy Hurdles

Different regions and countries have specific regulations governing GPS technology use in agriculture. Complying with these regulations, including data collection and sharing, can be complex and time-consuming, potentially slowing the adoption of GPS-based forecasting systems.


Cost Effective, Reasonably Accurate and Rapid Options

Group Locations: Many FFOs work with Farmer Groups in addition to individual farmers. Many of these groups are held within walking distance (<5 km) to the individual farm, often at regular markets. In most cases, the GPS of the location where the farmers meet is close enough to offer reasonably accurate location for hyperlocal weather forecasts. It would be far more accurate than the local radio station forecast. Read below for different technical ways to collect GPS coordinates for groups.


Points of Interest: There are thousands of primary schools, typically with at least 1 in every small village. Their location can be used as a proxy for the farmer's location. Collecting these and the village name can enable someone with a google map to identify the farmers nearby location.


What are different technical ways to collect GPS coordinates?

Collection using WhatsApp: Many farmer group leads have smartphones and regularly communicate this way. Did you know there is a very simple way to send a location in seconds? Just follow these instructions.

  1. Open WhatsApp: Unlock your smartphone and open the WhatsApp application.

  2. Select the Chat: Choose the individual or group chat where you want to share your location.

  3. On Android Devices:

    1. Tap the Attachment Icon: It's usually a paperclip or “+” icon located next to the text input field.

    2. Select Location: A menu will pop up with various options. Choose “Location” or “Location Sharing.”

  4. Share Your Location:

    1. WhatsApp will access your phone's GPS and provide your current location as a pin on a map.

  5. Send Your Location: After selecting the location sharing option, tap the send button (usually an arrow icon) to share your location with the chosen contact or group.

NOTE: WhatsApp will ask for permission to access your device's location services.

Make sure you grant the necessary permissions for the feature to work.


Identification using Google Maps. If you are able to collect Points of Interest, then an individual with a google map and computer collects them.

  1. Open Google Maps: Unlock your smartphone and open the Google Maps application.

  2. Search for a Location: Use the search bar at the top of the screen to enter the location where you want to identify and collect Points of interest.

  3. Explore the Map: Pinch and swipe on the map to zoom in and out and navigate to the area you want to explore. You can switch between different map views, such as “Map” or “Satellite,” to get a better understanding of the area.

  4. Collect POIs: If you want to collect and save a specific POI, you can tap on it and then tap on the “Save” or “Add to Lists” option. You can create lists for different categories to organize your points of interest.

    1. Custom Lists: You can create custom lists of POIs to categorize and save the places you've identified. To do this, go to the “Saved” tab in Google Maps, then select “Create new list.”

  5. Share and Collaborate: If you want to share your collected POIs with others or collaborate on a list, you can invite people to view and edit the list you've created.

  6. Review and Edit: You can access your collected POIs and lists in the “Saved” tab, where you can edit, add notes, and remove items as needed.

  7. Export and Share


Best Practices for GPS Data Collection

  • Explicit Consent: Always obtain user consent before collecting GPS coordinates. Clearly explain the purpose and usage of the data.

  • Transparency: Be clear about the frequency and purpose of GPS data collection to ensure user understanding.

  • Limit Data: Collect only essential GPS data and avoid unnecessary information.

  • Anonymization: Whenever possible, anonymize GPS data to protect user privacy.

  • Data Security: Securely transmit and store GPS data using encryption protocols to prevent unauthorized access.

  • Data Retention: Implement a clear data retention policy and delete data when it's no longer needed.

  • Location Accuracy: Communicate GPS data accuracy and limitations to users.

  • Education: Educate users on the benefits of sharing location data within the application.

  • Privacy Policy: Maintain a comprehensive privacy policy and make it easily accessible to users.

  • Compliance: Stay compliant with regional privacy laws and regulations.

  • User Control: Allow users to delete location data or opt out of tracking at any time.

  • Record Keeping: Keep a record of how coordinates are collected and saved with farmer records.

By adhering to these best practices, you can responsibly collect and use GPS coordinates for personalized farming services while respecting user privacy and data security.


Summary

To sum up, gathering GPS coordinates for data-driven farming is vital. Overcoming challenges like limited infrastructure and costs is crucial. Agricultural organizations can find cost-effective solutions. Keeping records of coordinate collection methods is essential for accuracy and improvement. By following best practices and respecting privacy, organizations can evolve and benefit farmers in the future.


The Sprout Team is also endeavoring to develop a simplified GPS collection system, specifically for FFOs. Stay tuned!

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