How Cartographer Works

Workspaces and users

The Cartographer platform is split into workspaces, each run by a company or person called a workspace operator. A workspace contains all the tools the operator requires to collect all of their monitoring data: a set of online survey forms, a set of maps, and a set of user permissions saying who has access to what.

For example, Springfield Wildlife Trust may have a workspace containing tools for collecting data on litter and species in their local area. Their volunteers would access this workspace on Cartographer to submit sightings and browse the data collected so far. Meanwhile, Shelbyville Rivers Trust may have a separate workspace collecting water quality and litter data. The workspaces are separate and neither organisation has access to each others’ data (well kind of… see Sharing data below).

Users on Cartographer have a single user account that spans the whole platform. A user account can potentially have access to many workspaces, in which case they access one workspace at a time and can switch between them by choosing Change workspace toward the bottom the left-hand menu:

Surveys and maps

Each workspaces contains a set of tools that its operator uses to collect different kinds of monitoring data. The most important concepts for understanding these tools are surveys and maps:

Surveys are online forms that capture data. A workspace may contain a single form, or multiple forms for collecting different kinds of data. Each survey has its own page in the left-hand sidebar that lists the data collected so far:

Maps are separate pages that display data. If surveys represent the inputs into Cartographer, maps represent the outputs. Every time a survey is created or updated, Cartographer works behind the scenes to keep its maps up-to-date with the latest data.

The relationship between surveys and maps is typically straightforward. There is typically one map layer for each type of survey, and maps typically contain on feature (data point) for each survey in the dataset:

However, Cartographer’s map engine is very flexible and things can easily get complex. Some surveys produce outputs on more than one map. Some maps correlate data from multiple surveys. Some maps cluster surveys or prevent derived data not present on the survey form. The details vary from survey to survey and map to map and everything is automatic — you don’t need to know how everything works to benefit from the results.

Who has access to what?

The answer to this question workspace varies from workspace to workspace depending on the needs of the operator. In general, however, maps tend to be visible to all users within a workspace, but access to surveys is configured on a per-user database.

If you know your workspace is collecting a particular type of data but you don’t see the relevant surveys or maps on your side-bar, the chances are you haven’t been given permission to view them. Simply ask a project officer in your organization to grant you access and you should be up and running in no time.