Harness the Power of Epicollect5 + Google Maps

We started to collect GPS locations for specific findings using Epicollect5 about a year ago. Now what? In a previous blog we discussed distance measuring using tape and compass measurements and GPS locations. This method exceeds that technology by light years.

A general map plot of all of our findings is available on the Epicollect5 data site. If you want to see something specific you can make a custom map to see where all of our areas of special interest are located using Google Maps! Even though the project is public you must create a login to access the epicollect5 site to download data. Go to Epicollect5 and log-in.

Epicollect5-Everglades Ark, generic map of the SWFL observation sites. Dots show what is in the area.

In Epicollect5 the data comes in two forms. The first is the data Table. The second is a Map of all of the sightings. You can see it by clicking on the word map located in the upper right side of the site banner. The third is a data file available through Download. If you want to map a specific set of data you can do this by some manipulation of the data. You will use two types of software. Use Excel for data manipulation and Google Maps for custom mapping. You must have a Google identity. Follow these steps:


Selected screenshot from Everglades Ark data base on epicollect5
  • In your web browser search for Epicollect5
  • On its home page upper right of the navigation banner click on FIND
  • Enter the name Everglades Ark the query box
  • When the image of the site appears click on VIEW DATA on the right side
  • View data opens the data page the Epicollect5 for the Everglades Ark
  • In the left of the view data navigation banner click on Survey and Catalogue
  • The table of the collection will appear
  • On the right side of the navigation bar there are three choices click on Download
  • A new drop down menu will open on the left side with several selections
  • Select EC_Auto, Select your Timeframe, Select CSV. CSV (comma delimited) works well for Excel.
  • Click on Download. The entire file will appear in your downloaded files folder.
  • Once downloaded you will find several data sets in the folder. These folders contain the sets named in the headings of the Epicollect5 folders
  • Click on the data set appropriate for your interest
  • To use the data, select Open the download with the Microsoft Excel. Your manipulation of the Excel date does not effect the Epicollect master data file.


Screen shot of Excel file. For the non Excel users it looks intimidating but it is not.
  • In Excel open file called “1-survey_and_catalogue.cvs”
  • Sort the desired new data sets for the selected criteria. Be sure to lock the appropriate fields. For mapping, always include the GPS columns and any mix of data columns to match your interest criteria.
  • Make a new Excel file with an appropriate title (like December flowering plants.cvs) and paste the data into a new sheet.
  • Save this to your computer desktop as a .cvs file


This example of a simple map has bright red markers to show locations of observed flowering trees from 10- 2021 to 1-2022

The goal is to plot a specific selection of the data for characterization of a set of the collection. For this we can use google maps through their portal at: Visualize your data on a custom map using Google My Maps

  • Log in to your Google account
  • Go to Google My Maps: https://www.google.com/mymaps
  • In the welcome pop-up, select Create a new map:
  • In the text Untitled map, edit the map title and description in the Map title dialog box:
  • In the Description dialog box enter a description of your map
  • In the menu, select Import:
  • Select your saved data sheet from your desktop. This will be the first data layer we upload. Drag and drop your GPS data file on your desk top to the Import Your Data into Google Earth. Following the instructions at Visualize your data on a custom map using Google My Maps. After uploading your data, you’ll be asked to select the column(s) with location information, so that your data will be correctly placed on the map (e.g. columns with latitude and longitude information). For this example, select the Lat and _ Long columns_, and hit Continue. You can hover over the question marks to see sample data from that column.
  • Pick the column you’d like to use to title your markers. For this example, select the Date column and click Finish:


The Google map function is very versatile and very powerful. You can enter multiple layers of data on the same map. The maps can be enhanced with colors, icons, add titles, search for types, collaborate with colleagues, all available in the instructions on the GoogleMap instruction site. For example on one map you could overlay flowering undergrowth plants, blooming in the month of February, where observations of Monarch butterflies were recorded. Different symbols and colors could be used to separate the two types of data for easier visualization. You can measure distances, map directions, chart changes in observation patterns, estimate rate of spread of changing conditions… it is almost endless!

It is just that easy ! Try it out using the technique described. You will be amazed !



Visualize your data on a custom map using Google My Maps


Please send comments and let us know what you discover.

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#Google #map #excel #database #create map #custom map #GPS

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