Field Tools

The California Earthquake Clearinghouse has been investigating various mobile and online tools that can help in data collection after an earthquake. The Clearinghouse is using SpotOnResponse as the primary situational awareness and data viewer tool. Anyone can view unrestricted data that has come into the Clearinghouse via this tool—see map at (SpotOnResponse works in conjunction with WebEOC and XchangeCore, a data-sharing middleware that many of the CA state agencies involved in earthquake response are adopting).

Users who are logged in to SpotOnResponse can directly enter data (observations) as well as view other observations, locations of other investigators, and additional layers of information coming from Clearinghouse partners. Once a user is logged in, he/she can use the Clearinghouse Field Notes to answer basic questions about earthquake impacts in several disciplinary areas (including earth sciences, structural engineering and lifelines). A short tutorial on using SpotOnResponse can be found directly below the map at:

The Clearinghouse is testing the functionality of SpotOnResponse and strongly prefers that users use this tool. However, it is possible to contribute data outside the SpotOnResponse application. Users can create reports using Field Notes Lite or Pro or the Clearinghouse Field Notes (but also directly available through SpotOnResponse). Reports created and sent from these applications will be shown in SpotOnResponse, but there may be some time delay before they are visible.

The tables below summarize the supported devices and features for each of these data collection tools. Click on the name of each tool for a quick description, links to the tool, and demos and tutorials. Additional tools will be added as the Clearinghouse becomes aware of their usefulness for reconnaissance. Other tools that may be useful are listed at the bottom of this page.

These tools will be tested as part of the May 15, 2013 Golden Guardian exercise. A volunteer guide will soon be available to provide more detailed instructions for the day of the exercise.

Supported Devices

Android iOS Web App
FieldNotes LT & Pro X X
SpotOnResponse X X X
Clearinghouse Field Notes X X X


Summary of Features

Geolocation Photos Audio Video Form
FieldNotes LT & Pro X X X (Pro) X (Pro) Free form text box
SpotOnResponse X X X X Free form text box & Clearinghouse data forms
Clearinghouse Field Notes  X X Fault Rupture, Liquefaction, Landslide, basic building and lifelines


FieldNotes LT & Pro

Basic Info: A note taking tool for iPhone/iPad and Android to take with you on the road: locate your position using GPS and view it on a satellite map, take notes, collect photographs all in geo-referenced format. Then transmit this information via ftp to EERI as a kmz or text. Can also embed video. Will find lat/long even if not connected to the internet.
How to get it: FieldNotesPro ($9.99), FieldNotesLT (Free)
How to use it: Demo, More info:



Basic Info: SpotOnResponse™ is a web application that the Clearinghouse is using as its primary data collection and sharing tool. Combined with XchangeCore™, the national information sharing middleware sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, SpotOnResponse allows users to upload data (text, photos, video, and converts voice to text) and view data. The application displays the location of investigators. Access to restricted information can be controlled so only agency personnel with approval can view certain data layers. 
How to get it: Website
How to use it: Tutorial, User’s Guide


Clearinghouse Field Notes

Basic Info: HTML5 web application for scientists to record basic geologic and building features in the field, developed by Scott Haefner, USGS
How to get it:
How to use it: Tutorial


Other Tools

Listed below are some other tools that are currently on our radar. They may be useful for your individual purposes, so feel free to explore them. If they are helpful, please let us know what you think.


Mapping Tools

PDF Maps (by Avenza Systems Inc.) – A mobile map application that enables you to download maps for offline use. Uses GPS to plot and record information and photos about locations. Placemarks can be exported as KML, CSV, and GPX files. Learn More

Geopaparazzi (by HydroloGIS) – This android application allows you to take georeferenced notes and photos, that may easily be exported. Learn more


Compass Tools

Strike and Dip (by Major Forms) – A digital application version of the Brunton compass for Android devices only. Measures strike and dip and can record latitude/longitude. The data can be exported via email or uploaded to a website. Learn More

GeoClino (by Geological Survey of Japan, AIST) –  A digital application version of the Brunton compass. Measures strike and dip and uses GPS to record latitude/longitude. The data can be exported via email. Learn More


Coordination Tools

Google Maps Coordinate (by Google) – A workforce management application. Improve the efficiency of mobile teams by allowing you to locate and assign tasks to nearby team members. Learn More


Data Collection Tools

ROVER (by FEMA) – Building-specific data are entered into ROVER in the field via smartphones and GPS devices, and are aggregated in a PC-based data server. Learn More