High quality metadata are a pre-requisite for enabling FAIR data products. In Earth and environmental research some metadata, such as the coordinates, need to be recorded directly in field. Other information, e.g. which kinds of samples were collected, may be saved after the campaign at the risk of being erroneous and time intensive.
In order to improve the metadata workflow at Hereon, we established an app for field metadata collection at the Helmholtz Coastal Data Center. The fields that need to be filled in a survey include the coordinates, date and time, the station name, the campaign and sample characteristics. Additional information, such as an image of a sample, can also be attached. The app, Survey123 developed by Esri, is easily customizable and is configured for each individual campaign. A GNSS receiver with up to 0.1m accuracy provides the location to the app.
Advantages of using the field app over previously used paper records are for example the automatic inclusion of GNSS data and a digital record of the metadata. This decreases the chance of manual transcription errors or data loss and allows for direct access of the metadata in the field, e.g. through an online map.
The metadata are transmitted via mobile transfer to our institution’s cloud storage, from where it is quality checked and stored in a database. An automatic registration of IGSNs for the samples is planned at this step. Once the samples are analyzed, the resulting data is connected to the corresponding metadata and published.