GIS Tech News (#60)

17 Jun, 2008

The Pen That Writes Directly to ArcMapp>

Adapx's Capturx pen and software combo enables even nonprofessionals to perform GIS fieldwork.

By Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong photo

Marion O'Connor, a teacher from the Bicentennial Elementary School in Nashua, New Hampshire, couldn't help noticing the empty plastic bottles, cans, and discarded appliances that had accumulated over time along various bike trails in the city's Southwest Park. So, with Earth Day approaching, she decided to tackle the scattered piles of debris. At the same time, she wanted to map out all the bike trails within the area.

O'Connor assembled a small crew of students, teachers, and community members. To remove the items that were simply too big for the volunteers, she would need help from the city's Department of Public Works (DPW). She envisioned marking up a map with the GPS coordinates of the oversize items she encountered, then turning over the annotated map to the DPW.

"I think we can do better than that," Angelo Marino, Nashua's chief assessor and GIS coordinator, told her. Then he showed her a pen that could digitally store what she was writing. Once she had finished marking up with this pen, the little dots she'd placed on the map could be uploaded as points into a GIS application.

In essence, O'Connor and her team would be turning trash and bike trails into GIS features — without understanding anything about GIS.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Mouse
The pen Marino loaned O'Connor was Capturx, the digital pen developed by Adapx. Bundled with ArcGIS, the pen operates as a field data collection device for GIS and CAD users. Read more »

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Kenneth Wong is Cadalyst's executive editor. He explores innovative uses of technology and its implications in his writing. Reach him at


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