ArcGIS Pro

Maintain data accountability with editor tracking - Part 1

Data accountability and transparency are well-established principles most organizations embed in their business plan. Having a framework that ensures the accountability requirements are met helps increase the trust and credibility of your data.

In ArcGIS, you can use the editor tracking tool to track edits made in a geodatabase. It helps track details such as who created or edited a feature class and when.

In the following scenario, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy uses editor tracking to enforce quality control standards between their public office and private turbine manufacturing companies.

Context

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) has announced a sustainable energy strategy in which their primary goal is to increase domestic wind energy production by 7 percent.

To plan for this change, each wind facility is required to perform base assessments for all the country’s wind turbines. Part of the base assessment includes turbine condition checks, current production assessments, and operational status updates. These are important factors to accurately predict the potential increase in energy.

During this assessment period, the manufacturers will send system operators into the field to test and compile a report for these base assessments.

To enforce quality control standards on the field assessments and maintain transparency between the private turbine manufacturers and the SFOE, all data edits and information about the editor must be recorded. The project manager is wondering how they can record these changes in the database. The GIS specialists recommended enabling editor tracking on the Wind Turbines feature class.

Switzerland Wind Energy Map
Switzerland Wind Energy Map

How can editor tracking help maintain data accountability?

Editor tracking is a data management tool that records information about any additions and updates made in a geodatabase. It records who created or modified the data and a time stamp of when the edit occurred.

Editor tracking helps maintain data accountability by automatically tracking the following information:

How the editor tracking capabilities adapt to this project?

Editor tracking recorded values

Information recorded by the editor tracking

Your project details

Associated details from the project feature class (e.g.,the Wind Facilities feature class)

User who created a feature Manufacturer company who built the wind turbine
Date and time the feature was created Year of construction of the wind turbine
User who last edited a feature System operator who performs the base assessment in the field
Date and time the feature was last edited The timestamp of when the last edit was made for the base assessment
What edits aren’t recorded How this affects project goals
– Changing the schema without modifying column values

– Adding or deleting fields

– Copying and pasting a feature class

The system operators performing the base assessment are database users with editing privileges. They can only make changes to the wind turbine attributes and are not allowed to make any schema changes.

After reviewing how editor tracking can benefit our project, how do we implement it?

Implementing Editor Tracking

In ArcGIS Pro, you can enable editor tracking on your data using the following methods:

Editor tracking on the Manage tab
Editor tracking on the Manage tab
Enable Editor Tracking geoprocessing tool
Enable Editor Tracking geoprocessing tool

For this workflow, you use the first option, the Manage tab.

1. Access the Manage tab from the context menu of the Wind Turbine feature class.
Once the Editor tracking option is checked, the page populates with the default fields and data types designated to track the edits.

When editor tracking is enabled in ArcGIS Pro, these fields will automatically be created and added to the feature class.

Since there are already fields that store the manufacturer and creation date in the feature class, you will adjust the default fields for editor tracking to better fit your geodatabase schema.

Wind Turbines attribute table
Wind Turbines attribute table

2. Building on the table above, for each role and recorded value, map the appropriate field to store the edit information.

Editor tracking recorded values Geodatabase default fields that store recorded values   Your project       details Editor tracking fields for the feature class schema (Wind Facilites feature class)
User who created a feature Creator Field Manufacturer company that built the wind turbine Assign existing field: Manufacturer field
Date and time the feature was created Created Date Field Year of construction of the wind turbine Assign existing field:  Year of Construction field
User who last edited a feature Editor Field System operator who performs the base assessment in the field Add New Field:            System Operator field
Date and time the feature was last edited Edit Data field The date when the last edit is made for the base assessment Use Default field: Last Edited Date field

3. Back to the Manage tab, on the Creator Field drop-down menu, choose manufacturer field.

Select the Manufacturer field as the Creator field
Select the Manufacturer field as the Creator field

4. On the Create Date Field drop-down menu, choose yearOfConstruction.

5. On the Editor Field drop-down list, select the Add new field. Name the new field system_operator.

Create a new System Operator field for the Editor Field
Create a new System Operator field for the Editor Field

6. For the Edit Date Field, leave the default field.

When done, the Editor tracking fields should look like this:

Editor Tracking fields filled in
Editor Tracking fields filled in

Notice the fifth option, Time standard. The date and time will be recorded in either UTC or database time.

Because the data will be shared through services, keep the default value of UTC.

Test the editing experience

Before the editors start making changes, it is important to test the editing workflow.

In the example below, Wind Turbine #3 has the following attributes:

Wind Turbine 3 attributes
Wind Turbine 3 attributes

If a change is made to one of the attributes—for example, increasing the Rated power value from 6.5 kilowatts to 7 kilowatts—and the change is applied, edit tracking will record the following:

Wind Turbine #3 with edits
Wind Turbine #3 with edits

But who is the user OWNER and how does editor tracking record usernames?

In this example, OWNER is the database user who loaded and manages the wind turbines feature class; therefore, they are the data owner. This is the GIS specialist connected to the SwissEnergy enterprise geodatabase as the data owner user using database authentication.

In general, editor tracking records the name of the user who creates or edits a feature based on the authentication method used to access the file, mobile, or enterprise geodatabase.

In this scenario, the base assessment process has started, and several system operators have already made edits to the Wind Turbines feature and updated the operational status.

Editor tracking successfully recorded all the important edit information. It recorded who created a feature, who last updated an existing feature, and when they did so.

New edit information recorded on the Wind Turbines
New edit information recorded on the Wind Turbines

You now know what editor tracking is and its benefits. You followed a scenario-based workflow, where the Swiss Federal Office of Energy successfully used editor tracking as a solution to maintain wind turbine data accountability during the base assessment process performed by the system operators. Editor tracking helped record the username of each system operator and the timestamp when they made edits.

But what happens when the same feature is edited by multiple editors? For example, a wind turbine feature is edited by system operator Elena, and then Gigi redoes the base assessment and determines one of the metrics is incorrect and it changes the operation status. Editor tracking will only record the edit made by Gigi, as she is the last editor. But what happens to Elena’s edit and how can it be accounted for? More importantly, can editor tracking keep a record of multiple edits, or is a different data management tool needed? These questions will be addressed in a follow-up blog.

 

Acknowledgments: Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and Esri Suisse for the Wind Energy Plants dataset.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

About the author

Product Engineer in the Geodatabase team, passionate about making a difference in people's lives using GIS. Hiker and a true Éclair and Crêpe lover in her free time.

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