Locust Watch

eLocust3: updated field data entry & transmission

eLocust has been updated to eLocust3

eLocust3 is the latest version of the eLocust series that allows national survey and control officers in locust-affected countries to record and transmit data in real time via satellite from the field to their national locust centres. This data is the basis for the global Desert Locust monitoring and early warning system that is operated by the Desert Locust Information Service (DLIS) at FAO Headquarters in Rome. The data are used to assess the current situation, forecast its developments and warn locust-affected countries and the international donor community of locust invasions and plagues. It constitutes the basis of the preventive control strategy adopted by affected countries and FAO to reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of devastating locust plagues.

eLocust3 hardware - introducing the 11-inch Panasonic ToughPad FZ-A1 tablet

eLocust3 operates on an 11-inch Panasonic ToughPad FZ-A1 tablet. This model was selected for its ruggedness, connectivity and good display under bright outdoor conditions. It has built in GPS, Bluetooth, wifi, rechargeable battery, camera and video with USB and HDMI connections, and slots for a micro SD memory and SIM cards. The 11-inch full colour display is touch sensitive to be used with fingers or a stylus that is supplied. The tablet is completely sealed so that dust and moisture cannot enter. It is ideal for Desert Locust survey and control operations in the harsh desert under hot, dusty conditions.

The components of eLocust3

eLocust3 is an all-in-one package that consists of a Panasonic FZ-A1 ToughPad tablet, Sky Wave IDP680 antenna, custom 3m Bluetooth antenna power cable, vehicle and AC power adapters for the tablet, micro SD 16GB memory card, manual, cleaning cloth and rugged case.

The eLocust3 Sky Wave IDP680 antenna connects to Inmarsat

The Sky Wave IDP680 antenna allows data transmission via the latest generation Inmarsat communications satellite. It connects to the tablet via Bluetooth and eliminates the need for a cable connection, which was the weakest point of the eLocust2 system. The antenna can be placed on the rooftop of the vehicle, secured by four strong magnetic feet. The antenna has a much lower profile than that of eLocust2 and offers the advantages of less likely to be knocked off accidentally and can be more readily used in sensitive areas. As it has a much stronger signal to the satellite, the antenna can be placed inside the vehicle on the front dashboard rather than outside. A strong 3-metre cable connects the antenna to the vehicle's cigarette lighter socket for power. It generally takes less than one minute to transmit data.

A rugged box keeps all of the eLocust3 components together

A rugged, padded and sealed box holds all of the eLocust3 components, keeping them safe from dust, rain and bumps. Each box is labelled with the unique ID of the tablet and antenna as well as a prominent FAO sticker. This helps to minimize the risk of losing specific components. The box makes it easy to transport eLocust3 back and forth from the field.

The applications of eLocust3

eLocust3 consists of several applications. The eLocust3 application, a custom Android application developed by Novacom (France), allows users to enter New data (report), view data (reports) already saved and sent, take geo-referenced photos and organize them as albums, see the position of the team on a map and navigate to green vegetation (eLocust3D application), access a large digital reference library, and manage user settings.

Using eLocust3 in the field

Once the locust officer arrives at the survey or control location, he takes the tablet with him and records information on ecology, locust, control and safety directly in the tablet by tapping his finger on a series of simple forms (or pages) in the eLocust3 software application. The officer can use eLocust3 in English, French or Arabic.

Entering data into eLocust3 - the Report Page

The first page when starting a new eLocust3 report contains general information about the location. As a GPS is built into the tablet, the latitude/longitude coordinates of the location are automatically determined and entered into the report. The officer can use the GPS to mark out the corner points of any infestations that may need to be treated and the area will be calculated automatically. In this way, the coordinates can be relayed to vehicle drivers or aircraft pilots who might be undertaking the control operations.

Entering data into eLocust3 - the Ecology Pages

Information is entered about the habitat type, soil moisture, vegetation conditions and state, types of vegetation and recent rainfall in the Ecology Pages. There is mandatory data that must be entered in each report while additional details are optional. In this way, eLocust3 can be used both operationally and for basic research purposes.

Entering data into eLocust3 - the Locust Pages

If Desert Locust are present at the location, then the field officer can enter specific details about the type of infestations (hoppers, bands, adults, swarms) and their stage, density, size, colour, behaviour and activity. This page shown above is that for swarms.

Entering data into eLocust3 - the Control Pages

During control operations, important data can be entered concerning details about the sprayer, pesticide and spraying conditions. Later, a team can return to the same area and evaluate the treatment efficacy.

A list of eLocust3 reports that have been saved and sent

Once all the data has been entered, the report is saved and sent by satellite with the single press of a button. Prior to sending, the software checks that data is complete. The details of every report are saved on the tablet and can be accessed from a list.

Taking photos with eLocust3

While at the survey or control location, the field officer can take numerous photos. Each photo is geo-referenced and comments can be added. The photos are saved on a micro SD memory card rather than sent by satellite in order to minimize transmission costs. Later, the photos can be transferred to a PC and uploaded to the Novacom platform where they can be viewed on a map with the corresponding data. There is virtually no limit to the number of photos that can be taken. Videos are also possible.

eLocust3D – a unique application for navigation and mapping

eLocust3D is a separate custom application developed by Trilogis Srl (Italy) that is based on World Wind open-source technology developed by NASA.

eLocust3D displays satellite imagery and maps in 3D

eLocust3D contains 3-D Landsat imagery and 1:500,000 scale maps combined with the latest rainfall imagery and greenness maps for the areas in which the survey or control operations are being conducted. The maps are prepared in advance by the national locust information officer who preloads them onto the tablet.

eLocust3D can help to find green vegetation in the desert

The field officer can use eLocust3D to navigate to areas that may contain green vegetation and possibly locust infestations. Finger combinations are used to zoom in/out, pan and tilt the maps. In this way, the vast areas of the desert that need to be checked for green vegetation and Desert Locust infestations can be reduced significantly, saving both time and expenses.

A digital library in three languages in the middle of the desert

eLocust3 also contains a large digital library of technical documents, references, user guides, owner manuals, training videos and locust photos to help the field officer during survey and control operations. The PDF formatted documents are available in English, French and Arabic.

eLocust3 has two user modes: Basic and Advanced

As the Panasonic ToughPad is a complete handheld computer, there are two operating modes for eLocust3 – Basic and Advanced. In the Basic User Mode, the tablet is limited to six applications: Adobe Reader (for the digital library), GPS, dashboard (for basic settings), eLocust3D, eLocust3 and VLC (for videos). There are no limitations in Advanced User Mode.

eLocust3 data is available at any time from a secure web server

eLocust3 data can be managed, queried and displayed on the Internet via a secure access platform operated by Novacom. Each country has their own password protected user account where they can display the field data on a series of maps and satellite imagery, including geo-referenced photos that may have been taken at the survey or control location.

Extensive eLocust3 training was provided to Master Trainers by FAO

FAO has provided extensive training to designated Master Trainers in each country through a series of workshops. The Master Trainers are responsible for training all of the field officers in their own country. DLIS configured more than 400 eLocust3 kits and dispatched them to every Desert Locust frontline country, some 19 countries, between West Africa and India.

eLocust3 has been in operation in locust-affected countries since 1 January 2015

On 1 January 2015, eLocust2 service stopped and eLocust3 became operational in all countries. Users are extremely enthusiastic with the benefits of eLocust3 compared to eLocust2: easier to use, more data can be entered and transmitted at no additional cost, geo-referenced photos, digital library of references, maps and navigation, three languages, colour, Bluetooth connectivity, improved antenna, rechargeable battery, and many other features. It is expected that eLocust3 will serve the countries for at least the next decade if not longer.

eLocust3D does NOT require an Internet connection in the desert

eLocust3D has been internationally recognized and has won awards because it operates in the field without the need for an Internet connection. This, obviously, is extremely important since Desert Locust survey and control operations are undertaken in some of the remotest places on this planet and there is no possibility for Internet connectivety.
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Related links
See also
eLocust2: field data entry & transmission

Handheld device for locust officers to record survey and control results in the field and transmit them via satellite to their National Locust Centres

Early Warning

The basic components that are required for any early warning system to be effective and reliable


A dynamic map that shows where vegetation is present in the desert and how long it has been green to better monitor Desert Locusts habitats

Google Earth Engine

Innovative Google technology and free new tools: Google Earth Pro, My Maps, Fusion Tables, and Google Earth Engine, already used by FAO Forestry and being extended for Desert Locust

Desert Locust Information Service 

The Desert Locust Information Service (DLIS) at FAO Headquarters (Rome, Italy)