Users please give input - timestamps (and timezones)

Hi all

Please can I ask for input from users on Timestamps, and what data you would like us to give you in the CyberTracker Online table and export to CSV.

There are two timestamps that we work with:

  • Timestamp: The time at which the observation was captured/saved on the Mobile
  • Submitted: The time at which the observation was submitted to CyberTracker Online (could be some time, even days, later)

Now if we throw some timezones into the mix, we can have the following different versions of each of those times.

  • An observation was saved in South Africa at 17:00 SA local time
  • SA time offset is UTC +02:00
  • So the same time expressed as UTC is 15:00
  • For a researcher viewing the data in Seattle in the States, the same time is 08:00 Seattle time (offset -07:00 currently)

I’m thinking it is important to know what the local time was in the place where the observation was captured, as it could be strange to see daylight animals roaming around at night and so on. But if we always show the local time as the timestamp, if observations come from data collectors in different timezones, then it is also good to know what the corresponding time in UTC (or the viewer’s local time) is/was.

Obviously date can be affected as well, since if the times go over midnight it is actually a different date in different places at the same time.

We have added a number of columns to the data table, as follows (picture from our development environment, not released to production yet):

These observations were all submitted from the simulator, which is set to a location in Gabon, time offset +01:00. I am viewing them from SA, offset +02:00.

So you can see what we’ve called the “Capture local time” (Gabon), the UTC time, and “your local time”, meaning me, the current person/location viewing the data (SA).

My questions:

  • Is this too much information, should we drop some of these, what do you actually need
  • What should we call them to be clear - Timestamp (capture local time) is not working well for me as a header, and is too long for my liking
  • Submitted we are only doing ever as UTC, don’t think it is as important as Timestamp?
  • Is the capture local time the most important - currently we have this as the first column, and sort the records by it by default, also if you were to use the date filters it would filter on that column - should it rather be one of the others that is first/sorted by/filterable?
  • In the CSV, we split the date and time components for timestamp, to make it easier to sort/filter data in the CSV, do pivot tables etc, do you need the other columns split as well (not currently doing that).

Appreciate any input you can give.

Kind regards, Kate

I would recommend using ISO 8601 with time zone.

For example:
Means 1:15PM local time at UTC-7

This effectively gives you both the local time and the UTC time.