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 Geospatial Solutions
M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD
M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD
Dr. Tighe has a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences, a graduate degree in Remote Sensing and GIS, and a B.Sc. in Physics and Geology. Dr. Tighe has delivered lectures ranging from a half day workshop to a 4 week training program to over 2000 participants in USA, Canada, Jamaica, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, … More »

Precise positing

November 26th, 2013 by M. Lorraine Tighe, PhD

Precise positing – the ability to know your location from a latitude – longitude, or X-Y location, on the earth and how high above mean sea level your feet are firmly planted on the ground to within centimeters. Is this type of information becoming a wave of the future or am I just a geek about it? When I go to the gym in the morning, I am strapped with my fitbit and my Polar Heart Rate monitor which provide me with information about my speed, distance, x-y-z location, and heart rate while I train. Not to mention, providing me with an avenue to publish my activity via social media to participate in competitions with friends. J This type of information can be plotted on Google Earth to see where I have traversed, although, sadly enough when I workout at the gym my traverse is a “dot” as I barely change in x and y or z (height) for that matter, when on a treadmill. On the other hand, when I am outside, my walk changes in all three dimensions which can be displayed quite nicely in Google.

Such information has been made possible with the advent of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) which started with the launch of the U. S. Department of Defence Global Positioning System (GPS) in the late 1970’s. Early applications of GNSS were adapted by the military and in the fields of survey and mapping. Today, the GNSS user community has branched out to include construction, engineering, agriculture, natural resources, and of course gym enthusiasts.  How precise are we getting?

My Polar device is a little less precise making my x-y and z location to within a meter or so, however, hand held devices are becoming more and more accurate as GPS giants like Trimble have jumped into creating iPhone and Android operating system smart-phone apps. For example, Trimble Outdoors Navigator Hiking GPS App is available free for your iPhone or Android. It takes advantage of your smart phone’s high-resolution color touch-screens, built-in GPS sensors, and cameras which make them a natural platform for maps, trail guides, photo taking and sharing, social media sharing, mileage and travel logs, and tracking your activity route.  The Trimble Outdoors Navigator app has a robust feature set for hikers including fully integrated GPS, five different map types, including streets, aerial, hybrid, topographic, and terrain, plus the ability to download and store maps on the phone, so you can use maps when out of cell phone/data range allowing for accuracies much better than a meter.

To satisfy geeks like myself, the Navigator app is also rich in other technical features that include a digital compass showing magnetic north and true north, the ability to mark, store, and describe waypoints, stored tracks, and the ability to match your latitude/longitude or UTM coordinates to your paper map or GPS device.

How are you using precise positioning in your everyday like? What type of accuracies are you achieving?

Category: Geospatial Information

One Response to “Precise positing”

  1. Iain Stuart says:

    I use My Tracks to map my daily walks and for field work I can simply leave it on to track my location over a few hours. GPS Test is a usefully app for measuring GPS accuracy and in a month haven’t managed to get accuracy below 3m on a Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

    As I see it the mobile devices have effectively replaced the 3-5m accuracy hand-held GPS’s such as the Garmin Montana – they do just the same plus you can add so many more apps and of course call someone.

    The next steps to greater accuracy would be a GPS phone with a better GPS sensor and/or some way of post processing phone GPS data.

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