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Surveying and BYOD: Yes, you can use your smartphone

iOS aerial viewer. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)Photo:

BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE (BYOD) isn’t just an industry buzzword. It may well change the best way skilled surveyors work daily. The thought of utilizing a smartphone or pill as an alternative of a devoted gadget is interesting. However is it ok?

Surveyors and mappers are challenged with the arduous process of knowledge assortment that meets accuracy and precision requirements and offers satisfactory attribute info for the challenge. Earlier than the invention of the digital knowledge collector, handwritten notes in area books have been the norm. Each notice keeper’s type diversified in content material, neatness and thoroughness. Calculations for figuring out survey knowledge values have been accomplished longhand on paper and have been very time consuming.

Historical past of Surveyors and Knowledge Collectors

Like its private pc counterpart, the digital knowledge collector was launched within the late 1970s with minimal adoption by the typical surveyor due to value and complexity. Storage strategies for the period included magnetic modules and tape; each types of media have been costly and fragile with little storage for the fee.

Knowledge assortment was restricted to numeric values solely, with horizontal and vertical angles, slope distance, level quantity and level code being the extent of the knowledge. Couple this course of with the restricted availability of printers and plotters able to depicting the info for the surveyor’s use, and one can see why few practitioners invested in these techniques.

iOS aerial viewer. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)Photo:

iOS aerial viewer. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

The 1980s and 1990s introduced vital modifications to surveying with the advancing know-how of digital computing and measuring. The introduction of robotic complete stations, numerous strategies of GNSS, and even leveling took benefit of serious pc energy and measuring processes, and the info collector stayed in lockstep with the advancing instrumentation. Virtually each gear producer developed their very own proprietary knowledge collector and software program system due to the distinctive design and programming of their methods.

Within the 2000s and later, third-party producers started producing knowledge collectors with superior computing energy and the power to hook up with various manufacturers of kit. A lot of the programming for these collectors are nonetheless proprietary in nature to today.

Additionally through the 2000s, a brand new wave in cellular communications was happening. Cellular telephone and knowledge alerts have been now getting used to transmit an abundance of data between customers.

The speedy improvement of handheld communication units has led to the meteoric rise of two particular cellular working techniques: one by a radical startup that targeting dominating the search engine market, and the opposite by an avant garde pc firm trying to increase its distinctive buyer base.

By the top of the last decade, the world had been launched to the Android working system by Google, and the iOS working system by Apple. The mixed market share for the 2 working methods at press time was slightly below 98 % of all cellular units worldwide.

Trending Away from Proprietary Knowledge Collectors

Android Point Info: Confirmation of collected data, including equipment and base station. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

Android Level Information: Affirmation of collected knowledge, together with gear and base station. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

As a result of knowledge assortment by surveyors and mappers have historically been carried out on proprietary methods designed and produced by gear producers to be used with solely their devices, these collectors, whereas very highly effective and strong, are pricey for the gear producers to supply due to the restricted market of surveyors and mappers.

Many suppliers, earlier than the introduction of the iPhone and Android working techniques, tried to adapt their data-collection platforms to wider acknowledged cellular working methods (for instance, Home windows CE/Pocket PC/Cellular) on a bevy of cellular units (HP/iPAQ, Sony Eriksson, HTC) with little success. Numerous variations of Home windows are nonetheless getting used as we speak by GNSS gear producers’ proprietary knowledge collectors, together with Trimble, Hemisphere GNSS, Topcon and CHC Navigation.

Nevertheless, the sector of working environments has turn out to be extra crowded as know-how continues to advance. The proliferation of Home windows-based knowledge collectors at the moment are on the decline.

Survey Point: Status of survey data collection and GNSS engine signal reception. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

Survey Level: Standing of survey knowledge assortment and GNSS engine sign reception. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

Enter Android and iOS. Driving the decline of the beforehand common Home windows cellular platform is the speedy adoption of the iOS and Android working techniques. These two environments have additionally led to a considerable variety of units and purposes for customers.

A part of the rationale for the speedy acceptance of the units and working techniques has been the convenience of programming. It’s estimated that every working system has greater than two million purposes of their respective on-line shops, with extra being launched day by day.

Due to the proliferation of smartphones, almost everyone seems to be acquainted with the look, really feel and operation of touchscreen units and their numerous purposes. This familiarity is driving a brand new development in knowledge assortment: the idea of “convey your personal system” (in any other case recognized in IT safety circles as “BYOD”). BYOD is being launched by a number of surveying and mapping gear producers as an alternative choice to their proprietary data-collection units.

Sky Plot: Where the ‘birds’ are in the sky. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

Sky Plot: The place the ‘birds’ are within the sky. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

These producers are pairing iOS and Android builders with their hardware and firmware specialists to create a user-friendly interface that may perform on a lot of the hottest handheld units available on the market immediately. From Apple iPhones and iPads to Samsung Galaxy telephones and tablets, these purposes give the surveyor one of the best of two worlds — refined data-collection functionality on a well known and dependable cellular working system platform.

The Android platform is turning into particularly common within the handheld mapping market phase. Present customers of this surroundings embrace Hemisphere GNSS, CHC Navigation, Tersus GNSS and Trimble.

The iOS purposes, whereas not fairly as prevalent as Android, are being embraced by a number of vital GNSS producers, together with JAVAD GNSS and Eos Positioning Methods.

These corporations are creating iOS and Android apps that embrace the BYOD market, offering their customers with affordability and making a consolation degree merely due to the familiarity of the gadget and its surroundings.

How Good Is It?

iOS Position. Status of survey data collection and GNSS engine signal reception. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

iOS Place. Standing of survey knowledge assortment and GNSS engine sign reception. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

For the surveyor to be glad with the operation, the gathering course of have to be environment friendly, cost-effective and straightforward to make use of. For this rationalization of key gadgets inside a well-rounded data-collection software, we’re utilizing the JAVAD Cellular Instruments (now J-Cellular) software constructed particularly for the Android and iOS working techniques.

The Android system (Model 7.zero) was put in on a rugged CAT S41 cellphone made Bullitt Group from the UK, whereas the iOS app was used on the writer’s iPad Air 2 operating Model 12.2. Each apps have been utilized together with the JAVAD Triumph-2 GNSS receiver.

After placing each variations by means of trial testing and checking towards values on recognized monuments, right here is the outcomes of our findings:

Receiver Setup. Visual reference for leveling and direction of GNSS receiver. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

Receiver Setup. Visible reference for leveling and path of GNSS receiver. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

Knowledge Group. Straightforward to grasp and versatile for many naming conventions.
Corrections and Sources. Simply connects to base receiver and radio or obtainable NTRIP correction service for real-time community (RTN) functionality.

Sky Plot. As a result of the Triumph-2 is provided to obtain a lot of the out there satellites in service, the Sky Plot function is useful to the consumer for assessing potential interference.

File Administration, Import and Export. Covers the standard file administration and switch features utilized by the surveyor.

RTK Survey Operations. Strong telemetry retains the customers knowledgeable of particular satellite tv for pc knowledge and correction standing.

Point Confirmation. Survey point information with metadata and equipment listing. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

Level Affirmation. Survey level info with metadata and gear itemizing. (Screenshot: Tim Burch)

Coordinate Methods. All commonplace coordinate techniques are included with options to permit the consumer to customise their very own techniques.

Localization. Creation of an area coordinate system is an easy routine, offering robust high quality checks for knowledge integrity.

Carry and Tilt. This function supplies the consumer with a helpful process to finish knowledge assortment with out the necessity to press a button. This function considerably will increase the consumer’s productiveness.

Compass and Degree Calibration. With the Triumph-2 having an inner compass and degree system, standing of the receiver is graphically displayed to assist the consumer maintain an in depth watch on the accuracy of the survey level.

Survey Factors and Linework. Most level naming techniques and line-coding procedures are simply tailored.
Complete Station Level Switch. The creation of management level information for switch to complete stations is straightforward and straightforward to make use of.

Stakeout. Graphical standing screens present the consumer with easy plotting functionality of the specified stakeout level to extend effectivity and accuracy.

These apps are good at offering the surveyor with a strong software for knowledge assortment and staking functionality. They’re particularly good when paired with a real-time kinematic
(RTK) base station or NTRIP correction service.

However what occurs when cell service is just not available, or there are not any revealed monument coordinates to determine website management? These apps have the surveyor coated for that state of affairs as nicely.

Publish-Processing (OPUS and DPOS)

Immediately’s surveyor works in an surroundings the place geographic-based knowledge is a key element to the providers they render to their shoppers. Whereas a lot of the world’s developed nations have entry to mobile networks by which most GNSS receivers can talk with an RTN offering corrective options, the locations the place this isn’t potential depends on different means of knowledge correction.

Within the U.S. we depend on OPUS (On-line Submit-Processing Consumer System) to offer that service. However, nearly as good as it’s, it has limitations. At present, it solely makes use of GPS satellite tv for pc knowledge from the U.S. Division of Protection and is topic to sporadic authorities shutdowns.

Different providers, from each private and non-private sources, are in place all over the world to offer a service just like OPUS. These embrace, however usually are not restricted to:

  • AUSPOS. Geoscience Australia (free)
  • APPS. Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Know-how (free)
  • CSRS-PPP. Pure Assets Canada (free)
  • GAPS. College of New Brunswick (free)
  • magicGNSS. GMV (free)
  • Centerpoint RTX Submit Processing. Trimble (free)
  • JAVAD Knowledge Processing Service (DPOS). JAVAD (free, processes any JAVAD GNSS jps file)

These correction providers make the most of different satellite tv for pc constellations (GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou and QZSS) for his or her options and may present further protection, relying on the situation of the consumer. Due to these providers, geographic-based knowledge is on the fingertips of surveyors worldwide.

JAVAD’s DPOS system is has the power to gather static survey knowledge and ship it to the proprietary service for establishing new coordinate values for base-station use. This course of is a perform of the app and could be accomplished in a number of brief steps.

As soon as the bottom station values are calculated, the surveyor could make use of this info for establishing a base station for correction broadcasting.

Do You Want a Base Station?

The institution of RTNs has tremendously enhanced surveying functionality as mobile service has elevated in protection and velocity. Nevertheless, there are nonetheless situations and locales that don’t permit for the dependable use of cell alerts to offer these corrections precisely.

Numerous producers’ exams have confirmed the accuracy of utilizing an RTN subscription versus the normal GNSS base and rover RTK setup. However cell-signal power might be an Achilles heel, crippling those that select to not arrange a base station.

The UHF radio, even in its lowered energy state from regulatory modifications, continues to be extra highly effective and dependable than most cell providers. 5G know-how and protection is anticipated to revolutionize mobile service, however it has but to be realized.

Adaptation of the Business

Different GNSS producers (together with NovAtel, Navcom, ComNav, Unicore, Emcore, Suzhou, TeleOrbit and Geneq) are producing receivers that may be tailored to quite a lot of present knowledge collectors and hook up with iOS/Android cellular units via numerous software program builders.

The way forward for communications stays the smartphone or pill system, with foldable models anticipated to be the subsequent massive factor.

As processors get extra highly effective, as chip reminiscence turns into extra ample, and as extra satellite tv for pc constellations orbit in our sky, surveyors and their knowledge collectors will proceed to evolve. The longer term stays vibrant for know-how and the surveyor has a front-row seat.


TIM BURCH is GPS World’s contributing editor for Survey. Knowledgeable land surveyor with greater than 30 years of expertise, he’s director of surveying at SPACECO Inc. within the Chicago space. For a number of years he has been secretary and was lately named vice-president of the Board of Administrators of the Nationwide Society of Skilled Surveyors. He writes a bi-monthly column within the Survey Scene e-newsletter. Subscribe free at www.gpsworld.com/subscribe.


Receiver, Software program Prepared for Cellular

Photo: ComNav

Photograph: ComNav

ComNav receivers supply a number of data-collection system decisions by way of Bluetooth connection, in addition to an Android app.

For example, the G200 offers centimeter-accuracy positioning to any related cellular units for RTK area surveying. It is ready to supply strong survey workflows with the SinoGNSS Android-based Survey Grasp, in order that surveyors can acquire high quality high-accuracy positions it doesn’t matter what cellular system they’re utilizing.

The G200 is a rugged, compact, wearable GNSS receiver. Mixed with the high-performance SinoGNSS OEM board monitoring GPS L1/L2, BeiDou B1/B2, GLONASS L1/L2, Galileo and QZSS, the G200 allows dependable high-precision GNSS efficiency for land survey duties anyplace on the earth.

TerraStar Provides Help to RTK

Photo: Leica Geosystems

Photograph: Leica Geosystems

NovAtel gives a number of ranges of corrections by way of its TerraStar service. For surveying purposes, the RTK Help service supplies correction knowledge to bridge surveyors by way of any real-time kinematic (RTK) correction outages. TerraStar providers work on NovAtel’s OEM6 and OEM7 receivers..

RTK Help, obtainable on OEM6/OEM7 receivers, offers 20 minutes of RTK help, enabling surveyors to take care of centimeter-level accuracy. A better service degree, RTK Help Professional, is on the market on OEM7 receivers. It offers limitless RTK help with stand-alone centimeter-level positioning when RTK shouldn’t be out there.

Trimble Gives Net-Based mostly Submit-Processing

Photo: Trimble

Photograph: Trimble

Trimble’s CenterPoint RTX Publish-Processing Service is a free, web-based answer that gives rigorous processing of GNSS knowledge for customers across the globe.

Powered by superior algorithms for processing static observations, CenterPoint RTX Publish-Processing helps knowledge together with GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou and QZSS. With the service, customers can add GNSS knowledge utilizing Trimble codecs or industry-standard RINEX 2 and RINEX three. The service helps all dual-frequency GNSS receivers and greater than 400 totally different antennas.

The post-processing service computes single-station static remark periods ranging in size from 10 minutes as much as 24 hours, with longer statement periods advisable to supply the very best accuracy. Utilizing knowledge from the worldwide RTX monitoring community, the CenterPoint RTX Submit-Processing service computes the place of the noticed level with centimeter accuracy.

Outcomes are delivered by way of e-mail in ITRF coordinates on the present epoch and might be reworked to a hard and fast epoch by use of a normal tectonic-plate mannequin.

Atlas Corrections Prepared for BYOD

The Atlas GNSS international correction service, provided by Hemisphere GNSS, offers correction knowledge for GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo constellations. Its international L-band corrections permit for accuracies starting from sub-meter to sub-decimeter ranges. The community has greater than 200 reference stations worldwide and covers nearly all the globe.

Examples of how the AtlasLink webUI looks on a smartphone. (Image: Hemisphere GNSS)

Examples of how the AtlasLink webUI seems on a smartphone. (Picture: Hemisphere GNSS)

The Atlas platform was conceived to allow as many individuals as potential to have entry to the correction service know-how, both as an end-user or as a part of their enterprise. A number of options are designed to allow clients who use non-Hemisphere positioning techniques to have entry to Atlas.

As an example, Hemisphere’s SmartLink know-how permits an AtlasLink GNSS sensible antenna for use as an Atlas sign extension for any GNSS system compliant with open communication requirements.

Hemisphere’s GNSS sensible antennas together with AtlasLink, A326, C321+ and S321+ supply a user-friendly net consumer interface (WebUI) that can be utilized to configure, monitor and handle the receiver from nearly any trendy computing system, together with computer systems, telephones and tablets.