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Understanding GPS surveys

23 August 2011

AUTHOR:Kevin Birch

A recent article mentioned that GPS (Global Positioning System) technology is now in common usage for Surveyors. In simple terms GPS equipment uses man made satellites orbiting the earth to calculate a position on earth. The accuracy being a function of the number of satellites available. This technology is utilized in a variety of circumstances, but the cost of the equipment is a function of the accuracy required. Simple GPS equipment used in motor vehicles and pleasurecraft only needs to provide a position within 10 metres in order to assist with the navigation of a car or a boat.

As the accuracy has improved and the costs of this technology has come down, we have been increasingly using GPS technology to determine locations and heights. With an increasing number of satellites orbiting the earth, the availability and accuracy of GPS has improved, and GPS surveys are used on an everyday basis at Birch Surveyors. Quality GPS survey equipment allows us to position boundary pegs in new subdivisions, to locate old boundary marks, and to rapidly record the position and height of points on the grounds.

The benefits of this technology is that it provides an additional cost effective survey technique particularly where more traditional methods are difficult.