Guidelines for Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) Surveying

Over the past decade Real Time Kinematic, RTK surveying  with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) has become common practice in geomatics.RTK Surveying with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)

RTK surveying is a relative positioning technique which measures positions using two GNSS antennas in real time. One is setup on a static point with fixed coordinates and is known as the base station. It uses a high frequency radio to transmit its raw observations to the second unit (known as the rover) and then the rover uses both observations to compute a position relative to the base location in real-time. RTK surveying requires reliable communication between base and rover units and works best with short baselines as the precision of RTK measurements decreases as the baseline length increases.

Guidelines for Real-Time Kinematic – RTK Surveying

Real Time Networks have been developed as a method of extending range limitations between base-to-rover. RTNs make use of a several base stations together to collect GNSS observations that can be used with a rover to compute a position relative to the network solution in real-time. During the last few years more public and private RTNs have been rapidly increasing, providing larger coverage zones (mostly in higher populated regions). However due to the size of Canada and the availability and extent of RTN zones, RTK surveying remains to be the viable option in GPS surveying.RTK Surveying in Canada

Both RTK & RTN GNSS surveying can allow people to achieve relative positioning with centimetre (cm) precision, however there are several important factors that need to be considered and thus a need for a good guide of best practices (equipment calibration, errors, multipath, geometry, etc.). Therefore Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) put together a group of exports from various departments that came together to publish a new set of guidelines for RTK / RTN GNSS surveying in Canada in order to better assist the surveying community and the growing geomatics industry in Canada. Their goal was to provide the industry with a set of concise and easy to follow best practice guidelines that when followed can help users achieve centimetre level RTK/RTN survey accuracy.

You can download the 29 page PDF document with this link

http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/sites/www.nrcan.gc.ca/files/earthsciences/pdf/Canada-RTK-UserGuide-v1_1-EN.pdf

Public Real Time Networks in Canada for RTK Surveying

[Article original published: Aug. 2013]



Post Update:
Since publishing this info last year, I have come across some other similar documents about RTK GNSS surveying from various other sources and have included the links to them below.


Historical Orthophotos of Alberta

Alberta Historical Orthophotos - Old Man River Dam in 1949-51 (left) and 2013 (right)

Old Man River Dam in 1949-51 (left) and 2013 (right)

Alberta Historical Orthophotos

Historical Orthophotos of Alberta contains georeferenced orthophoto maps consisting of aerial photography mainly from 1949 to 1951 with coverage for the whole province. It also contains various maps created with photos from 1961 to 1963. Each of the original maps covers a 1:50,000 NTS sheet at a scale of 1:63,360.

To download the georeferenced orthophoto maps you will need to use FTP software such as FileZilla (available free online). Metadata Download: http://www.abmi.ca/home/publications/351-400/376.html

Ftp server: ftp.public.abmi.ca
user name: web|anonymous
password: anonymous
path: /GISProduct/HistoricalOrthophotos

[Source: ABMI.ca]

 


QGIS – Open Source GIS Software

One of the more popular desktop geographic information system (GIS) software packages available these days happens to be a free open source software, known as QGIS.

QGISEarlier known as Quantum GIS, QGIS is a cross platform open source GIS software package used for creating new and editing existing maps. It can be installed and used with many different operating systems including Windows, UNIX and Linux etc and supports a wide format of data formats such as raster and vector layers.

Quantum GIS started out as public licensed project in 2002 by Gary Sherman, whom wanted to use GIS tools with Linux to view and analyze maps, and also had a keen interest in programming.  The software is written in C++ programming language with various integrated plug-ins are developed using Python and C++. The first fully functional version of the software was released in January 2009 and is continuously being updated from time to time.

QGIS – Open Source GIS Software

Since QGIS is open source, community driven project, the full software code with a bug tracker is maintained from the QGIS website, that is managed and operated by a steering committee that includes people from all around the world. Anyone interested in contributing to the development of the software can get information from the development section in the official website. Getting into the functional specifications of QGIS, the application lets the user to browse and view maps and edit them. Users can also create plug-ins using either Python or C++. Also, the application lets printing maps using print composer.

QGIS & OpenStreetMap free user guidesQGIS is an open source software which means all the code that is used for the development of the application is available free of cost for download. This allows any user to download the code and modify the same based on their interests and needs. You also need not pay for using the application and hence no licensing issues come into picture.

There are certain drawbacks of using open source software. The GUI of such applications sometimes lack user friendly features but QGIS overcomes this drawback by having highly user friendly GUI. Even though there are many other open source GIS applications online, QGIS has evolved to be the number one open source desktop GIS application. The reasons for the same are discussed below along with a short user guide on how to install the application and use it to the maximum benefit.

Features of QGIS and why it is ranked on top of Open Source Application:

There are various features of QGIS which makes it a popular desktop GIS application, available freely online. Some of the important features include seamless viewing of spatial data using advanced symbology. Apart from the desktop application, there is also QGIS browser which lets user access data in a faster time.

The application supports various formats such as vector, database and raster formats. One major advantage of QGIS is that it allows users to import open street map files that are also gaining popularity every day. Apart from viewing and exploring spatial data, the application allows users to edit the data by working between nodes and polygons. Users can also convert one file to another without complexity. QGIS also allow users to download and upload maps using GPS unit.

Apart from using the application for viewing maps, it also helps analyze spatial elements such as polygon centroids and matrix intersections. If you are also experts in creating maps or editing them for your personal needs, you can publish them in the internet.

With OpenStreetMaps (OSM) grabbing the attention of all start ups, essential for any GIS application to provide support for importing and exporting OSM. QGIS considers importing OSM as its core functionality and the entire process is very simple and faster. Users can easily import OSM data from the server and download to local database.

The application also supports integration with various open source packages, thereby extending the functionality. QGIS also provides an easy way of importing tiles from OSM using plug-ins. The major reason for most people opting QGIS is the availability of many easy reference guides available online for novice as well as advanced users.

Installing and using QGIS:

QGIS is a free software application, thus anyone can download and install the application on their desktop computer. They are also free to edit any data present in the application and can use both desktop and browser version for rendering data. Installing the application is very simple on a Windows operating system as you need to download and install only the installer (Mac users need to download a couple of other packages before installing the installer). These can be downloaded from the QGIS site.

Once installed, the full application is available for analyzing spatial data. There are various help tools available online in various forum sites where you can get all possible answers. But if you still find it difficult to find answers, post your questions in the various mailing lists where many experienced users give their answers. It is almost clear that most users downloading QGIS would want to create some sort of maps customized to their business needs. Hence, users will need to keep their thematic data ready which can then be visualized using the application.

This is where OSM comes into picture. Since OSM is open source, all data information can be downloaded for free. This is in contrast with Google maps, Apple maps, or ArcGIS.com since they are not open source and the information cannot legally be used for customization. Hence download OSM data and use it for your own business needs.

So now that we have given you some basic understanding on what QGIS is and how to install it, now is your chance to go try it. Since it is open source, you do not have any restrictions in downloading and using it during your free time. As and when you use the application, you should be able learn some new techniques that can be used for better mapping experience. Happy mapping!


GeoNB – the ‘All Things Geographic’ place for New Brunswick data

logo_GeoNB_globe

GeoNB – ‘All Things Geographic’ for New Brunswick data

Last year I featured GeoNB, New Brunswick’s approach to publicly available geographic information for the entire province of New Brunswick [see the previous article here if you missed it]. This valuable resource by Service New Brunswick provides a robust web mapping application, value-added products, various applications and extensive collection of open source data sets. Not to mention an outstanding web GIS application that stands out from others and one that earned them an Esri Canada Award of Excellence award last fall at the Esri User Conference in Fredericton.

GeoNB currently includes a wide variety of data sets for the entire province including digital topographic layers, orthophotos, property maps and much more. On top of having one of the best online mapping applications available they also provide access to download any of these digital data sets in a variety of formats for people to use in their own GIS software packages.

“Created by Service New Brunswick, GeoNB is a spatial data infrastructure (SDI) that uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to provide an efficient, collaborative and open data-sharing environment with key partners and users across the province.” [source: esri.ca]

geonb_portal

Over the past 4 years public usage of New Brunswick spatial data has increased significantly, with the average traffic to the site increasing from 5 thousand to over 13 thousand visitors every week. To meet the growing demand, they recently upgraded their geographic information gateway, building upon existing GeoNB initiatives and ensuring that residents of New Brunswick have easy access to geospatial information, pre-built maps and free online applications .

Basically the new site becomes the “All Things Geographic” place for New Brunswick’s geographic content consolidated and organized into one easy to use location. An initiative that helps encourage the creation of new geospatial products and solutions from geographic data that has been collected, maintained, and distributed using open data accepted standards. The new geographic portal is visually pleasing, well laid out making it easy to navigate and appeals to a wide audience. Everyone can take advantage of this free service from home owners that would like to know more about their property, developers seeking better sites for development, and those more advanced GIS users that want to use their own GIS software.

“Service New Brunswick has done exceptionally well in promoting the use of geographic knowledge for various applications through the province’s SDI,’ says Alex Miller, president, Esri Canada.” In a time when governments face greater financial constraints, they have created a cost-effective system for opening up valuable data and applications to benefit everyone. GeoNB serves as a model of intelligent government service delivery for others to follow.”
“GeoNB has quickly become a popular tool with the public because it’s easy to use and saves users valuable time and money,” notes Bernie Connors, SDI manager at Service New Brunswick. “It also eliminates duplicate efforts and additional costs for our partners through shared data and infrastructure.” [source: esri.ca]

There are some new geospatial applications that were designed to support various ongoing government programs including wetland conservation, flood damage reduction, protected areas management, as well as a coordinate transformation service that converts coordinates between datums and map projections. geonb_applications_smThere are 4 key sections that include the Data Catalogue, Applications, Map Products and the new GIS Developer’s Corner. Each section will continue to grow and develop with new datasets and tools as inferred by the GeoNB Action Plan.

The Data Catalogue contains over 35 different geographic datasets in a wide range of formats that are available to download free. Here they simplified things pretty well making data very easy to find. Using a table format they provide the name of the dataset, link to more info about it, thumb nails for quick view, date the data was created, formats available and links to download data. This will be the section that most GIS people looking for data where go to.

The Applications section provides access to over 10 custom designed applications that combine datasets and value-added functionality. These tools have a broad range of uses but have mainly been tailored to different intended users and include everything from the popular web map viewer (read more details about the map viewer here) and Coordinate Transformation Service to more specialised viewers aimed at those in Oil and Gas or Wetlands Mapping. Certainly worth a look if you are just curious about learning more about New Brunswick.

geonb_applications_flood_information

The Map Products section contains more pre-made value-added off the shelf mapping products such as static maps that have been generated to convey certain information. Again here they offer a broad range of products tailored to different intended users; but unlike most of the other products on the site, these are more traditional finished map products. This section will appeal more to those that need maps but do not have the ability to create their own.

The GIS Developer’s Corner is a place where people can leverage more geomatics technology and intelligence making use of some applications that allow them to go beyond the basic functionality such as using the open data sources as a live map service instead of downloading (this is one of the features that I like and now use when generating maps for area in New Brunswick). GeoNB utilizes ESRI ArcGIS Server and has made data available as ArcGIS Server map services to those that have the ability to take advantage of it.

logo_geonb_folder

So I am sure by now you get the idea. Once again the team at Service New Brunswick have done a great job promoting and increasing the use of geographic data and maps in New Brunswick. From a new easy to use new geographic portal (in both French and English) that provides people with plenty of data and a wide range of robust applications GeoNB continues to stand out among the rest. But again don’t just take my word about it, go over to the new portal your self, make use of some of the data and tools and let the folks at Service New Brunswick know they are doing a great job.

[Sources: http://www.esri.ca/en/content/new-brunswick-data-usage-increases-significantly-through-geonb – http://www.snb.ca/geonb1/e/index-E.asp – http://canadiangis.com/geonb-map-viewer-free-new-brunswick-digital-data-sets.php – and Service New Brunswick staff]


Canada Lands Digital Cadastral Data & Mapping Applications

Download Canada Lands Digital Cadastral Data

Canada Lands digital cadastral data is used to define internal and external boundaries of Canada Lands. Canada Lands are any federal Crown lands belonging to the Crown, that are situated in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or in any National Park or Indian Reserve, as defined by the Indian Act. For more specific info about check out Canada Lands see Surveys, Parcel and Tenure on Canada Lands by Dr. Brian Ballantyne.

Digital cadastral data of Canada Lands depicting the internal and external boundaries is managed by Natural Resources Canada, and is made available for public use in a variety of formats. Several pre-made mapping products related to Canada Lands are available, a Canada Lands Google Earth file, and Canada Lands digital cadastral data in CAD or GIS formats. Pre-made maps are provided in PDF format at National and regional scales.

Links to download Canada Lands digital cadastral datasets:

Canada Lands Mapping Applications

The Canada Lands overlay in Google Earth KMZ format, is a handy file providing information for boundaries and parcels of National Parks, Indian Reserves, National Parks and the territories and links to digital cadastral datasets and survey plans and related maps. The KMZ file is dynamic so only needs to be downloaded once, and automatically updates via the internet.

The Canada Lands Survey System online map browser is another application by Natural Resources Canada created to help locate digital cadastral datasets and survey plans of Canada Lands. The search tools included are great for finding survey plans and related maps related to internal and external boundaries of Canada Lands.

 


Canadian Pirate maps

Canadian Pirate maps - custom Pirate map of PEI

Where does one look when they want to find Canadian Pirate Maps?

Pirate maps are often hand drawn spatial representation on paper that mark locaions of buried treasues or important landmarks. Pirate maps ussually appear rough or tattered from being passed through time or simply being used in the rough elements, like on salt spray on the deck of a pirate ship. Most kids are familiar with pirate maps thanks to great works of fiction like “Treasure Island” and the legends of “Captain Kidd”, and theses days most kids most can relate pirates to thanks to Disney.

Canadian Pirate Maps

Now to be quite honest we do not actually have any real Canadian Pirate maps to share (although am sure that some exist, like maps the Oak Island treasure) but instead we have an online web mapping application to share that uses regular Google web maps but makes it appear to like pirate maps (like the map of Prince Edward Island above).

This mapping application operates just like regular Google maps, with the same navigational tools but instead adds a filter to the map to make it appear more rustic and adds some pirate themed symbology. You can navigate or search for any place in Canada and create a custom fun map that looks like a pirate map.

“Yarr, Pirate Maps is the greatest invenshun since iBones. It’s just like usin’ real google maps, but better – ‘cos everythin’ is all piratey and mappy.” yarrmaps.com

Now it may not be the most useful web mapping application, but it is always great to find ones this that helps make maps more fun.  Give it a try for your self …

 

 

Nova Scotia Online Maps & Mapping Resources

Data is a vital role in geomatics related projects and for many years we have been helping people find Canadian data resources. Here you will find a large list of Nova Scotia Mapping Resources …

Google now providing Google Earth Pro for Free

Download Google Earth Pro Free

Google Earth, a virtual 3D mapping and geographical information software package (originally known as EarthViewer 3D) provided free by Google has been one of the key elements over the past few years that has helped people become more aware of the geomatics industry.

These days you mention to anyone that you work with maps and most people will ask you if it is with Google?

With Google Earth, you can quickly scroll anywhere on the Earth using the virtual interactive spinning globe made up of various satellite and aerial imagery and zoom in to optimize your view with geographic information like maps, terrain data, 3D buildings and much more. Google Earth has become very popular and is used by a wide variety of end users from students to professionals. Most people are aware of the more common free downloadable version and may not even realize that Google has been selling an upgraded version with more features called Google Earth Pro.

The Google Earth Pro version contains all the features and the same imagery data sets as the regular Google Earth version does, but includes more advanced functionality such as the ability to measure 3D buildings, import GIS data, print high-resolution images, and create virtual flight simulated movies. Click here, for a complete list of added software functionality and available options in the Google Earth Pro version.

Until now users had to pay a fee to use the Pro version, but now users will be able to use Google Earth Pro for free, simply register for a Google Earth Pro licence key and download the software.

Prince Edward Island Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool

The province of Prince Edward Island has always been pretty good and open about making their PEI aerial photography available. They have an in house library in Charlottetown where prints and copies can be ordered as well as an online interactive web map service allowing users to search and download lower resolution versions of their aerial photography.

PEI Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool - PEI online map for aerial photosThe online initiative began shortly after the 2000/02 Corporate Land Use Inventory Project had completed. This extensive project involved creating orthophoto maps from over 16 thousand 1:17.5k false color infrared images.  The orthophotos were then tiled to match the provinces topographic map series and all land use of the island was updated using air photo interpretation and heads up digitizing.

The project was a large success and stirred fond interest from other government departments and the public leading to the scanning of historic photos from the provinces air photo library. An online map interface was then developed to help make it easier for users to search photos and the ability to download images was included for easier access. Electronic versions of the images on CD-ROM are available from the PEI Resource Inventory and Modeling section in Charlottetown (e.g. 34 CDs provide full coverage of the Province in the 2000 series).

PEI Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool - PEI online map for aerial photosSelecting a different air photo series of the left will change the points on the map to represent the flight lines of aerial surveys for that particular year. This tool is great for projects that involve historic work in the same area.

PEI Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool

The PEI online map application displays the collection of aerial photos that are available from a set as points on the interactive map. Then users can view a thumb-nail of any photo simply by double clicking on one of the map points. Larger version of the file can then be downloaded, images are in JPEG format (reduced in size by 25% from the in house scans), with download file sizes ranging from 2 to up to 10 mb.

Aerial photographs of Prince Edward Island are available for download from surveys of 1935, 1958, 1974 and 1990, 2000 & 2010. The type of imagery available depends on the aerial photo survey of that particular year, thus you will find that there are colour images, false colour infrared and black and white images.

The department has also gone ahead and generated some quick-search pages allowing users to browse Aerial Photographs by community if they do not wish to use the interactive map tool. So users can pick a community from the provided preset short-cut list to see a list of photographs available in that area.
PEI Aerial Photograph Interactive Map Tool - PEI online map for aerial photos - oblique air photo
For example you can click on Charlottetown and it will open up a page containing thumb nails with relevant photos for the Charlottetown area with links to download the corresponding image or open it up larger into your browser.

There is also a set of images on their interactive map tool of oblique aerial images of select places across the island that can be viewed similar to the way the traditional air photos are with the map tool.

The province of Prince Edward Island continues to do a great job at making their aerial photography available to the public and this interactive map tool is your key to finding aerial photography for anywhere in Prince Edward island that you can then use with ArcMap, MapInfo, Google Earth or any other GIS based software as well as other non GIS uses.

Prince Edward Island Interactive Map Tool can be found by following this link:  http://www.gov.pe.ca/maps/aerialphotos.php3


Leading Edge Geomatics now a DigitalGlobe Authorized Reseller

DigitalGlobe high resolution satellite image of Niagara Falls Canada

Leading Edge Geomatics now a DigitalGlobe Authorized Reseller

Leading Edge Geomatics, based out of New Brunswick has announced that they now can offer their valued clients access to DigitalGlobe’s extensive collection of high resolution satellite imagery. These readily-available detailed images can easily meet any project needs and help out on future projects.

Clients Leading Edge Geomatics, can enjoy a 20% discount until January 31st, 2015.

For more information, or a free quotation, please inquire with Leading Edge.