The casual use of satellite-based positioning has proliferated, with GPS now readily available in mobile phones and cars. Most GPS receiver chips in such devices can achieve an accuracy of just two to three meters, which is far less accurate than professional-grade devices. Consumer- grade devices lack the ability to provide quality assurance details or metadata about position so that you can’t be sure with confidence that the positions that you collected are correct. When lower-end accuracy is used for data collection, what also gets lost is the utility of high-accuracy position, and the kinds of insight that are revealed only at higher accuracies.
Businesses increasingly understand that spatial awareness of workers, assets and processes can lead to much greater efficiencies. But the best enterprise-wide information system can be sabotaged by data that is not accurate enough. The bottom line of ‘garbage in, garbage out’ is as relevant today as it was when the first database was invented. Poor positional accuracy, and in some cases wrong positions, degrade the utility of your systems, and can even result in costly errors.
Given the benefit of greater accuracy, the trend across the GIS and mapping arena is toward higher accuracy data collection. This began with aerial and satellite imagery as pixels the size of a meter squared rapidly improved to the 50 cm range. Similarly, we have high-speed LiDAR collection tools that capture large areas at 5 to 10 cm accuracy. We’re now entering a realm where highly portable handheld devices can achieve accuracy that was once only possible with survey-grade tools.
The improved portable high-accuracy capability is potentially a game changer. It puts high precision into the hands of a greater percentage of the workforce, which can improve the quality of spatial information in an organization to unlock new efficiencies and insight.
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