What Do Your Colleagues Think? Part 2

November 28, 2010  - By

In my last column, I presented the poll results from my November 16 webinar “A Buyer’s Guide to GPS/GIS Mapping Equipment.” I’ve conducted many webinars over the years, and the audiences have been comprised of hundreds (if not thousands) of participants who have the ability to ask questions and also participate on various polls I conduct during the webinars. This column continues the look back at previous polls conducted during the various webinars in 2010 to give you an understanding of what your colleagues are thinking.


August 31, 2010 Webinar: “Solar Activity, SBAS, and 24+3 GPS Constellation Updates”

Poll #1 (Aug. 31, 2010 webinar): How concerned are you about solar activity affecting your GNSS operations?

Gakstatter comment: These numbers don’t surprise me. Personally, I probably fall in the “Somewhat” category, but my GPS/GNSS field work is pretty flexible so I can easily adjust without much inconvenience. However, if I had several crews using GPS/GNSS on a daily or near-daily basis or I had equipment relying on GPS/GNSS, I think I’d be in the “Very” category because the $$ impact would be much higher.

Poll #2 (Aug. 31, 2010 webinar)If it was available, would you be interested in receiving alerts/warnings of solar activity that may affect GNSS operations?

Gakstatter comment: I’m not surprised at these results either. When I initially considered this poll, I was thinking about asking which type of platform you would prefer to receive alerts/warnings with the choices being Droid app, iPhone app, Blackberry app, text message, e-mail, etc. If you have a preference on that, fire off a quick e-mail to me. Secondly, a few of you pointed out that NASA has an app for this, but keep in mind that the system I’m considering is focused specifically on high-performance/precision GPS/GNSS users, which would eliminate a lot of the baggage of the alert/warning systems available today.

Poll #3 (Aug. 31, 2010 webinar): Do any of your GPS receivers use SBAS (WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS) as a primary source of corrections?

Gakstatter comment: Not much to say here except that a substantial number of commercial GPS users are relying on SBAS. This has definitely been the trend over the past five years.

Poll #4 (Aug. 31, 2010 webinar): Do you expect that the GPS 24+3 configuration will improve your GPS productivity?

Total votes: 172

Gakstatter comment: Like most of you, I have great expectations for the 24+3 configuration. While launching more satellites with L5 would be nice, that’s a long-term effort, whereas the 24+3 configuration is something we will benefit from in a few months and are seeing some marginal benefit now. In January 2011, once all the satellites have arrived at their destination slots, I’ll plot new visibility charts and see where we stand.

June 24, 2010 Webinar: “GIS Mapping for Forestry, Agriculture, and Other Natural Resource Professionals”

Poll #1 (June 24, 2010 webinar): What kind of mapping data do you primarily collect?

Gakstatter Comment: These results don’t surprise me. The only note I’d like to make is that some people collect point data in the field and then connect the points in the office to generate line and polygon data.

Poll #2 (June 24, 2010 webinar): Is having an aerial photo or satellite imagery in the background important?

Gakstatter Comment: Again, these results don’t surprise me. My feeling is that if imagery was easier to locate and integrate, nearly 100% of users would prefer them. The challenge is finding accessible, affordable imagery that is easy to integrate.

Poll #3 (June 24, 2010 webinar): How much are you willing to spend on a GPS receiver? I’m going to list the possible answers here because they don’t fit in the bar graph.

  1. $0 – No thanks.
  2. $200-500. I’m satisfied with 3-5 meter accuracy, limited use under forest canopy and limited data collection functionality.
  3. $500-1,500. I’m satisfied with 3-5 meter accuracy and limited use under forest canopy, but want more mapping data collection functionality.
  4. $1,500-$3,000.  I want a sub-meter accurate GPS receiver that will perform well under forest canopy and I’m willing do a little work to put together my own mapping system.
  5. $3,000-6,000. I want an out-of-the-box, sub-meter accurate GPS receiver that’s ready to go and works well under forest canopy.
  6. $6,000-10,000. I want a high-performance GPS receiver that will give me centimeter-level horizontal and vertical accuracy, but also work well under forest canopy (not centimeter-level).

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Gakstatter Comment: I was surprised at the number of respondents who selected the “high-end” system.

Poll #4 (June 24, 2010 webinar): Select the three most important features you need in mapping software. I’m going to list the possible answers here because they don’t fit in the bar graph.

  1. Ability to draw points, lines and polygons on your computer using a mouse.
  2. Ability to manage digital photos associated with features on the map.
  3. Ability to plot a professional-looking map.
  4. Ability to import aerial/satellite imagery.
  5. Ability to measure distances between points and calculate areas of features.
  6. Ability to import a wide variety of vector data (including GPS).

Gakstatter Comment: This is about what I expected. Of course, the ability to draw using a mouse is highly related to the ability to import imagery.

April 22, 2010 Webinar: “GPS, GLONASS, and SBAS Constellation Updates”


Poll #1 (April 22, 2010 webinar): Have you or your work crews had to stop or alter your work pattern due to the lack of GPS satellites?

Gakstatter comment: This is consistent with other polls I’ve conducted regarding GPS satellite availability. The great majority of you (73%) expressed that you have to adjust your work pattern due to lack of satellites. The new GPS 24+3 configuration will help mitigate this problem (and the new configuration is largely complete). Read more about the new GPS 24+3 configuration in a three-part series I wrote earlier this year.


Poll #2 

(April 22, 2010 webinar): How often do you upgrade your GPS equipment?


Gakstatter comment: There’s no clear pattern here except to say that 46% of the users wait until at least 3 years before they consider upgrading their GPS equipment. That makes sense to me.


Poll #3 

(April 22, 2010 webinar): Does any of your GNSS equipment utilize GLONASS?


Gakstatter comment: When considering the result of this poll, keep in mind that there are very few “mapping-grade” receivers that are designed to utilize GLONASS (but that is changing). For example, there are very few, if any, sub-meter receivers that utilize GLONASS, primarily due to the lack of correction sources. SBAS doesn’t support GLONASS, DGPS (radiobeacon) doesn’t support GLONASS, and most CORS do not support GLONASS. Only recently did OmniSTAR begin supporting GLONASS. I think this trend in mapping-grade receivers supporting GLONASS will continue, although I doubt that SBAS or DGPS (radiobeacon) will support GLONASS in the foreseeable future.

However, manufacturers have developed methods to utilize GLONASS measurements to augment GPS positioning without the need of an SBAS or DGPS correction.


Poll #4 (April 22, 2010 webinar): Does any of your GNSS equipment utilize SBAS (WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS) as a primary source of corrections?


Gakstatter comment: This poll result doesn’t surprise me. Given that SBAS corrections are widely available, free of charge, reasonably accurate, and require no action by the user, it makes a lot of sense they are being used.

February 18, 2010 Webinar: “GPS for GIS Data Collection — 101”


Poll #1 (February 18, 2010 webinar): Do you currently use GPS for collecting GIS data?



Gakstatter: No comment of significance. Sort of a dumb question now that I look at it again. Sorry 🙂


Poll #2 (February 18, 2010 webinar): What accuracy do you require in a GPS mapping system?


Gakstatter: I’ve asked this same question in more than one webinar. The
response from this particular audience, which was substantially GIS-oriented, was that sub-meter (33.1%) and cm-level (28.4%) were the most preferred levels of accuracy, with 1-3 meters accuracy at 22.3%.


Poll #3 (February 18, 2010 webinar): Select the three most important items to you in a GPS mapping system. 

Gakstatter: This was a multi-answer question with the top three answers clearly being; collecting attribute data (selected by 88.1%), accuracy (selected by 87.1%), and cost (selected by 71%).

Thanks, and see you next time.

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This article is tagged with and posted in Opinions, Survey

About the Author:

Eric Gakstatter has been involved in the GPS/GNSS industry for more than 20 years. For 10 years, he held several product management positions in the GPS/GNSS industry, managing the development of several medium- and high-precision GNSS products along with associated data-collection and post-processing software. Since 2000, he's been a power user of GPS/GNSS technology as well as consulted with capital management companies; federal, state and local government agencies; and private companies on the application and/or development of GPS technology. Since 2006, he's been a contributor to GPS World magazine, serving as editor of the monthly Survey Scene newsletter until 2015, and as editor of Geospatial Solutions monthly newsletter for GPS World's sister site Geospatial Solutions, which focuses on GIS and geospatial technologies.

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