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Introduction to Global Positioning Systems

Prerequisite: GEOG370 (Introduction to Geographic Information) or GEOG491 (Introduction to GIS).


The Global Positioning System and GIS
Michael Kennedy
Publisher info Taylor & Francis Inc, 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY10001
ISBN-13: 978-1420087994
ISBN-10: 1420087991

Course Descriptions:

The purpose of this course is to provide knowledge of modern geodetic reference systems, coordinate systems, fundamental GPS theory, GPS accuracy, position methods, application design, GPS data post processing, Urban GPS applications, as well as to gain hands on experiences of Geo-techniques for GPS data collection, urban mapping, etc. Besides these, students will also be exposed to other geo-technologies, such as integrating GPS applications with GIS, especially for urban mapping applications, writing SQL scripts, spatial database setup, etc.

Course Objectives:

After completing this course, student should have a profound understanding of GPS related theories (geodetic systems, map projections, GPS accuracy, etc.), and gain hand-on experiences on operating different GPS receivers (Trimble GeoExplorer, Garmin Dakota 20 and smart phone GPS applications). Here is a list of learning objectives:

(1) Understand and explain how GPS works
(2) Define and explain the current technical terminology associated with GPS
(3) Understand how errors occur and how to avoid them
(4) Design and plan a GPS project for a research, a GIS mapping project, etc.
(5) Use software (Trimble’s Quick Plan) to plan a GPS data collection session
(6) Use GPS hardware and software to collect geographic data in the field
(7) Use software (GPS pathfinder office) to do differential correction and other related post-processing
(8) User GPS hardware and software to conduct real-time differential correction
(9) Understand Location Based Service
(10) Geo-database design

Quizzes and ICAs – 10%

Midterm and Final Exam: (20% and 20%)

Labs (20%)

There will be eight labs. Each of them worth 25 points.

The lab exercises provide a way to acquire skills in using GPS hardware and software to apply the course concepts to spatial data collections.  Most labs require using GPS receivers.  Typically, we collect lab data during class time.  If you miss class for some extenuating circumstance then you may arrange to check out the receiver outside of class time.  However, scheduling this will be difficult and will require that you rearrange your schedule so you can use them when they are available.  I suggest that you do your very best to come to class so this is not an issue.

Project assignment (30%)

The project is intended to provide a deeper understanding of integration of GPS and GIS applications. In the final project, students will investigate a survey problem and use Trimble GPS hardware and Pathfinder Office software package to plan the project, collect and process the data. The class will acquire spatial data from the field and build a GIS database from them.  In the past, we have worked with UNC facility planning department GIS team and did several GPS projects with them, and we worked with Orange County Park Management to collect GPS data for Little River Regional Park. We updated many locational information such as hiking trails, kiosks, trail markers, trailheads, the gates, and some other geocaching locations within the park. In 2019-spring semester, we collaborated with NC botanical garden to survey trees in their conservation areas.

There are several stages to the project. They are:

Stage 1: Survey Planning- pre-survey visit to inventory site, identification of attributes to include in data dictionary, creation of data dictionary, division of labor into several survey teams, scheduling of survey using limited resources.

Stage 2: Survey work- collecting the raw geographic data.

Stage 3: Post-survey processing, GIS database creation, and integration of survey results of all teams into one GIS database, integration of inventory database with other spatial databases including air photos of the area.

Stage 4: Reporting – each team will write and present a short (5-7 pages) post-survey report that might be presented to colleagues and superiors in a work setting.  The report should include a description of the pre-survey planning, the survey itself, post-survey methods, and any problems that may have been encountered during the whole process.  The oral presentation of this report should be approximately 15 minutes and PowerPoint should be used to present the survey results.  Relevant cartographic output should also be included in the written and oral reports.