Low-cost, easy-to-use, 2-3 meter accuracy data collector expected to significantly expand GPS-based collection of GIS data.

Thales Navigation today introduced MobileMapper, a handheld GPS-based geographic information system (GIS) data collector that sets a new standard for GIS data collection. At one-third the cost of competing systems, yet with 2-3 meter accuracy, direct download capability and consumer-like usability, MobileMapper is expected to dramatically expand the number of users who will now turn to GPS-based data collection for asset management and field mapping. MobileMapper enables users to locate and describe features being mapped and then easily and quickly upload the data to a GIS.

The MobileMapper system is composed of two main elements: the MobileMapper handheld receiver and MobileMapper Office software for use on a PC. The system is designed to handle a wide range of mobile GIS and mapping applications for the field workforce within local government, utilities, telecommunications, natural resources and a host of other industries and organizations where management and mapping of field assets is desired.

“Thales Navigation uniquely offers complete lines of GPS solutions to recreational users and survey and mapping professionals, among other businesses,” said Neil Vancans, general manager of Thales Navigation’s Professional Products Business Unit. “MobileMapper combines our industry-leading expertise in both the recreational consumer and survey and mapping fields to bring to market a product specifically designed for the largest segment of the GIS data collection market – people who need to collect and format GIS data with 2-3 meter accuracy, but have been constrained by the high cost of this accuracy. This constraint has meant they either do without, use an ill-suited low-cost recreational system, or a budget-busting high-end system. At $1,495 MobileMapper will enable many more types of field personnel to collect and use GIS data.”

MobileMapper Features
Unlike recreational GPS receivers sometimes used for GIS data collection, MobileMapper provides a data capture system that eliminates manual data entry and permits direct download via either a secure data card (SD) or serial connection to major GIS office software systems. The direct download capability of MobileMapper can be expected to halve the time it takes to deliver data to the GIS system compared to recreational GPS devices. Its easy-to-operate, real-time direct-to-digital data collection capability enables users to easily record features and characteristics and distinguish between layers of data. Its full-color screen provides vivid viewing even in full sunlight. In addition, MobileMapper has an easy-to-use, built-in navigation and reference capability, enhanced by the easy uploading of background maps for all of North America and most of Europe.

“MobileMapper is easy to set up and provides a simple interface that users can learn to operate very quickly. There’s nothing intimidating about using MobileMapper. Because MobileMapper is both affordable and easy to use, it will be particularly appealing to a wide variety of users and those for whom data collection is an occasional task and not a full-time activity,” said Vancans. MobileMapper enables a true two-way flow of data. It not only can be used to position and describe new GIS features (field to office) but also to easily update information previously gathered (office to field) . Field crews equipped with MobileMapper containing downloaded GIS data can navigate in the field and easily update the data on things that change over time: for example, where streetlights bulbs are burned out and/or replaced, new roads added in a development, and new crops are planted.

MobileMapper includes a grid mapping utility that offers an easy way to log GPS positions and GIS data waypoints arranged in an evenly spaced grid. The utility provides a convenient method to collect at specified intervals field observations, such as soil samples and measurements made by field sensors such as depth sounders, chemical detectors and magnetometers.

MobileMapper Office
MobileMapper Office is the office software tool loaded on a PC that lets the MobileMapper receiver interface with the GIS. It permits the entry of GIS jobs including feature libraries and waypoint files, the building of background maps from GIS data fields and management of information logged in the field. MobileMapper Office exports and imports GIS formats as either shp., dxf. or mif. files.