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Technology on the March – Living with Continental Drift

AUG16_Cont_Drift_01 Aug16_Cont_Drift_02

For most us, continental drift has been no more than a scientific curiosity. That is about to change as it impacts the way we use our GPS devices to describe real world locations.

Industry old timers will remember the transition from AGD66 to GDA84 as Australians synchronised their model for the shape of the earth to match that of the GPS constellation. For a brief time around 1984, the coordinates shown on our maps exactly matched those we read on our GPS. That is no longer the case.

Continental drift is as old as the earth. Gondwanaland split up millions of years ago as South Africa, Australia and Antarctica went their separate way. While we rarely get the 5 metres of horizontal movement observed the day after the 2011 Japanese tsunami, the continents are in constant motion.

Aug16_Cont_Drift_03As there is no reliable fixed point for the GPS constellation to reference, readings for all satellited based positioning systems (including GPS) are adjusted to the average of around 800 ground stations that make up the International Terrestrial Reference Framework.

Since 1984, Australia has been moving at around 7cms a year relative to the average of other locations in the network.

The earth will move as it wishes. The only way to lock our maps with the Global Positioning Network is to update the maps. That is where GDA2020 comes in. GDA 2020 locks our mapping datum to where we expect the Australian continent to be in 2020. For maps that user the GDA2020 datum, the displacement between map locations and GPS coordinates will be no more than about 20 cm between 2017 and 2035. That is within the error of all but the very best GPS receivers.

Potential positioning errors of a few meters is what we have learned to live with from our consumer mobile devices. That will change over the coming years as vendors continue to invest in positioning technology and new satellite constellations climb into the sky.

The good news is that software like Konect works with the standard Location Services module of modern mobile devices and will automatically adapt to the expected improvements in Satellite Positioning systems. Konect will provide the best location fix available from your device, whether that comes from GPS constellation or a combination of a dozen other satellite constellations that are on line or soon will be. We can start using GDA2020 as soon as cartographers convert our maps. Plotting locations on mobile maps will then become a whole lot easier and more accurate.

For more information about GDA2020, see http://www.icsm.gov.au/gda2020/faqs-2.html

Out and About – ‘The World We Walk In’


Ken Moule from Global GBM will speak at the SEGRA conference in Albany in October. SEGRA stands for Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia and the conference is well supported by Local Government Organisations across Australia and the Federal Department of Regional Development.


Ken’s presentation builds on experiences gained in developing the Geotourism Brisbane App in partnership with the Geological Society of Australia. The original geotourism concept has now grown to embrace multiple themes of interest that include Ecotourism, Agritourism, Cultural Heritage, Experiential travel and many other.

Because we don’t normally travel with a team of specialist tour guides, we often walk across the land with no knowledge of the depth of interest available. In association with stakeholders across the country, Global GBM will be developing a national coverage of visitor information that will focus on the wonders of our natural environment.

Konect will be adapted to allow Local Government and Community groups to easily enter local content. This will be consolidated into a central database to support self-guided tours across the nation. A visitor will scribe a region of interest and a select a number of information themes to automatically customise their personal visitor experience.

The economic driver is from various regions who wish to showcase their natural environment to encourage visitors to spend a little longer in their part of the country.

For more information about participating in this exciting venture, e-mail ken@globalgbm.com.

Development News – Konect Keeps Getting Better

IMG_5013_GIMPedOur Australian-based support and development team continue to add features and refine our Konect Mobile Workforce platform. In our June update we announced Off-line Operation, Advance Linking and User Roles as new features.

Since then we have been building tools to make it easier to integrate Konect with a range of external business processes. It’s now easy to export selected records to Excel or GIS files, edit those in external software and merge selected changes back into the Konect database.

We have also added new drawing tools so both field crews and supervisors can add annotations and explanation text to photographs.

The team has also recently built tools to allow users to share forms and projects with other organisations. We are trailing this now with the Konect Weeds Pack and will include it in our updated September release. At this time we will be inviting customers to showcase their success stories by publishing sets of forms on the Konect website to share with other operators in their sector. This will foster our Konect user communities where customers can share their experiences in delivering better and improved outcomes for their business.

Call us if you would like to preview these new features or if you have a project with special requirements. Our development team are only too happy to work with you. Want to know more about Konect, please e-mail harvey@globalgbm.com and to discuss any Konect development plans then e-mail ken@globalgbm.com

Customer News – Konect Welcomes New Customers

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Our Konect mobility service has well and truly grown up to become a fully featured solution for any organisation with personnel who spend all or part of their day outside the office.

In the past month we have welcomed new customers across many business sectors. Significant Konect customers include;

–          Savco Vegetation Services (Vegetation Management)

–          Ecosure (Environmental Inspections)

–          Banyule Shire Council (Local Government)

–          Kingsborough Council (Local Government)

–          Whanganui Council (NZ local Government)

–          NT Department of Communications and Information Services (Road Inspections and Maintenance)

–          Programmed Property Services (Contracting Services)

–          Optus/Ladcom (Telecommunications)

–          Horticulture Innovations Australia (Crop Monitoring)

August 23, 2016
by gbm_site_admin
Comments Off on Getting the Job Done – Weed Mapping with Konect


Weeds have a major impact on global agriculture and on our natural environment. In Australia alone weeds cost farmers around $1.5 billion a year in weed control activities and a further $2.5 billion in lost agricultural production

Most jurisdictions stipulate management plans for aggressive weeds. In New South Wales, Local Government Organisations are required to detect significant weeds and ensure they are managed in accordance with guidelines of Noxious Weeds Act.

Councils are responsible for notifying landholders of their obligations and reporting observations in electronic form suitable for direct upload to the central biosecurity database.

In partnership with key Local Government Stakeholders, we have developed the Konect Weeds Pack to manage compliance with the NSW legislation and in particular the August deadline for electronic reporting. The pack includes subscriptions for the Konect service, pre-developed data collection forms and on-boarding support to fast-track operational set-up.

Organisations currently implementing the Konect Weeds pack include Bourke, Cabonne, Western Plains, Cobar, Naromine and Tamworth Councils with a number in the wings. Special thanks to Melissa Gunn of Cobar Council who has been instrumental in tailoring the solution and also to the numerous other stakeholders who have provided valuable insights into their operational needs.

To learn more about the Konect Weeds Pack, e-mail Harvey@globalgbm.com for the schedule of upcoming webinars.

Free Trials and Specials for Mobile Workforce Software

konect price list


To get started with konect consider registering for a free trial or better still take advantage of the introductory special to run a production pilot.

The introductory special provides all the software you need to complete a risk free trial in your mobile workforce. Risk free because it comes with a 60 day money back guarantee and includes assistance from our consulting team to get your project started.

As a special concession to our newsletter readers, we will take a further $260 off the already discounted price so you can run five mobile devices for a year for only $1,800 plus GST. We are extending this offer until the end of May.

Be sure to mention this newsletter when you register your order through the konect website to lock in the special discount.

Visit https://konect.today/plans-trial to take the next step.

GPS Accuracy and Location Services for Mobile Mapping

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We all expect good GPS performance from our mobile phones. Sometimes we forget the technology became operational as recently as 1995 and continues to evolve.

GPS came from the US military that originally degraded accuracy for civilian use to around 250 metres. Deliberate inaccuracies were turned off in 2000, heralding a golden age of reliable location positioning. GPS Satellites

The US satellites have been joined by constellations from Russia (GLONASS), Europe (Galileo position system), India, China and Japan. There are now more than 70 operational satellites and the number will grow to more than 200 in the coming years. Modern devices now listen for all these satellites, so the term Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) is more correct than GPS.

The extra satellites are a real boost in those locations where part of the sky is obstructed by mountains or tall buildings. With multiple satellite constellations, errors in calculating the distance from individual satellites can be averaged out to give a more reliable fix.

Consumer devices are usually accurate to within 3 or 5 metres. Companies like Trimble and Leica now offer hand-held devices that claim accuracies as good as 5 cm. Many factors affect this accuracy.

The antenna on smartphones and tablets is commonly the size of a paper clip and suffers from poor signal to noise ratio compared to professional level devices. High end devices often boast antennas in the 6 to 20 cm size range.High power GPS - both images

High accuracy not only requires a large antenna but also needs corrections for the atmospheric conditions along the path from each satellite to our ground location. This is the domain of Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) that stream a correction signal calculated by continuously monitoring terrestrial reference stations.

But when you think you have it all sorted out – the ground moves.

The Australian plate is moving north-east relative to the rest of the world. That adds an error of 7 centimetres for every year since we aligned our GDA94 datum to that used by the GPS constellation in 1994. The error will accumulate to around 1.8 metres by the time we replace GDA94 in the year 2020.

Errors of a few metres are not important for today’s personal navigation systems, but they will become critical for driverless cars and for relocating buried services. As the demand for higher location accuracy grows, we can expect to see technologies from high end commercial systems arrive on our mobile phones. Dual frequency receivers will adjust for atmospheric conditions and electronics will account for continental drift in real-time.

It is not all about GNSS. In the absence of a good satellite signals, modern devices fall back to triangulating a location from phone towers or local Wi-Fi signal sources. Accuracy varies depending on the relative location of those transmitters.

Modern mapping systems like konect indicate the accuracy of a location fix by drawing an error circle around the calculated location.

Quite often our devices will show a large error circle when they first start up and subsequently reduce that radius. Cell phone triangulation quickly delivers a low accuracy fix, which then seeds calculations by the satellite system. This is Assisted GPS (A-GPS) at work. GPS/GNSS fixes are invariably of higher accuracy but are not always available and the time to first fix can be slower than for other methods.

Fortunately it is now not as important for end-users to understand location calculations as it was when the technology was newer. Modern systems like konect will always use the best quality location report the device provides and give the user feedback on its absolute accuracy.

Most importantly, konect posts location reports directly on a map so users can validate them in the field. Misplacement between map and GNSS locations can arise from either errors in the map or inaccuracies in the satellite fix.

In either case, if you are marking a location for a subsequent team to re-visit, it can make a lot of sense to move the location to what appears to be the right map positon. For field services, Relative Accuracy (accuracy relative other features of interest) can be more important than Absolution Accuracy (correctness of the latitude/longitude values).

Satellite navigation is a disruptive technology that has changed the way we do things. Buckle up – there are many more innovations in the pipeline.


Konect wins GITA Award of Excellence at Locate 16 Conference


GITA award - people and award

An innovative konect project was presented with the Australia and New Zealand Award of Excellence by the Geospatial & Information Technology Association (GITA) at the Locate 16 conference earlier this month.

GITA is the professional association for anyone using geospatial technologies to manage, operate, plan and develop infrastructure. GITA president Wanda Skerrett and Director Antoine Burdett presented the award to Ken Moule at the conference dinner.

This prestigious award was for a joint project involving Global GBM and the Northern Territory Department of Corporate and Information Services (DCIS). The project automated field and office workflows around road inspections and maintenance works using konect.

Previous Winners have included – Telstra (2010), Water Corporation (2011), PSMA (2012), Atherton Tablelands GIS (2013), Western Power (2014) and AECOM/Origin Energy (2015).

Global GBM thanks GITA for running the award competition. We thank the DCIS project team for the enthusiasm and professionalism that made this project successful.

It was fitting that the Award was presented at the Locate 16 conference whose theme was Disruptive Technologies for a Smarter Society. The award brings focus on konect’s innovative map driven workflow and its potential to revolutionise business for any organisation that has personnel who work outside the office.

konect builds on new disruptive technologies around mobile devices, wireless data, cloud databases and geospatial services. konect holds its place in the geospatial industry because of a unique map driven field workflow that provides field crews with the operational context that helps them quickly locate work sites and assimilate important information about their surroundings.

See www.konect.today for further information.