Mobile Mapping and High-Accuracy GPS Devices at Koochiching County Office of Land & Forestry
Assistant Land Commissioner, Koochiching County Office of Land & Forestry
Danae Schafer is the Assistant Land Commissioner at the Koochiching County Office of Land & Forestry in Minnesota. Among the responsibilities that have her spending about half of her time in the field, Schafer tests new technology before implementing it to the larger team of field workers which include loggers, and foresters. Recently, she tested the combination of Avenza Maps Pro for offline mobile mapping plus the Trimble TDC 600 handheld device for accurate GPS location.
Schafer and the other field workers perform a range of tasks for the county, ranging from marking and verifying boundary lines, inventorying timber stands and mapping roads and trails. This information is used by Schafer and the foresters to update master maps of the area and to create timber sale maps. The maps consist of aerial imagery with relevant data layers added in.
‘In the initial trial using TDC 600 and Avenza Maps Pro we were getting 2-3 ft accuracy which is fine for our work, and much better than an average smartphone is capable of.’ says Schafer. ‘It is nice to need only one, relatively small device that can do it all - location, data collection and with the accuracy we need.’
The combination of tools allows foresters and loggers to always use the most up-to-date maps which are regularly sent to them by email. Maps are imported into the Avenza Maps Pro app where they can be used offline for self-location, navigation and to add additional detail including waypoints, photos, lines and areas - all with the enhanced GPS accuracy of the TDC 600 device. When field teams return to a connected area, the collected data is exported, in Shapefile format, and used to create timber sale maps or sent back to Schafer who updates the master maps.
‘TDC 600 and Avenza Maps Pro are very user-friendly which was important because our field staff vary in their level of comfort with technology.’ says Schafer. ‘After seeing how easy both are to use, we will be adding more devices in the future.’