Transforming the way the world works

Putting GPS To Work



"Where is everything else?"

It's a big world out there, and using GPS to survey and map it precisely saves time and money in this most stringent of all applications. Today, Trimble GPS makes it possible for a single surveyor to accomplish in a day what used to take weeks with an entire team. And they can do their work with a higher level of accuracy than ever before.

Trimble pioneered the technology which is now the method of choice for performing control surveys, and the effect on surveying in general has been considerable. You've seen how GPS pinpoints a position, a route, and a fleet of vehicles. Mapping is the art and science of using GPS to locate items, then create maps and models of everything in the world. And we do mean everything. Mountains, rivers, forests and other landforms. Roads, routes, and city streets. Endangered animals, precious minerals and all sorts of resources. Damage and disasters, trash and archeological treasures. GPS is mapping the world.

For example, Trimble GPS helped fire fighters respond with speed and efficiency during the 1991 Oakland/Berkeley fire to plot the extent of the blaze and to evaluate damage. In a less urgent yet equally important situation, the city of Modesto, California improved their efficiency and job performance by using GPS and mountain bikes to create a precise map of its network of water resources and utilities.

The Oakland Fire

The devastating fire that took many lives and destroyed 2700 structures is now a sad memory. But there's a positive part of the story that will also be remembered: the role that Trimble GPS played in determining the extent of the blaze and damage.

Oakland fire captain Ron Carter requested Trimble's help at the onset of the fire. Skirting the fire by helicopter, the response team used a Trimble Pathfinder to record their location once each second, plotting the entire blaze in approximately one hour. Minutes later a transparency of the fire's perimeter was laid over a standard area map, and the first reliable map of the fire was created.

The next day another Trimble team arrived on site and began the somber task of assessing the damage. The group mapped 2,000 acres and 2,000 homes in three hours, a job the U.S. Forest Service expected to take a week. "We looked for driveways and entered the coordinates," said one team member. "There wasn't anything else left to go by."

Not only did Trimble workers and equipment play an important role in fighting the fire by creating the first accurate map of the conflagration, their work was also instrumental in speeding aid to fire victims as well. And because of the precise records of the damage, fire victims were able to receive financial aid quickly.

"It would have been incredible if the ground commanders had GPS during the fire," said Manuel Navarro, Battalion Chief. "Because of the smoke you couldn't tell which way was north or south. If there had been positioning devices on our apparatus when this thing blew up, we would have known exactly where all our equipment was deployed and that would have helped us fight the fire much more efficiently."

Mixing Business with Exercise

Imagine you're in charge of a city's water utility. Now imagine your responsibility includes keeping track of 750 miles of pipeline, 65,000 water services, 2,500 water meters, 100 wells, 6,500 fire hydrants, and several thousand water valves in a city where 54,000,000 gallons of water are consumed on a hot summer day. The city's residents, repair crews, and emergency service providers are depending on you for accurate maps of all these liquid assets so they can be sure to have water when and where they need it.

This city is Modesto, California, and a group of savvy civil engineers found a solution with GPS. Retrofitting mountain bikes with Trimble Pathfinder ProXL receivers gave them quick, easy, and accurate data to map the 37.5 square miles of Modesto's water system. All the lines, valves, meters, and hydrants were surveyed and mapped, then integrated with the city's CADD base map resulting in a comprehensive map that combined streets, property lines, addresses, rivers, canals, and rail systems with the water utility data.

And when the project was over, Modesto discovered a savings of over 40% of the budgeted amount. All this and a little exercise, too.