A Civil Engineer's guide to GPS and GNSS

The use of GPS and GNSS are becoming ever more prevalent for many professions and civil engineering is no exception. This briefing note aims to provide some background information for civil engineers on GNSS through concentrating on the basic technology, issues and applications of GPS.

Use of GPS and GNSS technology on motorway resurfacing project.
Use of GPS and GNSS technology on motorway resurfacing project.

The use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and other developing Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) is expanding exponentially.

An engineer using their GPS
An engineer using their GPS

Current and future utilisation, research, and application developments are becoming key to most walks of life and hence prevalent within government, commercial industry, research communities as well as for the citizen. The ability to accurately locate and relocate, to navigate and track and to synchronize data streams has made this a technology that we all utilise, whether we are aware of it or not.

Current GNSS drivers within the engineering community are to improve efficiency, to provide better customer service, to enhance health and safety provision and as an aid to meet industry regulation. Augmenting GNSS devices with other positioning tools (whether they be ground penetrating radar, inertial devices, lasers, tachographs, etc) can provide a total solution when they are appropriately combined together.

This paper aims to provide some background information on GNSS through concentrating on the basic technology, issues and applications of GPS; as well as view to the future of GNSS.

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