GIS Tech News (#69)

3 Nov, 2008

GIS-GPS Device Proving Field-Worthyp>

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers enlists the ike 504 to collect geographic coordinates from a distance.

By Andrew Roe

Andrew Roe

Collection of geospatial information in hazardous or inaccessible locations has become much easier in recent years, thanks to advancing technologies in GPS, laser distance measuring, and digital photography. The integration of multiple technologies in one device is now enabling soldiers and civilians to determine geographic coordinates at remote targets up to 1,000 meters away.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been one of the chief adopters of the ike 504 device by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), headquartered in Columbia, Maryland. The device integrates a military-grade GPS receiver, digital camera, inclinometer, compass, and laser distance meter in a 2.6-pound unit.

The Corps' Engineering Infrastructure and Intelligence Reachback Center (EI2RC), based in Mobile, Alabama, has used the ike in collecting assessment data for various branches of the military worldwide and in hurricane relief efforts in the United States. The Corps has found the device's "standoff" capability, or the ability to collect geographic coordinates at a distance, a key feature while collecting data in potentially hazardous areas and areas ravaged by hurricanes.

"The standoff capability of the handheld ike device is the reason why the ike unit was chosen over other GPS products," said Lynn Hardegree, the Corps' program manager of the Geospatial Assessment Tool for Engineering Reachback (GATER) program, a combination of software applications and business processes that support the EI2RC in geospatial data collection efforts.

Because the ike incorporates a Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system and ArcPad from ESRI, users can customize the ike interface using an optional software development kit, a feature the Corps has employed extensively. The Corps and its contractors have developed data collection forms that run on top of ArcPad on the ike device. The forms correspond to various modules of the GATER program, including critical infrastructure, real estate/lease, environmental conditions, access/entry control points, special operations weather, explosive ordnance disposal, civil affairs, bridge reconnaissance, and construction project monitoring. Custom applications can be developed in embedded Visual Basic or C++ environments. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Andrew G. Roe is a licensed civil engineer and president of AGR Associates. He is also the author of Using Visual Basic with AutoCAD, published by Autodesk Press. E-mail him at


Event Report: Leica Geosystems High-Definition Surveying Conference

By Kenneth Wong

The presentations and conversations overheard at Leica Geosystems HDS and Airborne Sensor Worldwide User Conference indicated high-definition surveying (HDS) is dramatically reshaping the function of the surveyors. Now, equipped with a portable device that lets them capture a highway intersection or an archeological site as a 3D scene in point clouds with unprecedented speed and accuracy, surveyors have become the custodians of a vast amount of as-built data, a new role that offers both optimism and uneasiness. Along with business opportunities come new questions: How do you market the new deliverables to your clients? How do you repackage the deliverables to offer the best value to your clients? In what types of projects does HDS offer the most benefit?

On Monday, October 27, enthusiasts, practitioners, and beneficiaries of the technology streamed into the Marriott Hotel in San Ramon, California, to trade business cards, share tips, and recount war stories.

A New Kind of Surveying
Survey equipment maker Leica's HDS product family, which was on display outside the conference room last week, includes the Leica ScanStation 2 and Leica HDS6000. ScanStation 2 is described as a machine with an integrated high-resolution camera, a patented microchip-driven laser that delivers accurate distance measurement, and a dual-axis level compensator for traversing and stakeout jobs. It reportedly can operate "up to 10 times faster than other pulsed scanners."

The HDS6000 is described as the next-generation, phase-based laser scanner, capable of processing laser returns up to 79 meters and detecting laser returns from dark and oblique surfaces. It is designed to deliver higher accuracy, scan density, and longer ambiguity interval with less noise. Read more »

Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events

Geospatial Applications and Solutions: A Working Model
November 12, 2008
Adelaide, Australia
IMAGINiT Australia will host this geospatial industry briefing. Topics will include geospatial technologies, national solutions, and integration. Read more »

Best Practices for Developing Geographic Information Models
November 17, 2008
Issaquah, Washington
This WAURISA workshop will explore the use of database templates and the relationship between map layers and geographic database objects. Read more »

Cadalyst's complete list of upcoming events is always available on our Web site. Our sister Web site,, also offers a full calendar of GIS-related events.