Monday, July 6, 2015

LightSquared and GPS – Chapter 2

Many of you probably remember the hubbub about LightSquare and their technology’s interference with GPS receivers. LightSquared initially launched in 2010 to build a nationwide wireless LTE network other companies could use to offer their own services to customers. 

LightSquared entered bankruptcy protection in May 2012 after the FCC revoked its conditional license to operate due to concerns that LightSquared's planned LTE-based network in the L-band would interfere with GPS receivers. The company is now emerging from bankruptcy and taking another run at it

And it seems there has already been a first shot across the bow from LightSquared aimed the GPS Innovation Alliance.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Apple's GPS bug resolved

We just received word from Bad Elf that the new Apple iOS 8.4 release has fixed the bug that prevented most external GPS accessories from providing location data. The bug was introduced about 2 months ago in iOS 8.3.While that is a relief to many of our partners and customers that this bug from Apple was fixed, unfortunately they did not fix the bug we are experiencing with iOS not allowing our GeoJot+ app to edit data in the field. The latest beta of iOS 9 doesn’t either.

But there is always silver lining. While creating a workaround for Apple’s bugs, we are changing where we store photos on Apple devices, this will have the fringe benefit of simplifying some of data management on iPhones and iPads, particularly for people who take hundreds of photos per day. We are working on testing the new version of GeoJot+ now and we will let you know as soon as it is released! If you are interested in testing out the beta version, please let us know.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pole data collection using laser rangefinders with smartphones and tablets

Height sticks and measuring wheels are antiquated tools for pole data collection. Advances in measurement technology now exist that allow for improved productivity in both the field and the office. Part of the equation is the smartphone in every inspector's pocket. It is always ideal when you can utilize hardware that everyone already owns and knows how to use.

When you link a smartphone or tablet with a laser rangefinder for pole inspections and joint-use pole audits, companies can save time, reduce costs and increase the accuracy of the data collected.

Learn more about how you can use the GeoJot+ app running on your mobile device with an LTI laser rangefinder for pole inspections and joint use pole audits.



Android for Work - Updated

We see that smaller companies like small contractors are comfortable having their employees use their personal phones to collect work data using GeoJot+. However, mid to large size companies and many government agencies seem to be more reluctant and have more security concerns about BYOD.

Android for Work creates a secure Work Profile isolating and protecting data and managing the flow of sensitive work information. Employees can use approved work apps right alongside their personal apps while IT can manage business data on all the Android devices.

It falls out nicely that it is mid to large size companies who would feel it is necessary to have functionality that separates a work profile from a personal profile on a phone or tablet, because it looks like you will need an IT person to get everything set up but it is good to see the mobile OS providers realizing that this issue needs to be addressed. Check out this whitepaper on additional security in Android for Work.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Collecting ADA compliance data on a budget

ADA compliance requirements were originally put into law in 1990 and updated in 2010. However, because the mandate was not coupled with funding, many local governments did not gather compliance documentation until the Justice Department required the initial compliance transition plans by the end of 2012. 

Without funding, cities and counties were left to find their own innovative ways to collect the federally required data without breaking their budgets. Given that everyone has a smartphone and/or tablet these days, local municipalities were looking for simple solutions that could use the hardware that people already own and know how to use. See how these cities used GeoJot+ to solve their problems.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Free photo storage and search capabilities for everyone!

Google Photos has arrived. The new service unveiled at the Google developer’s conference last week is likely to be a huge hit. First, it allows you to back up all your photos for free. There is an app for both your computer and your smartphone to further simplify your life. There are a couple details to be aware of – your photos must be under 16mp and they will be just slightly compressed. I think I can live with that for free photo storage.

Not only is the storage free, but Google also provides advanced search functionality for all those photos and videos. It can automatically categorize the photos based on contents and has face recognition functionality.

And why, might you ask, would Google provide all this for free? The same reason they always provide things for free. He who controls the spice controls the universe. There is a great deal of information that can be mined from all of our photos. And while they aren’t discussing how they will eventually monetize the service, you would have to guess that all those photos of your baby will lead to more ads appearing for diapers and the cutest infant clothing. Or if the baby photos were taken in 1999, perhaps the ads will be coming from car companies and universities.

While that can be a little creepy, I suppose if I am getting ads appearing in my searches, I would actually prefer that the ads are for things that are relevant to me. Is this a step in direction of more perfect information or just too much information? I guess we will find out.

I am guessing that none of our government agency clients will be using this service. But it will be interesting to see if any of our non-government customers will take the plunge. I would think for most companies a few hundred dollars a year to store your GPS photos is worth the added privacy. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I remember when GPS was only available in the 10lb size that fit in a backpack. I also remember when GPS was all but useless without post-processing for differential correction. How times have changed.  We all take for granted now that GPS will be in the smartphones that have become our lifeline, but even that is relatively new. When we first started researching phones to create our GeoJot+ app, not all cellphones were smartphones and not all smartphones had GPS chips. However, we knew a change was coming. By September 11. 2012, all wireless service providers in the US were going to be required to supply precise location information for 9-1-1 calls.

So most people have taken for granted that their smartphones have GPS for the last couple of years. And the more people used it, the more it became a selling point for phones and the more it was refined. Many cell phones now, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 or the iPhone6 have both GPS and A-GPS. A-GPS (Assisted GPS) uses cell phone towers is often used when you first start up your GPS because it has faster fix times. It also may work better inside buildings or in urban canyons (when there are a lot of tall building). GPS is a satellite-based navigation system developed by the US government. This GPS option on a cell phone uses the satellite signals and does not need cell phone towers. While it tends to use more battery power, it also tends to yield more accurate locations outside of urban areas.

In the past few years, additional satellite system have become available to general public. Many phones can now use GLONASS satellites. GLONASS is similar to GPS but is operated by the Russian Government. Recently some phones have even started picking up satellites from the Chinese satellite system that is currently being refined.

3-5 meter accuracy is now the standard for any hardware that boasts GPS capabilities. And the more sophisticated standalone GPS units such as those from Juniper and Trimble can now offer < 1 meter accuracy in real time without post-processing and centimeter accuracy post processed. It makes you wonder … what’s next? Cost does vary with accuracy which also should make you wonder, what accuracy do I really need for my project?