GNSS solutions for underground asset mapping

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GNSS technology can unlock solutions for underground asset mapping while improving efficiency and accuracy.

Peter Terret

Mapping underground utility assets such as water, gas, electricity, and communications networks has been a critical task for infrastructure planning and maintenance for decades. Mapping is essential to keep construction crews safe, avoid service disruptions, and prevent damage to infrastructure.

Historically, underground utility assets have often not been accurately mapped in coordinate systems. Hiring a surveyor with the expertise and equipment is expensive. Instead, the centerline of a pipe or cable was measured as the distance from fence corners, property boundaries, curbs, utility poles, etc. Thankfully, there are now other solutions to help seasoned utility detectors locate most assets, including radio detectors, magnetometers, metal detectors, high frequency microwaves, and acoustic systems.

However, recent innovations have made it possible for even unqualified operators to accurately map underground assets. The equipment is simple, but requires some training as different correction services may have different datums. This means that even with high accuracy, the actual coordinates may be in a different location than your asset management system or his GIS.

GNSS technology has emerged as a powerful tool for accurately and efficiently mapping these assets. In particular, smaller, more powerful, more accurate, lighter, and easier-to-use receivers are now available. Recent enhancements include moving from GPS-only (one constellation) to GNSS (4 or more constellations), dramatically improving performance and accuracy, especially in harsh environments. increase. GPS alone showed an average of 9 satellites, but GNSS averages more than 40, increasing the geometric strength of the position solution. Also, with increased cell phone coverage, GNSS users can now access his CORSNet in more locations.

Enhanced GNSS receivers such as the Eos-GNSS Arrow (available from 4D Global) now have access to a new Australian/New Zealand satellite-based augmentation system known as SouthPAN. SouthPAN provides wide Australian and New Zealand sub-metric accuracy free of charge for compatible L1 (single frequency) and multi-frequency receivers. Not all receivers are currently capable of using SouthPAN. To use the service, the configuration must be set up correctly. Eventually, three service levels will be available up to 100 mm with L1 and L5 capable receivers. The Eos-GNSS unit is designed for a ready-to-use Esri field mapping solution to save time for utilities using ArcGIS for his GIS in a company.

Another innovation to improve GIS data in the field, whether the purpose is spatial asset management, mapping for ISO55000 or AS 5548.1 classification, or locating water and gas utilities is the wireless detection system. is used to locate and locate underground metal pipes. Data is passed directly to the mapping software along with precise GNSS coordinates.

The main advantage of using GNSS technology is efficiency. GNSS enables field technicians to map assets quickly, saving time and money. This is especially important for infrastructure planning, design, construction, data sets underlying digital twins, and maintenance of assets where accurate and up-to-date mapping data is essential.

GNSS technology has emerged as a powerful tool for mapping underground utility assets. However, challenges such as urban canyons and vegetation environments must be addressed to ensure data quality and reliability. To ensure you get the results you need, consult with an experienced GNSS solution supplier to ensure your equipment is set up correctly at the start of your project.

4D Global’s Peter Terrett has over 35 years of experience in providing space-based positioning solutions.

Contact Peter Terrett ( or 0419 30 7770) to learn how GNSS can save you time and take your subsurface mapping to the next level.

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