White Paper: GPS/GNSS for Arborists

May 8, 2020 | Ben Wittman


At PlanIT Geo™ we are constantly seeking to better serve our clients by providing them with a versatile and accessible map-based tree inventory software. One of the best things about using TreePlotter™ is it’s ability to work from a simple web browser with no downloads or installs. In order to address our client’s needs for precision greater than can be achieved by plotting a tree’s location based on an aerial or satellite photo we needed to examine GNSS receivers capable of location accuracy less than 1 meter and, like TreePlotter, these receivers needed to work with nearly any tablet or smartphone.

For help selecting the right receivers to test we turned to David Siddle of Frontier Precision. David confirmed what we already knew, GNSS receivers and TreePlotter were already friends and offered us a myriad of GNSS receivers to pick from and test. Our goal was to select a few units to review and test then produce an informational document or white paper (which you can read here) about the units we tested. The white paper will help guide arborists, forest industry professionals, and TreePlotter clients to a device that best fits their scope of work, boosts their efficiency in the field and, lends reliability and trustworthiness to their work.

Dense canopy collection point

When choosing the best receivers to test we considered compatibility across operating systems, price, accuracy, portability, and ease of use. We selected the GNSS receivers Trimble R1, Juniper Geode, and Trimble Catalyst as well as two highly rugged data collectors with high accuracy location capabilities, the Trimble TDC600 and Juniper CT8. Experience outside in the field with this technology is critical for making informed recommendations. So, we took each of them to the place where our clients will need location assistance most often, under dense tree canopy.

We examined how well each unit maintained its accuracy under tree canopy, how much the accuracy changed when moving from tree to tree, and how quickly the accuracy returned to a sub-meter precision.

After field-testing the units extensively, we have found GNSS receivers work seamlessly alongside TreePlotter, providing excellent accuracy, and versatility all with simple setup and configuration. We shared our findings in an on-demand webinar, GNSS Accuracy Study.

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