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Consumer-Grade Global Positioning Systems (GPS) Receiver Performance

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This study reports the relative measurement accuracy and reliability of six consumer-grade global positioning system (GPS) receivers that were tested in several distinct forest settings. The settings included open sky, young forest, and closed forest canopy conditions. In addition, the influence of whether a single position measurement is more accurate than the average of 30 or 60 measurements is examined. Significant differences in accuracy existed among the six GPS receivers and forest setting also influenced accuracy and reliability. We also found varying operating characteristics among the GPS receivers. The most accurate consumer-grade GPS receiver had average measurement errors of approximately 2 m or less in open sky conditions, 3 m or less in a young forest setting, and 9 m or less under a closed canopy. The number of averaged positions (1, 30, or 60) was a significant factor for accuracy with only two of the six GPS receivers.

Keywords: GPS; accuracy; geospatial; precision

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    Also published by SAF:
    Forest Science
    Other SAF Publications
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