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An examination of network RTK GPS services in Great Britain

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stuart Edwards, Professor Peter ClarkeORCiD, Dr Nigel Penna, Dr Sibylle Goebell



As of March 2009, network real-time kinematic (RTK) GPS surveying is available in Great Britain with the aid of two commercial service providers, Leica’s “SmartNet” and Trimble’s “VRS Now”, both of which rely largely on the Ordnance Survey’s “OS Net” network of around 120 continuously operating reference stations. With the aim of testing the performance of Network RTK under both ideal and less-ideal conditions (greater distances and elevation differences from the nearest reference stations, proximity to the edges of OS Net, and increased susceptibility to ocean tide loading effects), we have tested the positional accuracy of both commercial Network RTK systems by comparison with precise coordinates determined using the Bernese scientific GPS processing software, at six representative locations spanning England and Wales. We find that the coordinate quality measures provided by the Network RTK solutions are overall representative of the actual coordinate accuracy, which is typically 10-20 mm in plan and 15-35 mm in height, and can be successfully used to identify outliers. Positional accuracy tends to be poorest outside of the bounds of OS Net and at greater elevation differences from nearby reference stations. Averaging of coordinates over two short windows separated by 20-45 minutes can be used to achieve moderate improvements in coordinate accuracy without the need for single long occupations of sites.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Edwards SJ, Clarke PJ, Penna NT, Goebell S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Survey Review

Year: 2010

Volume: 42

Issue: 316

Pages: 107-121

Print publication date: 01/04/2010

Date deposited: 17/08/2010

ISSN (print): 0039-6265

ISSN (electronic): 1752-2706

Publisher: Maney Publishing


DOI: 10.1179/003962610X12572516251529


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