Global Positioning System - GPS Products

Since the inception of GPS technology, its popularity has exploded. A wide variety of receiver makes and models are available for civilian purchase. Examples of the most popular and dependable manufacturers include:

- Garmin
- Magellan
- Lowrance
- Trimble

Figure 6: Examples of GPS handheld units.

GPS receivers can range in price and functionality from simple handheld units that provide a spatial location to more complex data loggers that actually collect points for further processing and analysis. Some receivers can load GIS software such as ArcPad which is a mobile mapping software created by ESRI. This software allows the user to perform GIS and mapping tasks in the field based on the locations collected with the receiver that include:

- Collecting Data
- Locating Features
- Navigating Maps in Real Time
- Querying Data

Figure 7: Example of GPS units utilizing mobile mapping software.

For the more complex GPS units that actually collect and store data, a GPS processing software is needed to accurately correct errors and manipulate data. This processing software facilitates transferring data collected from a GPS unit into your GIS application and includes but is certainly not limited to the following products:

GPS Pathfinder Office

This software available from Trimble provides advanced processing capabilities that include data dictionary editors, import/export format utilities and differential correction routines. More information can be found at

Figure 8: Screenshot of GPS Pathfinder Office User Interface.


This software available from Waypoint Consulting Inc. is called GrafNav/GrafNet. It can download raw GPS data files from most GPS receivers, and it processes these files to improve accuracy and quality assurance. More information is available at

Figure 9: Screenshot of GrafNav/GrafaNet User Interface.


This free downloadable GPS application is available at It allows the user to transfer data between a computer and a Garmin, Magellan, or Lowrance GPS unit.

Figure 10: Screenshot of EasyGPS User Interface.

There are various other GPS processing applications available, many of which are free and downloadable. It is essential to determine which particular program will be compatible with the software that your GIS application uses. The processing program must be able to manipulate and export the GPS data so it is readable in the GIS software that you are using.

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