GPS in Civil Engineering

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Global Positioning System (GPS) can be described as the precision timing and positioning that is based on the satellites that are located in space. The Department of Defense in the United State has been charged with the mandate to steer the system. The Department of Transport was jointly charged with the duty of managing the GPS system since the service could be enjoyed by both parties. The GPS is normally integrated with the Geographic Information System (GIS) during the implementation process. GPS has offered more robustness, integrity, and accuracy of the spatial data that is obtained and then applied the daily life. There will be an investigation into the various fields where the concept of GPS is implemented and the manner in which the entire process transpires (El-Rabbany, 2013).

            GPS in Civil Engineering

The GPS is very crucial in the aspects of surveying which is paramount amongst engineers. The handiness of the mechanism makes it necessary for an engineering professional to embrace the precepts and ideas from the study of that particular concept. The civil engineers employ the GPS in the process of conducting construction programs in numerous sites. The GPS has the capacity to provide measurements of various dimensions with significant precision. There is the possibility of the GPS giving real-time sub-meter and centimeter measurement levels with a good deal of accuracy. The construction of roads, the management of fleets, and the moving of earth material requires the knowledge in the GPS as well as other applications that are related to the Civil Engineering realms. The GPS does not work in isolation but rather works with affiliated computer systems and wireless communication which are installed on the machine that executes the earth moving process. The surface information that is direly crucial to the civil engineers is then uploaded onto the system (Han, and Alzamora, 2011). The monitor displays the real-time GPS location and hence allowing the operator to gauge whether the correct grade has been merited. The GPS is combined with beam lasers that can rotate especially when there is a need for an elevation of a millimeter-level. The engineers are guided by the content on the Visual Display Unit that is on board. The GPS helps in tracking the particular uses and the locations of the various sites. The contractors are then equipped with the rationale of them supporting the given course since they are in a position to evaluate the benefits that will accrue from the venture against the losses that will be incurred in the process. The vehicle operators will get guidance in term of direction from the GPS service and hence salvage them from the hassle of spending unnecessary time searching for their destination (GORDON, 1998).

            The drilling process is made convenient and possible through the GPS knowledge that helps in determining the actual depth of the bit. There was a real revolution from the previous ways of finding the depth in the mining environment. The performance of the drill in the various rock layers and the monitoring of haul trucks in an efficient manner is well deduced from the help of the GPS information displayed on the screen. Hence the GPS finally improved dramatically as witnessed by the different process of mining (OLIVER, 1996). The drill software is integrated with the GPS program whereby the drill is manipulated in the navigation process. Some drill masts have the GPS receivers mounted on them so as to enable the position and orientation of the drill to operate in real-time and precise. The operator of the drill receives the information about the drill pattern via the radio link and the information so received guides the operator while working. The GPS helps the operator to position the drill precisely over the blast holes so as to avoid re-drilling afterward. The depth and location of each drill hole are displayed on the monitor at the present with the operator. The GPS system gathers information regarding the nature of the rock and the degree of productivity of the drill which is later relayed to the nearby engineer. Such received information becomes a crucial tool in the process of mounting the drill, understanding the rock properties, and making future plans (Xu, 2012).

            The use of computerized dispatch mechanism facilitates the process of guiding the haul trucks to their destinations by enabling the users to exploit the best routes. The Dispatch Center touts the capacity to collect information pertaining the haul truck status and the traffic conditions which are pivotal in making the appropriate design of the road. There are other GPS models that are deployed in other phases especially in the checking of coordinates of the points individually and in the process of volume surveying. The GPS convenient for that purpose are either the non-real-time or the real-time kinematic GPS.

            The GPS is quite versatile in the monitoring of the deformation and defects in the infrastructural fabrics. The mechanism required for that function needs to command accuracy of the highest degree given the dire consequences that may arise due to any slight failure of the system. The GPS offers help in detecting and differentiating between the deformations that occur in slow motion and the structural deformations that are cyclical. The deformations are exacerbated by the impact of the loads that are fast changing such as the vibrations of the bridge as a result of the traffic loads that are changeable or the vibrations of towers of the TV which is caused by the effect of wind gusts. The knowledge of the deformation incidents helps the engineers to rectify the anomaly so as accidents are evaded and hence restoring the integrity of the structures which, in turn, ensure that there is sustainable service delivery. Deformations of structures such as dams need the millimeter or sub-millimeter level precision of displacement systems of monitoring in to avert a crisis ("Natural Hazard and Risk Assessment Using Decision Support Systems, Application: Glenwood Springs, Colorado", 1996). The GPS has served that purpose on many occasions.

GPS in Environmental Engineering

GPS helps in disaster management such as forest fires and earthquakes. The hazard maps produced via the GIS help in determining the disaster-prone areas and hence the plan of evacuation is predetermined by use of GPS applications that enables the people within a few radii of the epicenter of the cataclysm to escape soonest possible. The GPS provides help in the monitoring of earthquakes by checking on the movements of the earth’s crust in the order of a small magnitude of few centimeters per annum. The GPS has come handy in the process of investigating the developments of the neotectonics and the continental drifts that are detrimental to both animal and plant species on the globe. The information obtained helps humans to devise precautionary measures in a bid to combat the impending catastrophe ("Natural Hazard and Risk Assessment Using Decision Support Systems, Application: Glenwood Springs, Colorado", 1996).


            The GPS has played a key role in revolutionizing the way the collection of geospatial data and the management of geographical data especially in areas that were deemed inaccessible and remote. It has become possible to study the interior of the earth’s crust and hence facilitating maximum exploitation of the resources and with a sense of sustainability so that the future generation can benefit. The discovery of the compass is likened to the GPS innovation since it has brought the direction into the field of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Works Cited

El-Rabbany, Ahmed. "Satellite Positioning and Applications". GEOMATICA, vol 67, no. 4, 2013, pp. 235-236. Canadian Institute Of Geomatics, doi: 10.5623/cig2013-048.

GORDON, I. "THE GEODESY OF GPS- WHAT EVERY CIVIL ENGINEER SHOULD KNOW. BRIEFING. (FIRST IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON GPS).” Proceedings Of The Institution Of Civil Engineers - Civil Engineering, vol 126, no. 3, 1998, pp. 141-142. Thomas Telford Ltd., doi:10.1680/icien.1998.30485.

Han, Jie, and Daniel A Alzamora. Geo-Frontiers 2011. American Society of Civil Engineers, 2011.

"Natural Hazard and Risk Assessment Using Decision Support Systems, Application: Glenwood Springs, Colorado". II, no. 4, 1996, pp. 605-608. Geoscienceworld, doi:10.2113/gseegeosci.ii.4.605.

OLIVER, M. "GPS—A CIVIL ENGINEER's GUIDE". Proceedings Of The Institution Of Civil Engineers - Civil Engineering, vol 114, no. 2, 1996, pp. 100-101. Thomas Telford Ltd., doi:10.1680/icien.1996.28261.

Xu, Hongtao. "Application of GPS-RTK Technology in the Land Change Survey". Procedia Engineering, vol 29, 2012, pp. 3454-3459. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.proeng.2012.01.511.

September 04, 2023


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