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North Bay firm takes the lead in satellite survey technology.

Satellite signals have created a new method of mapping property.

And one of the first companies in Ontario to take advantage of this new system is Simpson and Osborne Surveying Inc. of North Bay.

To their knowledge, they are the only cadastral firm in Ontario to own a global positioning system (GPS), designed to receive signals from satellites put in space by the U.S. military. The signals indicate the latitude, longitude and elevation of the receiver.

The company's partners, Neil Simpson and Alex Osborne, both Ontario land surveyors, have purchased four GPS receivers - three larger ones and one portable unit.

The applications for this technology are varied. For example, Simpson notes that it allowed the allied forces to pinpoint their bombing during the Gulf War.

However, for Simpson and Osborne, the technology is used to measure survey lines without chopping out bush to get a line of sight.

All that is required is a "window in the sky," says Osborne. And that window is not affected by weather conditions or nightfall.

Because it eliminates bushwacking, the system is more efficient and economical than traditional methods of surveying. It has several time-saving uses for the mining industry.

For example, the system can accurately pinpoint the corners of a mining claim to speed up the process of cutting the survey line.

When skirting a water body, the machine can give exact bearings to get the surveyor back on track.

In locating a feature on a map, the latitude and longitude bearings of the map can be fed into the machine, which is then used to pinpoint the physical location.

Simpson and Osborne has used this method from a helicopter, while flying to a precise location north of Kapuskasing.

"It removes a lot of the guess work," says Simpson.

He claims the system can help an exploration firm find a desired location for drill holes in two days.

First, the system can use the features of a geological map to find an exact spot in an anomaly where a company wants to drill. Second, once a hole is drilled, the system can pinpoint the location in relation to property or claim boundaries.

GPS can also be used to map planting areas or fire perimeters for the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The software provided with the equipment works with an AutoCAD drafting system.

"A good many of the things that used to be done using aerial photography can now be replaced with this because it is cheaper and quicker," says Simpson.

Trails, roads and water bodies can also be mapped.

For example, a trail can be travelled with the portable machine, and readings can be taken every three seconds. Once down-loaded, the computer-plotting of the data can be superimposed on an existing map.

Simpson and Osborne opted to buy the Trimble Navigation equipment - at a price of $30,000 per unit - because they believe it is the way of the future.

Simpson predicts that all properties will eventually be mapped in a geographical information system (GIS), and the basis of that system is the global positioning identified by the GPS.

The only drawback is a lack of public awareness of the availability and accuracy of the system.

The larger receivers can be accurate to one centimetre for precision surveying, says Simpson. The portable unit, which has less software, is accurate to five metres.

While the changing position of satellites limits the time the system can be used, an individual receiver keeps track of when each satellite is available, and it can be programmed to operate during those times.

Simpson says the inconvenience of down-time can be minimized with planning.

For example, if you are going to Moosonee to do some work in June, you feed in the latitude, longitude and date you want to work and the machine plots peak receptive periods.

The U.S. military has guaranteed that its satellite system will be in place until at least the year 2003, says Osborne. It has plans to increase the number of satellites from 17 to 26.
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Title Annotation:Mining Report; Simpson and Osborne Surveying Inc.
Author:Smith, Marjie
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Previous Article:Mining industry seeks an end to uncertainty created by land claims.
Next Article:Nickel producers taking aim at their labor and hydro costs.

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