The Importance of Location


Technocentre, Coventry University Technology Park, 6th May 2004


The day was organised to range from mapping technologies through location technologies to the utilisation and legislation issues.


The day started with Stuart Pretty and Clare Church of Ordnance Survey talking about their latest mapping database system. In multi layer mapping they can show detail down to house number level with information on service supply (water pipes, etc) as another level of detail. This is being extended to integrate in aerial photographs to show ground detail as well as points of interest. The result is a fully integrated database for all aspects of location.


Tracy Ross from the Transport Technology Ergonomics Centre of Loughborough University followed on with a presentation questioning the value of location based services. The essential point being that users will only pay if the information is perceived as being of value to them.


The world’s first low cost fully integrated asset tracking device was presented by Philip Taylor of Trimble. It has an amazing low power requirement to give outstanding battery life as well as a vehicle adapter option. It has integrated GSM and GPS into a single unit. The GPS has enhanced sensitivity to allow it to work in partly shielded environments. Certainly an external antenna is not required.


Dynamic surveying techniques were presented by Omnicom. (Andrew Fordyce and Katherine Elliot). They have integrated into a vehicle a combination of laser scanners and digital movie cameras to enable them to drive a route and record all details along the route. An example is that in a single drive they can map a road and include the location of all roadside furniture. Work of this nature on rail networks has been invaluable in assisting the rail industry to locate signals in visible positions.


The current state of mobile phone location technology was presented by Wayne Hulls of m-location ltd.  The features of each system were covered together with a description of the limitations as well as the advantages.


Paul Russell from Midland Expressway (M6 toll road) discussed the electronic fee collection for the new M6 toll road. The reason for the fixed charge for any distance used is that the system is “open tolling”, in other words you only pay on leaving and you access without needing a ticket. Electronic tags are available for regular users. At present these are not compatible with other toll roads in UK although they are similar technology. Paul explained that GPS was being considered for road tolling in Germany in the near future and also for commercial vehicle road pricing in the UK.


This road charging theme was followed by Michael Hemmings of NSL discussing in depth the issues of using GPS and other technologies for road usage charging. In particular he talked about the ADVANTIS project and the importance of accurate location information at all times.


Legal issues were covered by Duncan Reid of Pinsent Curtis and Terry Beadman of MIRA. Duncan concentrated on the issues relating to the use of the “spy in the cab” or “big brother”. A summary was that the use of evidence from a vehicle monitoring system in a criminal prosecution is acceptable under European law. It is legal to gather information for this purpose. Terry reminded the audience of the range of legislation that should be considered before offering a product for use in a vehicle.


Royal Institute of Navigation, Land Navigation and Location Group organised this event.

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