1m Positional Accuracy in Mappt using Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor

Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor & Mappt Mobile GIS

Measuring 60x100mm the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor can provide 1m accuracy

Measuring 60x100mm the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor can provide 1m accuracy

Thanks to the helpful folks at Bad Elf, we recently got our hands on the Bad Elf Surveyor Bluetooth GNSS* for testing with Mappt. Combining Mappt with an external source of positional information delivers higher  accuracy than using the on-board GNSS for mobile phones and tablets. It also reduces battery consumption and CPU load on your mobile device.

Vendors like Bad Elf also provide applications offering enhanced functionality for data logging, device configuration, and data QC. Using external GNSS sources makes determining your position less “black box” and more hands-on when it comes to resolving your location and understanding the level of accuracy provided.
Compact and Compatible
Paring the Bad Elf GNSS with Mappt follows the same procedure we’ve detailed in a previous blog. The compact design (100x 60x20mm) and long lasting battery make the Bad Elf a handy field companion for mobile mapping and data collection. With a small LCD screen yielding important GNSS information, the Bad Elf keeps you well aware of the positional information available to you.

GNSS information available from the Bad Elf's compact 35x25mm LCD screen

GNSS information available from the Bad Elf’s compact 35x25mm LCD screen

Increased Accuracy
When either mapping or collecting data in the field, increased positional accuracy is always a plus. Often it’s necessary to revisit the field to account for seasonal changes (in the case of environmental sciences) or for relocating benchmarks or critical infrastructure such as utilities. The Bad Elf Surveyor offers up to 1m accuracy, an improvement over the 3-5m accuracy achievable with tablets and mobile phones.


How does it do that?
The Bad Elf Surveyor uses information from three satellite constellations; GPS, GLONASS, and QZSS. Thus from wherever you are globally, there’s an increased probability that you will have the required four satellites to resolve your position. Many devices derive location from a single satellite constellation thus limiting the amount of satellites available to them. The Bad Elf Surveyor also implements SBAS, Satellite Based Augmentation System, to gain positions within 1m. Serving as an augmentation to Global Navigation Satellite Systems, it works by collecting raw positioning data from regional Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS), computing error corrections, and sharing these corrections to users via a geostationary communications satellite. While southern hemisphere regions don’t have their own SBAS, Australia is currently implementing its own SBAS test-bed to be operational by January 2019.
Alongside SBAS, the Bad Elf Surveyor also implements PPP, Precise Point Positioning, which removes GNSS system errors providing a high level of position accuracy from a single receiver. This solution depends on GNSS satellite clock and orbit corrections. These corrections are delivered to the receiver via satellite to provide positioning accurate to within several deicmetres.


Mobile Device GPS Behavior Versus Dedicated GPS Units
Mobile device GNSS chipsets have been designed to compliment an integrated system (your tablet/phone) delivering a wide variety of applications. Just count the number of apps you’ve downloaded from the app store. Can you imagine carrying a separate component for each of these?  These mobile applications are optimized to reduce load on the system by reducing battery consumption and processor load. The optimisation for mobile GPS chipsets puts limiting battery usage at the top of the list with time-to-fix location second and positional accuracy third. Dedicated GNSS devices like Bad Elf devices flip this priority on it’s head, placing positional accuracy first followed by time-to-fix and lastly the reduction of battery power. While it may seem like the Bad Elf would quickly run out of juice, it can continuously stream Bluetooth GNSS information for 24 hours. We have yet to see a tablet with that type of battery power!

We took the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor to our favourite bushland, Signal Hill Park

We took the Bad Elf GNSS Surveyor to our favourite bushland, Signal Hill Park

Mapping Tips n Tricks Learned Using the Bad Elf Surveyor
Creating Polygons in Mappt –  Turn on the enter polygon tool and record each significant point of the polygon (corners and inflection points) as you walk out the perimiter. This ensures that corners/vertices are not shortcut and an accurate shape of the area is recorded.  It’s possible to create polygons in Mappt using the GPS Tracking tool, then walking out the perimeter of the polygon, and finishing off by converting the polyline to a polygon to enclose the area. This method helps when moving continuously (such as when in a vehicle) as you don’t need to stop and record points around the area. However the points associated with your polyline are created at the frequency of GPS updates from your device and you may end up not recording those key corner points!
GNSS Location – Place your external GNSS device in a way that provides a clear view of the sky. Some websites suggest affixing the GNSS face-up to the top of your hat! While you will have great reception, this limits the opportunity to check parameters on the LCD screen. Affixing the GNSS to a surveyors staff gives you both a walking stick and place to mount your tablet. This setup affords both good GNSS reception and makes data entry easier as the tablet is held steady by the staff.  Note:  The team at Bad Elf are currently developing hardware designed with rapid mobile mapping in mind.

The crew at Bad Elf are working on a clever monopole mount for the Bad Elf Surveyor

The crew at Bad Elf are working on a clever monopole mount for the Bad Elf Surveyor

Bad Elf has developed an integrated GPS and mobile device monopole for rapid mobile mapping

Bad Elf has developed an integrated GPS and mobile device monopole for rapid mobile mapping

Bad Elf GNSS Logging – The Bad Elf allows continuous logging of points. After a hard day in the field, it’s nice to know how much ground you covered. Logged information can be downloaded as GPX files and visualised in desktop GIS solutions such as QGIS.

Signal Hill Park Map from QGIS. Bad Elf track points (orange) displaying the total ground covered in this mapping exercise.

Signal Hill Park Map from QGIS. Bad Elf track points (orange) displaying the total ground covered in this mapping exercise.

*GNSS, Global Navigation Satellite System, is the collective term for all navigation satellites groups (constellations) including GPS.


If you would like to know more about configuring an external GNSS to work with Mappt, please contacts us at:

The Ultimate Fieldwork Preparation Checklist

How to successfully conduct a fieldwork expedition and enjoy yourself along the way.

This simple checklist provides a tool to ensure researchers, geologists, scientists or explorers are fully prepared for their journey.

We’ve also included some helpful tips and suggestions for an enjoyable expedition.

The Ultimate Fieldwork Preparation Checklist – Click Here to Download Free PDF



Mappt Case Study: Focused Vision Consulting

Date: May 201720160726_135601_resized
Organisation: Focused Vision Consulting
Location: Munster, Western Australia
Industry: Environmental


Focused Vision Consulting (FVC) is an environmental and HSEQ (health, safety, environment and quality) consultancy, that brings together expertise across a range of specialist disciplines including ecology, environmental approvals, compliance, management systems, health and safety, quality assurance, site support and more.

FVC specialise in biological studies supporting a variety of industries. These include flora and fauna vegetation surveys and environmental assessments.


FVC were using paper materials, which were inaccurate and inconvenient.

They needed a more visual tool for when they were conducting surveys, mapping flora and monitoring vegetation. When FVC workers were out in the field they needed to have a comprehensive overview of exactly where they were going, what they were doing and what they were trying to achieve.


FVC decided to use Mappt after being recommend by a GIS professional. Mappt enabled FVC’s environmental practitioners to log a detailed account of their findings, map each finding’s exact locations, and view this data easily whilst out in the field with no internet access.


mappt graphicArborCarbon-Mappt-Screenshot2







FVC significantly reduced their paper materials and instead used one compact Android device to view, capture, store and share all their relevant data. The app made producing maps, figures and reports for their clients significantly easier, faster and more efficient. Some of the services FVC were using Mappt for included:

  • Flora and vegetation surveys
  • Threatened flora surveys and mapping
  • Vegetation condition and weed mapping
  • Wetland assessments and reclassification or boundary modification applications
  • Vegetation and rehabilitation monitoring programs
  • Terrestrial vertebrate fauna surveys
  • Conservation significant fauna and habitat surveys
  • Technical reporting of biological assessment or monitoring information
  • Environmental Management Plans
  • Environmental impact assessments and approvals


Since 2015, Focused Vision Consulting has been using Mappt for all their projects and has not had any issues to date. Mappt’s utilisation of a light and compact device has transformed their environmental field work through its ease of use and mobile efficiency.



How GIS is Saving the Day – 5 GIS Tools for Disaster Management

Earthquakes, landslides, floods and fires are just a handful of natural disasters that devastate areas, with some never fully recovering. Lives are lost, infrastructure is destroyed and entire communities are forced to leave their homes behind.

However, the way we handle emergency relief today has been entirely revolutionised thanks to the surge in use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

A GIS is a commanding technology that utilise the power of location based data. It can be used before, during and after natural disasters to significantly contribute to the emergency management of catastrophic situations.

Through monitoring, data collection, impact assessment and disaster simulation, the power of GIS is changing the way we pick ourselves up after an extraordinary event.


Importing and Exporting Data

When disaster strikes, information can be the difference between life and death. Being armed with as much information and data as possible assists with prevention, preparedness, relief and recovery.

Mappt is a prime example of a GIS application that can offer substantial support during disaster relief.

The mobile application has the power to import GIS data, such as satellite imagery, electrical grids, maps of gas and water pipes, and provide the rescuer who’s out in the field with information they cannot see.

When disaster areas are covered in debris, flooded or up in flames, Mappt allows users to see what existed previously beneath their feet when searching for survivors or assessing damages.



If the disaster zone’s internet access has been compromised, Mappt still allows users to access previously uploaded maps and data.

Once back online it is vital that the collected information is published and shared quickly and directly with relevant parties

Mappt also allows users to embed data onto a website, send files directly via email or upload to Google Drive, all within minutes!



Geotagged Photos

Being able to capture data exactly where it happened is also critical in disaster management.

Photographing and documenting damages not only provides emergency management with the extent of damages, but also assists in the determination of how and where a disaster first struck.

Having geotagged photos – photos with a GPS location – on a map significantly contributes to disaster relief and recovery, as they’re a far better visual aid than an ambiguous marker point, therefore ensuring rapid situation assessments.


GPS Tracking

Continuously tracking emergency service workers is essential to coordinating disaster relief and immediate responses.

Because of Mappt’s advanced map tile caching, the application enables offline GPS tracking.

This allows users to roam in areas with no internet access, yet still access the exact patterns of their movements when out in the field.

Analyzing data involves tracking areas covered by emergency workers, making it ideal for off road route planning, calculating distances and helping workers find their way back to base.

Having this type of geospatial information at hand assists in decision making and resource allocation for emergency planners.


Disaster sites are extremely dangerous after a natural disaster, so keeping workers safe when entering hazardous zones is crucial.

Geofencing allows users to set up perimeters on their map to mark out exclusion and inclusion zones and keep workers safe or on track. It also provides the basis for vulnerability and hazard assessments.

If a user breaches a boundary, Mappt will sound a visual and audial alarm, and the event will be logged.


Points, Lines and Polygons

Flagging important areas or plotting key positions on a map, such as dangerous areas, survivors or debris, is extremely important in disaster management.

Mappt has several simple tools to create a personal and completely unique dataset using points, polylines and polygons.

Users can change the colour and style of points, customise line styles, and edit the opacity of the area within a polygon.

Our GIS also allows users to assign attributes to each feature, so you’ll know exactly why you highlighted a section.

This could be used to mark out flooded areas, burnt vegetation or a point of damage.


Disaster Proof!

In disaster relief, GIS is an invaluable tool for emergency management. GIS has an enormity of uses as it can manage huge levels of data required for vulnerability and hazard assessments.

When combined with GPS, geospatial tools assist in the search for survivors in areas that are difficult to access or see. They can also be used for planning evacuation routes and the integration of satellite data with other relevant data when designing early warning systems.

GIS can also be used to prepare complex prediction models, spatial databases and assist in creating appropriate contingency plans.

To sum it up – emergency management would be a disaster without GIS!

Mappt differs from other GIS platforms with its easy to use features, mobile and tablet integration, offline capability and our very affordable licenses.

Businesses in over 130 countries use our software due to its friendly interface and easy to use features, making Mappt the perfect GIS for those who need to act fast.


Ssiobhan-profile2iobhan Herne
Marketing and Communications

Siobhan has no background in GIS, she’s a beginner, just like you. Follow her stories for an easier digest of all things geospatial.

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