Dr Chalermchon Satirapod
Department of Survey Engineering
Faculty of Engineering
Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
In Thailand, GPS technology has been extensively used as an essential tool to support various applications (i.e. navigation, recreation, control surveying, detail surveying, engineering surveying, asset mapping etc). Both in the public and private sectors GPS is widely used. Many government organizations such as the Department of Lands, Department of Forestry, Royal Thai Survey Department and others have purchased their own GPS equipment and some organizations even set up a GPS section to carry out their routine responsibilities. In the private sector, many companies have recently incorporated the GPS technology into their location-based services such as real-time vehicle tracking for resource optimization and stolen vehicle tracking. The lack of skilled personnel therefore becomes a serious problem in Thailand. In order to meet this growing demand for GPS education and training, the Department of Survey Engineering at Chulalongkorn University was the first university in Thailand to introduce GPS courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The department also offers a regular GPS training course and consultancy to interested GPS users. In this paper, the author will first provide an overview of GPS courses and GPS research activities at the department. The GPS facilities available and academic staff will be introduced to showcase the depth of experience and knowledge within the department of this important new technology.
In realising the shortage of skilled personnel in the field of GPS technology, the Department of Survey Engineering has taken the initiative to introduce two GPS courses to both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
There is a course “Satellite Surveying and Modern Techniques” at Undergraduate level subject (offered since 1992) which contains Geometry of artificial satellites; absolute and relative positioning using earth artificial satellites; Global Positioning System (GPS); other new techniques currently used in surveying.
At Postgraduate level there is a course “GPS Satellite Surveying” (offered since 1998) which contains Fundamentals of satellite surveying; satellite orbit motion; GPS; GPS observables and errors; surveying methods; data processing; applications in Thailand.
Other than the above-mentioned courses, the department has also been offering a GPS training course to general GPS users. The introduction of the GPS courses and training course, are designed to reduce the shortage of skilled personnel in Thailand. An advanced course in GPS will be introduced to postgraduate students in the near future in order to drive more GPS research activities at the department.
GPS Research Activities
In the past, GPS research activities at the department mainly relied on experimental results derived from commercial GPS software. Examples of the completed research are;
- A comparative study for suitability of orthometric heights
- A comparative study on suitability of datums for Thailand : WGS84 versus Indian 1975
- Unification of GPS networks in Thailand
- Application of GPS satellite surveying for vertical control
- Comparative study of accuracies obtainable from commercial GPS hardware and software
Recently, the department has addressed a variety of basic and applied GPS research and development (R&D) projects. The current research focuses more on developing in-house software, so that researchers will have a better understanding of their specific project and a flexibility to verify their assumptions. Some examples of the ongoing research projects are;
- Monitoring of bridges in Thailand using the integration of GPS and accelerometers
- Development of a GPS carrier phase-based precise point positioning software
- Multipath mitigation of permanent GPS stations using wavelets
- Monitoring of crustal motion in Thailand using GPS In the near future, the department plans to offer a PhD research program in GPS satellite positioning and applications.
GPS Facilities and Academic Staff
The Department of Survey Engineering is well equipped with a wide range of modern GPS instruments and associated data processing software to support education, research and consultancy activities. Examples of some of the GPS instrumentation are described as follows:
- Six dual-frequency GPS receivers (Leica system 500, capable of performing Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) surveying)
- Three dual-frequency GPS receivers (Leica system 300)
- Five licenses of Leica SKI-Pro software
- Three licenses of Leica SKI version 2.3 software
- Three single-frequency GPS receivers (Trimble 4000SSE)
- Twenty-four hand-held GPS receivers (SILVA, Trimble Scout master)
- One license of the scientific Bernese software version 4.0
- An in-house single point positioning software (written in C++ codes)
- An in-house static baseline processing software
The department boasts two academic staff devoted to the field of GPS surveying. Both academic staff, Associate Professor Dr. Chugiat Wichiencharoen and Dr. Chalermchon Satirapod, are currently responsible for teaching and supervising both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The Department of Survey Engineering at the Chulalongkorn University has been leading the way in teaching and researching in the area of GPS in Thailand for over a decade. The undergraduate and postgraduate courses offered and the wealth of academic experience and facilities at the department as well as expert advice and consultancy promise to contribute to the growing demand for spatially literate personnel in the public and private sectors in Thailand. With the ever-increasing need for satellite positioning in the modern age and the implementation of the new European Galileo satellite navigation system just around the corner, there has never been a more important time to provide a strong education and understanding of global navigation satellite systems for the benefit of the geospatial industry in Thailand.
The author would like to thank Dr. Craig Roberts, a lecturer at the Department of Geospatial Science, RMIT University, for his advice and proof reading of this article.
Note: For more information on the course, please visit the following website: