Accurate asset inventory and mapping is crucial for effective asset management and planning. Such accuracy demands are difficult to meet with legacy GNSS methods and corrections approaches. One prominent asset-mapping firm that maps for clients with multiple facilities worldwide adopted precise point positioning (PPP) for seamless, consistent, and reliable precision through a single positioning source. PPP has helped them standardize field hardware, software, procedures, and best practices, delivering immediate and consistent centimeter accuracy in the field, anywhere they map.
Pond is an architecture and engineering firm with offices world-wide. Its New Orleans-based asset management operations performs asset-mapping projects for clients with facilities spanning the globe. The firm offers a full spectrum of geospatial, asset management, architecture and engineering services for defense, federal, states and localities, coastal and environmental planning, energy, aviation, and transportation markets.
Pond’s asset management practice, led by senior VP Sam Briuglio, has grown from five employees and two locations in 2012 to the present 65 professionals in five locations across the US, and they continue to grow.
The challenge Pond has faced is how to deliver agile field mapping teams that could be ready to deploy at short notice, coordinate operations, and deliver consistent and reliable positioning data in near real-time to help ensure their clients’ success.
“We have some clients, like the US Army and Air Force, that have hundreds of facility locations around the country and overseas,” said Briuglio. “They have embarked on an ambitious program of asset inventory and mapping that has us collecting precise data on roads, parking, building footprints, building sites, signage, lighting, utilities—everything—and we must meet strict standards.”
In the case of their Department of Defense (DoD) clients, the Army standard is Spatial Data Standards for Facilities, Infrastructure and Environment (SDSFIE), which enables an effective logistical model for enterprise-wide asset management and planning. The benefits of standardization and data normalization can be substantial. For instance, when Pond created a database of outdoor assets and indoor space for hundreds of sites, they discovered that one client had over 100,000 square feet more space and hundreds more exterior assets than they were tracking—a discovery that justifies significant increases in management funding.
The outcome of their efforts has provided the DoD with highly accurate real property inventories to manage their assets and yielded significantly higher yearly maintenance funds for best facility management.
The Global Kit
From experience, Pond determined that GNSS, paired with mapping software on mobile tablets, are the most effective field configuration, but real-time corrections were still key. They had tried using RTK bases or local or regional networks, but when they tried Trimble’s CenterPoint RTX, the final piece fell into place.
Briuglio said that with RTX, they can configure their field kits for a single source and for work anywhere their clients have facilities. Their standard kit includes a Trimble R2, a multi-constellation, RTX-enabled GNSS rover that has been widely adopted within the asset mapping industry. This is operated with Trimble’s TerraFlex field software, running on a mobile tablet. This is a pre-built kit that any of their field crews can simply pick up, travel to any site, turn on, and begin collecting data. In TerraFlex, Pond created forms and pull-down attribute lists reflecting the client’s standards. “We can deploy asset management subject matter experts to the field to map with the kit,” said Briuglio. “They can get centimeter precision without having to also be experts in GNSS and mapping software and they don’t have to worry about equipment setup or configuration.”
The standard asset mapping kit for Pond’s crews to rapidly deploy for projects around the globe is RTX enabled R2 Integrated GNSS Systems and TerraFlex running on tablets of data controllers.
The other benefit of the pre-built kit, especially when using TerraFlex, is that field operations and data transfer can be handled in the cloud. The home office can assign crews, track progress and receive live data updates. They can QC the data and send the client daily updates in many formats, including Esri-compatible files.
While GNSS cannot work indoors, Pond has found a way to use their kit to register indoor mapping to real-world coordinates. Pond pairs the R2 and tablet with hand-held SLAM-style (simultaneous localization and mapping) scanners. The way such scanners work is that they must be operated in a close loop, beginning and ending on the same point. Pond acquires the needed starting and closing positions using RTX from an outside door. With this method, the interior 3D model and 2D floor plans they create are on the same reference as the outdoor assets they collect.
With the global reach of RTX positioning services, their crew can deploy anywhere. “We may be doing 28 sites in Iowa one week, and Guam or Japan the next,” said Briuglio. “RTX is now our standard; we’ve used it for defense and energy clients all over the country, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico, and we plan to use this in Europe and elsewhere.”
One global client base, one standard field mapping kit, one consistent and reliable solution.
"If we did not have the level of quality and consistency that we get from Trimble's products, we would not be able to fulfill our federal clients’ projects as successfully as we do."—Sam Briuglio, GISP, Senior Vice President at Pond & Company