Most humanitarian organizations have either heard or used a GPS in their projects. Since the launch of Google Maps and Google Earth which made mapping more accessible to the general user, the spatial context and the need to know where we are in terms of directions to service locations has increased. This has also been reflected by donor’s demands which are no longer content to read about the project location but would also like to see the full extent, the services rendered, the equipment or infrastructure build and installed.
There are many different GPS manufacturers out there with Garmin, Magellan and TomTom being the most well-known. The prices will range depending on the functionalities of the GPS, whether they have base maps included, what type of display they provide and how sturdy they are. Most of them are easy to handle and support different GPS data formats as well as map projections. This can be of importance if you need to share your coordinates with the local government in the national standardized geographic projection and you have no means to calculate/re-project the coordinates.
So when can it be advantageous to use a GPS:
- When you want a sturdy device, well suited for the deep field
- When you need to share your coordinates and use different projections
- When your staff is not so technical versed