CNCC to build new CORS base station on Rangely campus

RANGELY — Conrad Stanley, program director of natural resources, process technology and geographic information systems (GIS) at Colorado Northwestern Community College, has for years sought ever-increasing GPS accuracy to enhance certain elements of the GIS program.
With contractors and surveyors increasing reliance upon GPS instruments for cadastral mapping and site development, major metropolitan areas such as Chicago have fully embraced these systems. However, rural areas and most academic institutions, because of limited funding, have not been able to incorporate this technology and the benefit it provides. Two recent events have changed the situation for Colorado Northwestern.
This summer, three high-grade GPS units able to resolve positions to sub-centimeter accuracy were purchased for use in both the GIS and civil engineering programs. These units, initially costing upwards of $50,000, were obtained for approximately $6,000 per set by partnering with Topcon Positioning Solutions.
The next event is the construction of a RTK/RTVRNS (CORS) station at the Rangely campus. The Mesa County GIS department, one of the most technologically advanced in the nation, has partnered with Colorado Northwestern to erect and equip this station. The station will provide corrections data in three ways: post-processed, local broadcast for Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) survey and network integration by its incorporation into Mesa County’s Real-Time Virtual Reference Network System (RTVRNS).
The station’s construction will not only benefit students but the local community and the adjacent regions as well. Prior to its construction, students were trained on only post-process technology. This new base station will provide new learning opportunities for students in both civil engineering and in GIS.
Students will be proficient with GPS site development technology, which will be increasingly used as energy infrastructure develops. Stanley hopes to also incorporate certain IT components associated with base station operation into the curriculum to produce a more-well-rounded student.
The immediate region will be benefited by the CORS base station as well. For example, the Town of Rangely will be able to obtain sub-centimeter positions to more accurately and expediently develop residential sites. Additionally, many energy partners in the Piceance Basin will likely fall under the virtual reference network umbrella, meaning contractors receiving cell phone transmissions can conduct GPS site development at sub-centimeter levels as well.