# PLOTTING SURVEYING DATA IN GOOGLE EARTH

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2 map projection is commonly used with OSGB36 to give coordinates in Eastings and Northings instead of latitude and longitude. Heights used in Great Britain are based on the Ordnance Datum Newlyn (ODN). This is a one-dimensional coordinate system. The heights are geoid heights heights relative to mean sea level, which is a tide-gauge in Newlyn. Google Earth uses GPS coordinate system WGS84 (World Geodetic System 1984) for latitude and longitude, and Geoid model EGM96 (Earth Gravitational Model 1996) for heights. WGS84 is a coordinate system based on the GRS80 (Geodetic Reference System 1980) ellipsoid, an ellipsoid which fits the whole Earth the best. Coordinate systems can be known as datums or Terrestrial Reference Systems (TRSs) when they have been fixed to the Earth by a datum definition. Terrestrial Reference Frames (TRFs) are set up to realise the datums so that they can be used in the real world. For example, OSGB36 traditionally used trig pillars on hill tops as points of known coordinates, enabling new points to be derived by measuring from the pillars. Conversions and Geodetic Transformations Coordinate conversions are different to transformations in that they do not involve a change of datum (Iliffe and Lott, 2008). Examples of conversions are going from ellipsoidal coordinates to Cartesian coordinates, or to map coordinates using a projection. The parameter values for the conversion are defined and as such they do not lose accuracy and are reversible to get the same answer. Transformations on the other hand are used to transform coordinates between different datum realisations and will be affected by the surveying imperfections of both coordinate reference systems. Two ellipsoidal datums can differ in position of the origin of coordinates, in the orientation of coordinate axes, and in the ellipsoid size and shape. The ellipsoid size and shape can be eliminated most simply by converting to three-dimensional Cartesian coordinates. A Helmert datum transformation can be applied to a TRF to rotate the Cartesian axes, translate the origin and alter the scale. The Helmert datum transformation does not take into account regional distortions in the TRFs, and as such using it to transform between OSGB36 and WGS84 can give errors of up to 4m (Ordnance Survey, 2007). Local transformation parameters can be used for a more accurate Helmert transformation. The Ordnance Survey has developed a more complicated transformation known as OSTN02 which takes into account the variable localised distortion. The OSTN02 transformation consists of grid translation vectors which cover the country at a 1km resolution. Bi-linear interpolation is used on the grid of translation vectors to calculate a shift corresponding to the local distortion. Google Earth Google Earth (2009) is a virtual globe, map and geographic information program. It is a freely available program that superimposes imagery obtained from satellite and aerial photographs onto a 3D model of the world. The user s geographic data can be represented easily on Google Earth through the use of Keyhole Markup Language (KML) documents. These documents can be used to show points, paths, polygons and ground overlays. Plotting Surveying Data in Google Earth 2

3 The vertical aerial photographs used in Google Earth have been georeferenced to align with the coordinate system. The process of georeferencing involves identifying ground control points in the image for which accurate coordinates are available. A transformation is then calculated by computer software which processes the image so that it aligns to the ground coordinate system (Wolf and Dewitt, 2000). Mosaics are used to stitch many aerial photographs together. Controlled mosaics use rectified photos so that all of the photos are vertical and at the same scale. In mosaic assembly, image positions of common features in adjacent photos are matched as closely as possible. A plot of control points is used to match and constrain positions, similar to the technique used in georeferencing. Uncontrolled mosaics simply match the image details of adjacent photos without using the ground control, which is quicker but less accurate in terms of the coordinate reference system. Semicontrolled mosaics have either no ground control or use photos that have not been rectified. Computer Programming The computer program was developed using Java, a modern object-oriented programming language. Java is portable, meaning programs developed with the Java programming language can be run on anything that supports the Java platform. Java is supported by all major PC operating systems, as well as many web browsers, mobile internet devices and mobile phones (Flanagan, 2005). The open-source integrated programming environment Eclipse (2009) was used for the development of the program. The program, named Google Earth Plotter, was chosen to use an approximate Helmert datum transformation. The steps required to change a set of land surveying coordinates (OSGB36 Easting and Northing and ODN height) to Google Earth coordinates (WGS84 latitude and longitude and EGM96 height) are as follows: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) Convert grid Eastings and Northings to ellipsoidal latitude and longitude using map projection formulae; Convert ellipsoidal latitude, longitude and height to 3D Cartesian coordinates; Use the Helmert datum transformation to transform between OSGB36 and WGS84 TRFs; Convert 3D Cartesian coordinates back to ellipsoidal latitude, longitude and height; Discard WGS84 ellipsoid height. Use approximate Geoid height found by adding the EGM96-ODN height difference (0.8m) to ODN height. The computer program has three main functions. The first is to plot a single point, entered directly into the user interface by the user. The second function plots multiple points from a file, and the third plots an edited field file. All of the functions use the input data to create a KML file which includes the new WGS84 coordinates and formatting details. Google Earth uses the KML files to superimpose the data on top of its aerial imagery. Figure 1 shows the interface of the program for plotting a point and for plotting field data. Figure 2 shows field data plotted on Google Earth. Plotting Surveying Data in Google Earth 3

4 Figure 1. The Point and Field Data tabs of Google Earth Plotter Figure 2. KML representing field data collected during the surveying field course at Loughbrough University Plotting Surveying Data in Google Earth 4

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