Getting started with ArcMap GPS Support

The global positioning system (GPS) is a set of satellites and ground stations. A GPS device calculates its location using signals received from the satellites. Funded and supported by the United States government, GPS has widespread use for both military and civilian applications.

A roadmap to the ArcMap GPS Support toolbar

ArcMap GPS Support takes in a feed from a GPS receiver and displays the current location on the screen. You can also store locations from the GPS receiver in a log for archival or real-time digitizing purposes. You can answer the question “Where am I?” by accessing ArcMap GPS Support through the GPS toolbar in ArcMap or by writing a custom application using ArcObjects.

Learn about adding the GPS toolbar

The location is displayed as a user-defined marker symbol. You can have the angle of the marker symbol reflect the direction of motion (bearing), the size based upon the current speed of travel, and the color based upon the altitude. Previous locations can be displayed as a trail of markers or as a line that you can also customize. The trail of previous positions can reflect changes in bearing, speed, and altitude.

Learn about changing the display options

You can keep the location visible on the screen by panning as needed or have the display pan automatically. For applications like in-car navigation and routing systems, you can snap the location to specified features, such as a street centerline. You can write GPS locations to a log either in streaming mode (at a specified rate or distance apart) or one at a time. When a log file is specified, you have the option of choosing which columns are added to the output feature class.

Learn about writing GPS locations to a log

Tasks you can perform with ArcMap GPS Support

You can perform the following tasks with ArcMap GPS Support.

Show the location on the screen

You can connect a GPS receiver to a communication port on a computer running ArcMap and see the current location on the map display (see Connecting to a GPS device). You can also open the GPS Position window which shows updated information in real time.

Digitize features

By setting up a log file, you can create a new feature class in which to store GPS locations. Once the log is defined, you can use the Stamp Current Position to Log button on the GPS toolbar to record individual points. If you'd rather automatically record locations to the log, set up the filter options on the Log Setup dialog box and click the Start Streaming to Log button on the GPS toolbar.

Snap positions to features

Consider the following scenario:

You want to have the current location snapped to the features in a feature class. In this example, you are streaming features to a log file as you drive down a road and you want the locations to coincide with the street centerlines. You set up the connection and position display information. You then use the Snapping tab of the Display Options dialog box to choose the Roads layer (which contains street centerlines) from a list of features on a map. Next, you specify a snapping tolerance. All positions within the specified tolerance will now be snapped to the features in the Roads layer.

Learn more about snapping to existing features

Replay collected information later

You can set up a simulation to review data that was collected earlier and saved to a log. First, set up the simulation by choosing the log you want and set a display interval. Then open the connection to display the locations from the log on the map. You can use any point or line feature class for the simulation data.

Published 6/7/2010