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GPS with easting and northing input
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STBOUK
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 2:04 am    Post subject: GPS with easting and northing input Reply with quote

I have searched these and other forums and not found evidence that what I desire exists but I will ask the question anyway.

I am a member of a Community First Responder scheme that operates in a rural part of the UK. Conventional navigation can be hit or miss even with consumer GPS because insufficient options exist to quickly pin down the patient's exact location when "programming" the device; street addresses can be vague and postcodes can cover a large area.

We are however dispatched to scene by our local ambulance service via SMS message that includes very precise easting and northing location fix. Whilst we don't have the ambulance service GPS system that is remotely programmed over the air with this fix - and is not available for us to buy anyway - we still want to use this invaluable information to reduce our time-to-scene.

Keeping home computers running in order to convert from easting and northing to latitude and longitude is NOT what we want to be doing at sparrow's o'clock when raised from our slumber, and neither do we want to be fiddling with GPS software plugins instead of running for the door; what we want is to investigate buying commercially available GPS units that allow eastings and northings to be directly entered but we have failed to find any.

Pointers to such devices gratefully received and happy to be beta testers if such a device is being developed for production.

Many thanks.
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MaFt
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most TomTom and Garmin units will do this.

What sort of budget are you looking at and we can give more specific details as to which devices would be suitable.

MaFt
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Oldboy
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MaFt wrote:
Most TomTom and Garmin units will do this.
They will do Lat/Long, but Easting/Northing?. Confused
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AllyCat
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

Do you mean specifically Easting+Northing or would OSGB (two letters + 6, 8 or 10 digits depending on resolution) be sastisfactory? Conversion certainly doesn't need a computer, the two letters represent a 100km square which is alternatively identified by one extra digit prefixing the Easting and Northing. So a "local" region will have the same prefixes, or a very simple table can convert for the whole UK.

I don't know of any car satnav that supports even OSGB, but I believe many of the more expensive Garmin Handhelds using the appropriate maps can give street routing information (and on-screen guidance). However, I don't believe that they have a "voice" facility, but AFAIK every handheld GPS can be set to use OSGB coordinates.

Personally, I use the excellent free OSGPSconverter program on a Windows Pocket PC (which can accept an Easting-Northing input and directly create a TomTom POI running on the same PPC, but I accept that this doesn't meet the OP's request (and is rather outdated now).

Cheers, Alan.
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MaFt
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oldboy wrote:
MaFt wrote:
Most TomTom and Garmin units will do this.
They will do Lat/Long, but Easting/Northing?. Confused


Eastings and Northings is just another phrase for Lat/Lon as far as I am aware. i.e. N 52.12345 is the northing and E 001.23456 is the easting.

Perhaps STBOUK can post a sample set of Northing & Easting to test my theory?

MaFt



edited to put correct username in!!!


Last edited by MaFt on Tue May 10, 2011 12:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Andy_P
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

STBOUK wrote:

We are however dispatched to scene by our local ambulance service via SMS message that includes very precise easting and northing location fix.


MaFt wrote:
Oldboy wrote:
MaFt wrote:
Most TomTom and Garmin units will do this.
They will do Lat/Long, but Easting/Northing?. Confused


Eastings and Northings is just another phrase for Lat/Lon as far as I am aware. i.e. N 52.12345 is the northing and E 001.23456 is the easting.


Yeeeeesssss......
I think MaFt is right, so we are into a terminology confusion.

STBOUK... Rather than "easting and northing" did you mean you get given an OS grid reference like NN 166 712. (Ben Nevis) which is based on the OSGB36 datum that Alleycat mentioned?

Or to make matters worse there IS an all-numeric version if the grid reference... with Eastings then Northings in metres, measured from the bottom left corner of the bottom left square of the UK grid (the SV square in Cornwall).

Perhaps we need STBOUK (rather than Alleycat) to give us an example of the format he's being given the numbers in. Smile
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AllyCat
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

Try the "Click to open more information" in this website. Note that the example GR formats are NOT for the same location. Many of the "OS Opendata" files actually use the Easting/Northing format.

Cheers, Alan.
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STBOUK
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies.

Here is an example of the fix coordinates as included in the call out SMS. Note that for obvious reasons this is a fictitious example (albeit one that works) rather than one from a real call out.

The string as received looks like this 427484253338 but when a space is put in the middle it becomes an easting and a northing like this 427484 253338.

We are currently trying use of www.nearby.org.uk to convert this to latitude and longitude which in the example I have given is 52.177618 -1.599489. This latitutude and longitude can then of course be keyed in to many GPS units available on the consumer market.

It is this manual step that we are trying to remove but to do so requires a GPS unit that accepts input of eastings and northings instead. None we have found so far does so but we want to find a cost effective model that does and then perform a group buy; one for each Responder. If none exists but a manufacturer is planning one, we are happy to trial it.

Thanks again for any help.


[Post edited for typos]
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AllyCat
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

You may need to clarify exactly what you require of the "GPS" and an acceptable price point. What about a Handheld GPS (which might not give voice instructions) or an iPhone (which won't be cheap)? I don't know if an iPhone app exists (yet) or if anyone could be persuaded to write a suitable Android app.

The problem is that most/all "satnavs" are intended for a "World" market but OSGB and Easting/Northing formats are UK specific. I suggest that you look towards the OSGB format which is more familiar (witness this thread) and potentially might be slightly less prone to errors when copying all the digits.

Out of interest, I fired up my PPC and it took precisely one minute to open TomTom, select the OSGPSconverter icon (integrated into the TT menu), enter the 12 (E/N) digits, create the POI and view it on the map (or I could have set it as a destination). It's on the A429 just north of mobile 8029. Smile

Cheers, Alan.
_________________
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sussamb
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Understand the problem as I'm in an ambulance service down south, and am also a mod on a gps forum. Unfortunately I don't think there is any automobile GPS that will do what you want. However there are a number of handhelds that allow you to input grid refs, but I have no idea how good they then might be in navigating you on roads to the location you want. If you google satmap that will give you an idea of what might be achievable.
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MaFt
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say that the format is not particularly common. I wonder if it is worth you asking 'the people' if they can use the more common lat/lon coordinate in decimal degrees? If it helps with the job and allows you to use a standard satnav to get to people then I'm sure it's something they would consider looking into?

MaFt
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STBOUK
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, All, and especially sussamb and AllyCat. Yes, I was careful to choose a valid easting and northing, albeit one at complete random so it isn't even close to where we may have been called to operate.

The manual workaround being tried by some of the Responders takes a similar length of time to the different one you used, but we are trying even to save this minute as well reduce the number of error-potential steps involved; we really do want to enter eastings and northings directly and this rules out other tools such as POIedit too.

Unfortunately we are not going to persuade the ambulance service to move away from eastings and northings to any other format, be it OSGB, lat & long, or anything else that might exist; our SMS message comes from the same source system as is used to dispatch their crews and program their GPS units automatically over the air.

The smartphone idea is a good one but here I couldn't find (at least for my Android device) a suitable app when I looked a couple of weeks ago.

A further complicating factor that I didn't mention is that the destination must not be constrained to a real address; if it's in the middle of a field, so be it and "the destination is not near a known point of interest" or similar message that my TomTom gives is not acceptable. The device must navigate as close as it can using public roads, bridleways, and footpaths.

Accepting your point about "UK specific vs world market" it seems like what we like is unlikely ever to exist. Quite a shame as the software modification required (GUI and algorithm or look-up table) is not rocket science and a pretty good potential market exists to use it.

I will however look at handhelds since we are operating in a known geographical area and having the location *may* be enough of an advantage compared to other navigation methods.

Cheers.
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Oldboy
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AllyCat wrote:
The problem is that most/all "satnavs" are intended for a "World" market but OSGB and Easting/Northing formats are UK specific.
To complicate matters Easting/Northing are Zone specific, not UK.

See http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-coordconvert/
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STBOUK
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Oldboy! I can now go and get a free pint as I didn't think they were UK specific but was persuaded by a colleague that they are!
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MaFt
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

STBOUK wrote:

Unfortunately we are not going to persuade the ambulance service to move away from eastings and northings to any other format, be it OSGB, lat & long, or anything else that might exist; our SMS message comes from the same source system as is used to dispatch their crews and program their GPS units automatically over the air.

A further complicating factor that I didn't mention is that the destination must not be constrained to a real address; if it's in the middle of a field, so be it and "the destination is not near a known point of interest" or similar message that my TomTom gives is not acceptable. The device must navigate as close as it can using public roads, bridleways, and footpaths.


I would say then that you are unlikely to find such a unit on the high street. SatNav's, in general, are for getting to addresses. Few will be able to route you off road (kinda defeats the object of a road navigation device!).

My only other suggestion is to try get one of the devices that Ambulances use. That way you know it will work with the current set up.

MaFt
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