What is it? It is…

Posted June 14, 2018 at 5:00 am

j IDOT workers installing 2.tif

By Julie Ann Madden

Some thought it was a new entrance sign welcoming people to the Akron community.

But it is not.

It’s an Iowa Department of Transportation’s GPS system site, according to IDOT Statewide Real Time Network Coordinator Steve Milligan.

When IDOT officials closed Akron’s maintenance facility, they lost their GPS Real Time Network (RTN)base site.

The state has 83 RTN bases around the state, explained Milligan.

“We’re just getting it replaced to fill in the hole in our network that was caused by the closing of the Akron garage,” he said, noting they had been seeking funding and researching replacement locations.

IDOT officials built this RTN system in 2008, said Milligan. “We use it for surveying and construction.”

“Plus our network is free for anyone to use since state money is involved,” he said. “Our biggest user is ag producers who use it for planting and harvesting.”

Anyone can go to the IDOT website and register to use it, said Milligan. “The way the network operates is you’ve got to be connected to the internet when using it.”

Most people have internet access through their cellular phone’s data services, he said. They will have those costs and the cost to buy equipment to use the system.

“Besides the DOT, there are a lot of cities, counties and other state departments that use it,” said Milligan. “With our crews, it used to take us a week or two (for surveying and construction), now it takes us a day or less so it saves us money.”

“It gives your position in Real Time,” he said. “Anywhere you have GPS, it will give you your location in Real Time. This will give you inch-accuracy anywhere in the state”

“Farmers and surveyors have been using it for years,” said Milligan, explaining without this GPS system, people had to carry a portal base and set it up every time they needed accurate locations. “Our system helps people quite a bit that way.”

Although the new Akron location site looks like it’s finished, Milligan said it will still be a few weeks before it’s completed.

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