GeoCarta Has Moved

Jan 16, 2006

If I Had A HAMMER...I'd Map The World

A New Zealand company called Surveylab, has licensed technology developed by the U.S. Army to produce an all-in-one mapping tool. The device, which the Army calls HAMMER, for Hand-held Apparatus for Mobile Mapping and Expedited Reporting combines a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver with a hand-held iPaq computer, a digital camera, compass, laser distance meter, inclinometer and Geographic Information System (GIS) software in one portable device.

Surveylab is marketing the device under the name ike to the real estate, civil engineering, and land surveying markets. The firm says that a key benefit of the unit is that having on-board GIS software allows the different kinds of information collected be integrated easily in a database, shown to a map, or turned into a report.

The device was originally developed by the Army's Construction Engineering Research Lab for an expansion at Fort Irwin, California. The area is the site of several ancient Native American archaeological sites. Officials involved in the expansion wanted a system that would predict where historic sites might be located on the fly.

About 150 of the units have been used by the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers in such places as Iraq and Afghanistan for projects such as laying out camps and recording environmental conditions. The Urbana/Champagne News-Gazette has a story on how the corps is using the unit to assess damage from hurricane Katrina.