Where technology brought us 

Heartland Towers Senior Community
1700 Hospital Rd
Silvis, IL

Homewood Manor Apartments
3425 60 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Super 8 Motel
2201 John Deere Expressway
East Moline, IL 61244

Pheasant Ridge
3500 70th St
Moline, IL

Watch Hill Tower
3705 9th St
Rock Island, IL 61201

GPS: high tech gives you the lowdown

By Pam Berenger, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

Global Positioning Systems -- high technology on low ground.

GPS technology is nearly everywhere, from cars, golf carts and boats to farmer's tractors and combines. There are even hand-held GPS devices hikers can use to pinpoint their location.

GPS devices use satellite transmissions to determine precise latitude, longitude and altitude. Typically, a minimum of three satellites are needed to determine longitude and latitude. More than 30 satellites are available.

Until the last decade, only the government had GPS technology. Today, it belongs to everyone and its uses seem endless. It helps military pilots bomb targets with pinpoint accuracy and civilian pilots know where they're landing.

Eventually all municipal vehicles could wind their way around the county using GPS and ``smart maps.''

Counties like Rock Island, Henry and Mercer are in the process of building Geographical Information Systems that will replace outdated soil maps used by county assessors.

The system will create various maps that can be used separately, or combined. For example, streets, water and sewer lines and underground cables could be on different maps. Homes and businesses could become another layer.

Bob McLeese, an Illinois soil scientist from Champaign, called it ``data to the fifth. The system allows you to collect, manage, manipulate, analyze and display any information pertaining to the area.''

Agriculture is another place where GPS and GIS will find a permanent home. New grid maps, and a GPS, will allow farmers to farm with a precision never before imagined.

With soil types and fertility built into maps, a farmer can compare yield variability, plant populations or weed pressure for any spot in the field. Then the farmer can apply herbicide or additional fertilizer only where it is needed.

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.