Monday, April 05, 2010

Convert Garmen GPS Waypoints and Tracks Directly to GIS Shapefiles

Last week I was preparing for field work when I encountered a technical issue. ArcGIS would not synch up with my GPS unit. After trying and failing to get ArcGIS to synch I decided to use Garmin' MapSource program to download the waypoints and tracks and then upload them to ArcGIS. However, MapSource would not allow me to save my data in shapefile (.SHP) format. (To make matters worse my field laptop cannot handle Google Earth so I feared I was doomed).

Fortunately; however, I managed to find the Minnesotan Department of Natural Resource's Garmin Application. The program allow gives "users the ability to directly transfer data between Garmin GPS handheld receivers and various GIS software packages. Using this program a user can use point features (graphics or shapefile) and upload them to the GPS as Waypoints. Line and Polygon Graphics or shapes can be uploaded to the GPS as Track Logs or Routes. Conversely, Waypoints, Track Logs, and Routes collected using the GPS can be transferred directly to ArcView/ArcMap/Google Earth/Landview and saved as Graphics or Shapefiles."

So this program allows for easy back and forth data sharing between GIS and GPS. While many GIS programs now allow for easy data sharing this program can be of use to geographers and others who for some reason or another lack that ability.

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