Antwerp, Belgium

Collecting street level pictures with centimetric geolocation at low cost

Antoine Riche

Street level pictures are very useful to contribute to OSM data, 360° pictures are even more useful, and what's even more useful is to have thousands and thousands of precisely geolocated 360° pictures. How can this be achieved efficiently and at low cost ?

At Carto’Cité we designed and built the RTK360 kit, a low-tech solution that achieves this goal. It combines a 360° action cam such as the GoPro Max or Ricoh Theta Z1, together with the Sparkfun RTK Surveyor. RTK stands for Real Time Kinematic, this is a satellite navigation system (GNSS) that achieves centimeter-level accuracy by applying corrections provided by a reference station. Networks of RTK stations have existed for years, but they require costly equipment and a costly subscription to obtain the correction data.

However this is changing now : the Centipede network is a freely accessible network of RTK stations that covers a large part of France and is quickly extending over Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary. This growth has been made possible thanks to RTKBase, an open source and open hardware RTK station designed by Stéphane PÉNEAU, an amazing maker and Carto’Cité associate. This means you too can build an RTK station and an RTK rover, and enjoy taking and sharing thousands and thousands of 360° pictures with centimeter-level accuracy.