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Topcon GNSS to assist Bridges to Prosperity efforts in Africa

November 23, 2020  - By

A shipping container with several pieces of key GNSS and survey instrumentation is bound for the East African country of Rwanda. The equipment, an in-kind donation from Topcon Positioning Group, will be used in support of Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), an organization committed to building trail bridges to improve the lives of people in rural areas worldwide.

Photo: Bridges to Prosperity

Photo: Bridges to Prosperity

According to B2P, almost a billion people around the world lack safe access to critical resources like healthcare, education, or employment due to an impassable river. Building safe, structurally sound trail bridges for people to travel by foot, bicycle, or motorcycle has an immediate, impactful effect on the lives of those in the area.

“We are fortunate that, even with challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to implement new safety measures with limited disruption to our building schedule,” said Devin Connell, B2P’s corporate program director. “Right now, our surveying efforts predominantly involve simple equipment such as auto levels and range finders, which can be time consuming when complex survey information is needed. The equipment from Topcon will increase our surveying capabilities, streamline the design process, and support us in building more trail bridges for isolated communities.”

Photo: Bridges to Prosperity

Photo: Bridges to Prosperity

In addition to the instruments — a pair of GNSS receivers, two total stations and data collectors — B2P will have access to the Topcon suite of software products, which will assist both the design process and the transfer of files from the field to their remote office or the engineering team working with them. According to Ron Oberlander, vice president of Topcon Global Professional Services group, however, the company’s role extends well past the equipment itself.

“We are excited to be a contributing part of this program,” he said. “But, in order for B2P to use these solutions to their fullest and increase their overall productivity, a training effort will be needed and we’re already setting plans in place for that to happen.

“In addition to conducting online virtual training sessions with B2P staff, we are making eLearning possible by allowing access to MyTopcon, our company knowledge portal. With these tools, they can gain familiarity with their receiver or total station or use the Topcon software to learn how to collect points — all without having us there. They want to be able to hit the ground running once the equipment arrives and this will help make that happen.”

Connell said that their improved survey capability will help accelerate the company’s bridge building. “We go out and survey a year in advance, looking at as many as 100 different remote sites and, tough as it might be, establish priorities with the local governments. We are looking forward to our continued growth in 2021 and, thanks to the generosity of companies like Topcon, that process will be a much better one.”

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.