How do I ensure exact location accuracy?

I know what it’s like. I visited a few small ponds over a short period of time. They were all very similar and close together. Weeks later, I finally started uploading the observations only to release I didn’t know which pond I had observed the species at! It also didn’t help that I couldn’t remember the names of the ponds either.

Quite a few observations had to have their locations corrected. To see what I mean, take a look at the amount of small ponds near Canada’s Wonderland. There are a lot!


I have a camera that can connect to smartphone to get GPS-Data. That often fails because I have to redo it every time I start the camera. As a remedy I take pictures with my smartphone while moving around. As a result I have photos with and without GPS data. When I upload both types in one batch and locate those with no data, the upload dialog shows where I have made observations with GPS. From there it is easy to point to a spot half way between two located observations an expand the circle of uncertainty to their those neigbours or making a better guess looking at time and landmarks.
Sometimes I use photos with no observation at all to get the GPS data during the upload process and delete them just before I press the upload button.

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There certainly are programs that will do this – GPicSync is the one I’ve used. (Then I found out that Garmin’s Basecamp will as well…) They may need the location data in a particular format, though.


For some reason on iPhone, we have to take 3 photos sometimes to get an accurate and refined geotag.

I’ll offer a suggestion. A downside of cameras with GPS is that they use up batteries quickly. So your camera might have been designed to turn it off, then wake it up when you need it. I’d suspect there’s someother option to wake it up. Of course, I have been wrong…

Pretty much all been said above, but here’s my version.

For something like a flying wedge-tailed eagle, Location Accuracy (LA) can be 5km. I try to guess where it is, not where my camera is. For the nest, easy to find again, it could be 50m. For specific small plants, maybe a 20cm high orchid buried in long grass, a GPS won’t provide enough LA, so say 5 or 10m, but mark with a flag, or carefully describe landmarks, eg 2.3m @ 295 degrees from a big rock, 4.7m @ 170 deg from a broken tree. And describe it - ‘dog vomit slime mold on south side of dead tree’

Liberal but careful use of notebook, compass, tape measure. Even a cheap laser range finder.

Other than that, I have a camera without GPS, so I use a phone app (or a real GPS) to record a track, then produce a .gpx file.

Then I use GPSprune, GPScorelate or similar. Google: ‘Geotagging Software’ They work by lining up timestamps between the GPS track and the photo to work out the location of the photo, and then add geolocation data hidden inside my .jpg’s. So you do have to carefully align the time of your camera with the GPS, and a forgotten Daylight Saving change is annoying (but can be dealt with)

You’ll have to research and adapt from the above outline, for your own software, image format, etc. eg lots of image formats won’t hold exif data, but might work some other way.

Useful for indexing, GPSprune (and others?) can produce a .kmz with thumbnails, so you can stick that on Google Earth to visually keep track of where you were.

Like everything, including using iNat, there’s a learning curve, but after the 3rd time it seems easy.