Iowa Real-Time Network


IaRTN SmartNet

In 2006, the Iowa Department of Transportation conducted a business model study to examine the potential models for the deployment and operations of a statewide Real Time Kinematic (RTK) Global Positioning System (GPS) network. The study results helped the Iowa DOT develop a business model that best suited the DOT's and the State of Iowa’s needs. Under the selected model, the network uses existing Iowa DOT facilities and wide area network (WAN) communications infrastructure. In addition, the DOT owns the network hardware and software, maintains the hardware, and contracts out the network software support/service.

After a thorough evaluation process, including a written proposal and installation of demonstration networks by competing firms, Leica Geosystems was selected to install and support the IaRTN. The first 80 base stations were installed in the last half of 2008, and the network went online Feb. 2, 2009. Data from the IaRTN base stations along Iowa’s borders are shared with other DOT RTK networks in Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. In return, those three networks share the data from their base stations along the Iowa border with the IaRTN. The sharing enhances all three networks along the border areas. Currently the network consists of 103 base stations (83 Iowa DOT sites, 10 Minnesota DOT sites and 3 Wisconsin DOT sites).

In 2018, the network hardware was replaced, and the operating software was upgraded to take advantage of new technology not available in 2008. The network was upgraded to a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network, using the satellite constellations of the United States (GPS), Russia (Glonass) and the European Union (Galileo). The network provides users centimeter positioning statewide. The Iowa DOT uses the centimeter positioning for surveying, engineering and geographical information system (GIS) applications, along with machine control. The network is also available to federal, state, county, city, quasi-public and private sector users without charge. Machine control by the agricultural sector is one of the biggest network users.