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May 28, 2002
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NAD 83 Coordinates of CORS Sites Upgraded; New Radionavigation Plan Focuses on GPS as Primary Means of Navigation; Brooks Act Amendments Submitted; ASPRS Presents Its International Literature Award in Mapping Sciences; Yearlong celebrations commemorate the Great Arc; and NACE Holds Annual Conference.

NAD 83 Coordinates of CORS Sites Upgraded

The advancement of GPS technology and methodologies has reached the point that, without much effort, relative positioning of points with respect to the National CORS sites can be accomplished with subcentimeter-level accuracies. Accordingly, the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) has upgraded NAD 83 positions and velocities for all CORS sites, except those located on Pacific Islands, so that they equal the transformed values of recently computed ITRF00 positions and velocities. The applied transformation equations are given at http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/CORS/metadata1.

This upgrade will remove inconsistencies among previously published NAD 83 positions and velocities that are detectable with modern high accuracy GPS surveys. These inconsistencies would have corrupted results obtained with the OPUS (Online Positioning User Service) utility that uses CORS positions and velocities to compute accurate positions for other points. (For more information on OPUS, see our online feature.)

Moreover, for each CORS site, NGS will now provide NAD 83 positional coordinates that are referenced to an epoch date of 2002.00. That is, the published coordinates for a site’s position will correspond to this site’s location on January 1, 2002. The site’s velocity needs to be applied to compute the site’s position on any other date.

Previously, NAD 83 positions for the CORS sites were published for an epoch date of 1997.00 (January 1, 1997). The use of the more current epoch date will reduce those systematic errors occurring when points are positioned relative to CORS sites without applying appropriate site velocities. This more current epoch date will especially benefit those involved in positioning activities in areas of active crustal motion, like the western conterminous U.S. and Alaska.

New Radionavigation Plan Focuses on GPS as Primary Means of Navigation

In March, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announced the release of the 2001 Federal Radionavigation Plan (FRP), which continues to strengthen the U.S. commitment to the Global Positioning System and its modernization as a primary means of navigation in support of the U.S. transportation infrastructure.

“GPS offers us the capability to improve our quality of life through application across almost every mode of transportation,” said Secretary Mineta. “However, the transition to GPS from current systems and the determination of what part of the current radionavigation infrastructure to retain is a complex matter involving government, industry and users. We are seeking a sensible transition to satellite-based navigation services as our primary means of navigation, while recognizing the need to maintain backup navigation aids where required.”

The 2001 FRP includes revised schedules for phasing down most land-based radionavigation systems to allow more time to transition to GPS. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will continue the policy stated in the 1999 FRP to operate Loran-C in the short term while the administration continues to evaluate the long-term need for the system. The USDOT soon will be completing studies on Loran-C that will help make a decision on the system in 2002.

The FRP, a joint product of the Departments of Transportation and Defense, is mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1998, which also requires that the plan be revised and updated at least every two years. Secretary Mineta commended the DoD’s continuing cooperation in producing this policy and planning document.

Brooks Act Amendments Submitted

HB 3832, a bill containing provisions for amending the Brooks Act, was submitted by Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA) on March 4. The bill proposes a more expansive definition of surveying and mapping, and extends the Brooks Act to prime and subcontracts of federal agencies and grant recipients.

The Brooks Act was created to establish federal policy concerning the selection of firms and individuals to perform architectural, engineering and related services for the federal government.

Professional engineering services would be banned from the General Services Administration Schedule, a service for providing products and services to federal agencies. A pilot project would be created to assure that agencies have an adequate Architectural/Engineering (A/E) acquisition workforce. Surveying and mapping are included within the A/E definition in the Brooks Act.

Another provision of the bill is that small business set asides would be increased from the current $85,000 threshold to $300,000 for military construction agencies and all defense agencies.

At the end of April, executive comment was requested from the Department of Defense on HB 3832.

ASPRS Presents Its International Literature Award in Mapping Sciences

The University of Witwatersrand’s School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies in Johannesburg, South Africa, is the recipient of the 2002 American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) International Education Literature Award.

Each year, a university or educational institution outside the United States receives the award for the purpose of improving the quantity and quality of the literature in its mapping sciences library. The award consists of ASPRS publications including books, conference proceedings and a five-year subscription to Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing (PE&RS). ESRI Press (Redlands, Calif.) also supplied a complete collection of its books to be part of this year’s valuable literature award.

The geography curriculum at Witwatersrand was cited for its support of the geospatial technology program, which registers approximately 260 students each year in eight courses offered at all levels. Three different faculties teach the courses in GIS and remote sensing in the schools of geosciences, engineering, humanities and geography. Currently, the university library supports this student group with 67 books.

“With the addition of more than 30 titles, the geospatial library at the University of Witwatersrand will be able to broaden the scope of GIS information it delivers to its patrons,” said Jack Dangermond, president of ESRI, the world’s leading developer of geographic information system (GIS) software. “One of our goals at ESRI is to promote GIS awareness throughout the world, and we are happy to help ASPRS serve that purpose.”

ASPRS presented the award during its conference in April in Washington, D.C.

Yearlong celebrations commemorate the Great Arc

The Great Arc, a grand expedition conceived by Colonel William Lambton on April 10, 1802, was the longest measurement of the earth’s surface ever to have been attempted. Also known as the Great Trigonometric Survey, this 2,400 km survey took nearly 50 years, cost more lives than most contemporary wars, and involved equations more complex than any in the pre-computer age. Acknowledged by The Royal Geographical Society of UK as “the most significant contribution to the advancement of the science in the 19th century,” the survey is also the most minutely accurate land measurement on record. The accuracy of this scientific pursuit was all-important because the Arc had as much to do with physics, mathematics and astronomy as it did with mapping. It was not simply an attempt to measure a subcontinent but also to measure and compute the precise curvature of the globe. This grand mission has been accredited not only for the mapping of the entire Indian subcontinent, but also for the first accurate measurements of the Himalayas and exact values for the curvature of the Earth. The Arc significantly advanced the knowledge of the exact shape of our planet.

In April, the Department of Science and Technology of India and the Survey of India, commenced a yearlong celebration to commemorate the 200th anniversary of this most ambitious scientific endeavor. Announcing the series of events, Professor V. S. Ramamurthy secretary of the Department of Science and Technology of India, said, “We are organizing the yearlong events to commemorate this gigantic quest and to infuse interest into this field of spatial sciences. The major events for the year include the Treasure Quest, Geo Quest Quiz, Great Arc Exhibition, Great Arc Documentary Film Series, Great Arc Pictorial publication and many more.”

The celebrations commenced with a school level Treasure Quest that incorporated the same mapping techniques used by the great surveyors of the past. The objective was to excite schoolchildren about the much overlooked field of geospatial sciences. The activity required the participating teams to use a mixture of geographical, historical and scientific techniques to decipher clues that led them to the final destination. Ramamurthy and Dr. P. Nag, surveyor general of India, flagged off the contest at India Gate, and winners were awarded by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, union minister of human resource and development, science and technology.

Professor Ramamurthy, highlighting the significance of the survey in the contemporary world, said, “The Great Trigonometric Survey can be considered a foundation for all the topographical surveys. The endeavor not only has a massive contribution to all the topographical surveys ever conducted in the country, but also has a huge impact on the development of science and technology today. It is possible to claim that much of India’s infrastructural development, railways, national highways, telephone lines and power grids could not have taken place without the accurate maps which the measurement of the Great Arc made possible.”

NACE Holds Annual Conference

The National Association of County Engineers (NACE), an affiliate of the National Association of Counties (NACo), held its 2002 Annual Management and Technical Conference in San Diego, Calif., in March. The NACE has approximately 1,900 members in 50 states and Canada. Its objectives include advancing county engineering and management by providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information and fostering growth of individual state organizations of county engineers.

Each spring over 350 NACE members and other attendees gather for the annual conference. This year the conference welcomed 381 delegates and speakers, 140 guests and 180 exhibitor representatives. Highlights of the opening ceremonies included a presentation by Javier Gonzales, NACo president and the signing of a partnering agreement with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

At the conference, David L. Miller, P.E. and P.S., County Engineer, Medina County, Ohio, was installed as the new president. In his 29 years with Medina County, Ohio, the last 14 as county engineer, Miller has remained active in both NACE and the County Engineers Association of Ohio (CEAO), serving as its president in 1998. Miller was also the recipient of the 1994 Ohio County Engineer of the Year Award.

POB editors compiled this month’s stories for “The Latest News.” If you have a timely, newsworthy item, contact 248/244-6465 or E-mail vasse@bnp.com. Also visit www.pobonline.com for daily news updates.

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