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March 26, 2002
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Sokkia Goes Back to Basics

Sokkia Corporation of Olathe, Kan., is going “Back to Basics.” Tak Oda, the company’s president and chief executive officer, announced in March that its Sokkia Measuring System chain of retail stores in the United States were sold to a group of entrepreneurs—gentleman not so estranged from the progressive company themselves. Sokkia Corporation’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Michael S. Adkins, General Manager of Product Support Service Robert J. Peterson and Corporate Controller Kenneth R. Kost are the owners in a new venture known as FieldWorks.

The trio converted the 10 current Sokkia Measuring Systems stores located in Orange and San Diego, Calif.; Denver; Kansas City, Kan.; Corpus Christi, Dallas and San Antonio, Texas; Minneapolis; Indianapolis; and Tampa, Fla., to the new FieldWorks brand in April. FieldWorks continues to represent Sokkia products but does not maintain any affiliation with Sokkia Corporation.

“Sokkia Corporation is pleased to pass the ownership of our retail division over to such a talented and proven group of individuals,” Oda said. “When we were approached with the idea of selling the stores, we were immediately intrigued. We saw the ideal opportunity to divest ourselves of the retail sales channel. This represents a most significant step toward our commitment to get “Back to Basics,” which is, coincidentally, our corporate slogan for 2002. We welcome the opportunity to once again concentrate our energies fully upon serving the needs of the more than 500 Sokkia independent dealers across the United States. Maintaining a leadership position as a top manufacturer of surveying, engineering and construction instruments in the world will continue to be our number one priority.”

“We are excited for the privilege to lead this unique enterprise into the future,” Adkins said. We recognize that the opportunity exists to become the kind of professional resource that customers seek and appreciate but rarely find. Although some things may change, our motivation will remain the same. FieldWorks will continue to be staffed by the most talented, experienced and capable sales and service professionals in the world.

“Unparalleled value and service, which have been synonymous with Sokkia Measuring Systems, are our founding principles. We will continue to focus on the professional sales and service of surveying, engineering and construction instruments, equipment and supplies, but the future will also bring additional products and technologies that will supplement and enhance our offerings. We are open to all possibilities.”

FieldWorks began official operations on April 1, 2002. Adkins, Peterson and Kost resigned their positions with Sokkia Corporation effective March 31, 2002.

ASPRS Sets A New Plan.

With a changing and promising industry, the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, or ASPRS: the Imaging and Geospatial Information Society, recently developed a new Strategic Plan for its future and the future of its members. The elements of the Plan are designed to aid in effective decision-making and organization for the broad cross section of ASPRS members.

The original Strategic Plan of 1993-1994 was a compilation list of items and ideas that weren’t organized in an understandable and usable form. Nor was the Plan of that time distributed to every member; those who designed it were its primary users. The new Plan has been distributed to every member of the ASPRS organization and will be provided to every new member as helpful guidelines for professional achievement.

The goals set forth in the Strategic Plan represent the focus of the organization and the path the society will follow in the years to come. The measure of how well the organization has achieved its goals will be how well all aspects of the organization adopt and follow these guidelines on the national, regional and local levels. Each division of the organization will apply the Plan’s goals to its specialty area, according to Executive Director Jim Plasker. Each area has held and will in the future hold meetings to make a plan to “drive” their efforts of meeting the ASPRS goals. A system of checks and balances, Plasker said, will be apparent through evident implementation efforts. ASPRS will also award one region for its substantial efforts every year, providing another incentive to successful implementation of the Plan.

The Plan was developed with input from a wide range of members during the past year. Its goals and specific objectives include: Enhancing awareness of geospatial information; Developing standards and guidelines for emerging technologies; Strengthening student programs; Promoting certification and appropriate licensing; Fostering communications; and Ensuring continued organizational strength and financial stability. The ASPRS Strategic Plan’s full text can be found on the Society’s website at www.asprs.org/society.

“I’m encouraged about its use already,” Plasker said, adding that some areas have already begun strong efforts to implement the Plan and meet the organization’s goals.



Michigan CORS station.

MDOT Builds Innovative GPS System

To address the need for greater accuracy and timesavings, the Design Survey Division of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has implemented an entirely new approach to GPS Reference Station implementation and has set a new standard in GPS spatial reference data collection.



Leica RS500 receiver installation station in Saginaw, Michigan.
The approach—one of the first of its kind—is an active reference GPS system of 16 stationary GPS receivers across the state. MDOT hopes to have 30 stations once the system is complete. Dubbed the Michigan Spatial Reference Network (MSRN, also known as the GPS Ground Reference System) of Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS), these receivers constantly monitor and record GPS signals. The data is then saved on the Internet where it can be downloaded and post-processed against a rover unit’s data. Better yet? It’s free. That’s right, the web link, www.mdotcors.org/, can provide information on system availability, scheduled down times and much more to MDOT crews and private sector surveyors one hour after its collection. The MSRN provides complete coverage of the State of Michigan with precise, accurate and continual GPS data capture 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

This MSRN system has enabled Michigan surveyors to perform their GPS work at a much higher degree of accuracy than ever before envisioned, while at the same time providing integrity checking on the collected data prior to the posting of it to the Web.

“The integrity checking is key to eliminating any sort of errors in the posted data, which could result in survey errors on the ground,” said Richard R. Sauve II, the Michigan technical sales representative for Leica Geosystems, Norcross, Ga., who supported receiver setup for the system.

The GPS receivers used for the system are Leica RS 500 receivers with Leica AT504 Choke Ring antenna (Leica Geosystems, Norcross, Ga.). Each antenna is mounted on a spun aluminum column four inches in diameter and eight feet high called an Earlconic. The columns are reinforced with aluminum gussets extending four feet high and are bolted to concrete pillars with a two-foot diameter, extending 12 feet into the ground and three to five feet above the ground.

Each GPS receiver collects GPS satellite data once a second. Each station streams its data to a central server for data integrity monitoring through Leica’s IroNet, which ensures that the data are correct and complete. The raw data are converted to RINEX 2 format and natively stored as one-hour blocks on MDOT’s web server for access by users.

The website allows users to designate the data and concatenate hourly blocks of data from any or all of the CORS. Users can then download the full one-second data or request the data in 5-, 10-, 15- or 30-second intervals. Data is stored for 60 days before it is overwritten by new data.

“As is the case with any precision differential GPS survey, we [surveyors] wish to reference to the State Plane Coordinate grid. We need to start from a known point and observe sufficient existing geodetic control stations to ensure proper orientation and scaling of the newly positioned locations,” Sauve said. In the past (before June 2001), this task required the GPS surveyor to reconnoiter and occupy these stations in order to bring these positions to the local survey area. There has always been potential logistical problems associated with occupying existing control stations: they may be on private property or in inaccessible areas, be obstructed with trees, have been obliterated, or have erroneous coordinates associated with them. At any rate with any given project, any two GPS surveyors could potentially come up with different answers depending on which control stations were selected to control the survey. The Michigan Spatial Reference Network eliminates the majority of these problems by enabling all GPS surveyors in the State of Michigan to use the same stations for the same projects. It completely eliminates the need to physically occupy the existing control locations, thereby eliminating a large number of man-hours and lost survey production time.”

“This enhances an already great tool for delivering our road and bridge improvement program,” said State Transportation Director Gregory J. Rosine. “It’s taken a lot of the legwork out of using GPS to provide quality survey information in less time.”

Michigan surveyors also cemented a unique arrangement with the National Geodetic Survey called Combo CORS. The NGS offers the National CORS and the Cooperative CORS, a system that provides access to GPS data disseminated by organizations other than the National Geodetic Survey. Richard Snay, manager of the National CORS program, said Michigan was the impetus for the Combo CORS program initiated last fall. In the Combo CORS system, data from a Cooperative CORS site may also be available from NGS.

“Michigan had developed their own network independently,” Snay said. “They were going to be part of Cooperative CORS, but becoming part of National CORS offers more benefits.”

One of these benefits is the Online Positioning User Service (OPUS), a means to provide GPS users easier access to the National Spatial Reference System.

“Through our discussions, we developed a setup so that the NGS can not only link users to our site, but the data from our sites is used in OPUS computations and our system is incorporated into the National CORS network,” Michigan Supervising Land Surveyor Brian Dollman-Jersey said. “That had not been done before. A few states are going that route now.”



Earlconic MSRN station in Jackson, Michigan.
The system is not only a major breakthrough for the surveying community, but it also lays the basic infrastructure in the state for future technology relying on spatial reference. As the system grows, it could have an impact on things such as GIS, tracking the location of commodity shipping via road or rail, locations of emergency service vehicles, Intelligent Transportation Systems, seed and fertilizer placement for agriculture, snowplow and salt placements. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is installing meteorologic sensors at each MDOT station to enhance precipitation forecast accuracy around Michigan.

“This system is really very forward-thinking,” Sauve said.

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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