Newsline: November 2008

November 1, 2008
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DoD Sets End Date for Codeless, Semi-Codeless GPS Support; ASPRS Foundation Provides Seed Money for PBS Documentary on Mapping; GIS Certification Institute Implements GISP Renewal Process; and NOAA Corbin Training Center Launches its First Full Year of Courses

DoD Sets End Date for Codeless, Semi-Codeless GPS Support

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) established Dec. 31, 2020, as the date that support of codeless/semi-codeless access to GPS will cease. “Hopefully, this will be a smooth, natural evolution for the whole industry,” said Jason Kim, senior policy analyst for the Office of Space Commercialization. The date, which was based on projected budgets and current launch schedules, depends on the availability of at least 24 GPS satellites broadcasting the second and third coded civil GPS signals. If significant GPS program delays occur, the transition date will be reassessed, according to the Federal Register announcement published in September.

Over the next 12 years, land surveyors and others who use semi-codeless/codeless receiving equipment, which exploits encrypted military GPS signals to obtain high-accuracy measurements, are expected to transition to GPS civil-coded signals. “Everyone who needs high accuracy is going to have to re-equip by the year 2020 with updated equipment that is capable of receiving the new L2 signals, L2C,” said Kim, who was involved in the deliberations leading to the decision. “Most surveyors are going to want to upgrade their equipment anyway because we’re modernizing and adding new capabilities. We’re not just adding a second civil signal, we’re adding a third civil signal, and with all three, you’ll be able to acquire the high accuracy much faster, and you’ll have robustness against interference.”

The DoD provides GPS Standard Positioning Service (SPS) free of direct-user fees on a continuous, worldwide basis for peaceful civil, scientific and commercial uses. For high-accuracy civil applications, users must access at least two civil signals. Civil users gain access to encrypted military GPS signals, L1 P(Y) and L2 P(Y), by using codeless or semi-codeless technology. The second coded civil GPS signal, L2C, is planned for broadcast from 24 GPS satellites in 2016; the third coded civil GPS signal, L5, is planned for broadcast from 24 GPS satellites in 2018. “Full operational capability of the L2C and L5 GPS signals in combination with the existing L1 C/A signal will enable the full spectrum of dual-frequency applications without using the P(Y) signals,” the Federal Register states. “After the planned transition date, the characteristics of the L1 P(Y) and L2 P(Y) signals transmitted by any or all GPS satellites broadcasting two or more civil-coded signals may change without further notice and may preclude the use of P(Y) coded signals for high accuracy applications.”

The decision to end the support of codeless/semi-codeless GPS followed a May 2008 notice and request for comments published in the Federal Register issued by the Office of Space Commercialization, a policy organization within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Commerce that fosters the economic growth and technological advancement of the U.S. commercial space industry. For more information, go to

ASPRS Foundation Provides Seed Money for PBS Documentary on Mapping

The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Foundation Inc. granted $40,000 to Penn State Public Broadcasting (PSPB) in September to fund Phase I of The Evolution of Modern Mapping initiative, a proposed documentary and public-awareness outreach examining the benefits and challenges that exist in a world in which anyone with an Internet connection can access, navigate and analyze the landscape. “Geospatial technology has a significant impact on individuals’ lives, the way they work, the way they do business, the way the society functions,” said Karen Schuckman, ASPRS past president. “For the most part, the general public is pretty unaware of what all that spatial technology offers them--or even how it works.”

Phase I project development will include the compilation of interviews with industry pioneers, background research, and a feasibility study for a proposed 60- to 90-minute documentary and the public-outreach component, which will coincide with local broadcasts of the film. If sufficient funding is raised--an estimated $500,000 to $750,000−the documentary, “You Are Here: The Evolution of Modern Mapping,” will examine the role of surveying, photogrammetry, remote sensing and GIS in safety and security, geopolitics, and personal productivity. Category topics will cover the history of mapping; the use of geospatial technology in daily life; the role of mapping in national defense, politics, communication, law enforcement and disaster management; the effect of GIS on commerce, human rights, energy policy and climate change; privacy and legal issues; GIS innovations in transportation and exploration; and the future of geospatial technology.

The project came together over 18 months as a “congealing of mutual interests,” said Schuckman, who is currently a professor of geography at Penn State University’s (PSU) Dutton e-Education Institute. “ASPRS was looking for a way to tell the story, to tell the history of our profession to celebrate our 75th anniversary,” she said. PSPB is part of Penn State University Outreach and a PBS and NPR affiliate, and PSU is a national leader in GIS education. In addition to being involved in a statewide LiDAR and orthophoto project 18 months ago, PSU has three online post-baccalaureate credentials in GIS. “Penn State also has one of the top geography programs in the country,” Schuckman said, “so there are a lot of people locally who can support the initiative.”

Projected for completion by 2010, the documentary will be offered nationwide to public television stations. A companion Web site and educational materials will also be available. Land surveyors are invited to assist with both the documentary project development and outreach component. “Surveying is a huge, important piece of the story,” Schuckman said. “In fact, it can’t really be told without it.” For more information, go to

GIS Certification Institute Implements GISP Renewal Process

The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) in September finalized the mandatory renewal requirements for Geographic Information Systems Professional certification (GISP) and commenced the five-year renewal process for credentials earned October 2003 and later. “The GIS field is ever evolving,” said Doug Bernius, GISCI certification manager, “and this [renewal process] helps ensure [that] candidates keep up with the field and are staying involved.”

Initial GISP certification is primarily based on technical capabilities; certification renewal emphasizes professional development. In accordance with the GISCI Code of Ethics, which obligates the GISP to maintain currency as well as qualifications, the GISCI board of directors determined that a minimum of 40 points is required to renew GISP certification. To ensure a broad foundation, points may be earned under three categories: Course and Conference, Contributions to the Profession, and Work Experience.

According to point schedules found in the “GISP Renewal of Certification Procedures Manual,” a minimum of 10 points must be earned in the Course and Conference (Educational) category. One point is equivalent to six professional-development hours from relevant course or conference attendance. An additional 10 points must be accumulated in the Contributions to the Profession category. Points are earned according to a table of activity values provided in the renewal application. For example, active membership in an industry association earns three points per year.

“We set the renewal process up so that individuals should acquire [the majority of] points in Course and Conference (Educational) areas and Contributions to the Profession,” Bernius said. “If they cannot get enough points in those areas we added an experience section that allows them to write a short essay about their work experience over the last five years of their GISP certification.” In this optional Work Experience category, 10 points are awarded for each 12 months of full-time equivalent (FTE) work experience for a maximum of 20 points. Twenty additional points may be earned from any combination of Course and Conference, Contributions to the Profession, and Work Experience points.

Renewal applicants have one year from their renewal date to submit documentation. For complete requirements and the renewal application materials, go to For more information on the GIS Certification Institute, visit

NOAA Corbin Training Center Launches its First Full Year of Courses

The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) released its 2009 calendar of training courses to be held at the Corbin Training Center (CTC) in Virginia. The calendar represents the first full year of classes at CTC, which was established by NOAA’s NGS in 2007. “The Corbin Training Center is a critical component of NGS’ mission to transfer positioning technology to other organizations,” NGS Director Dave Zilkoski said.

The mission of the center is to provide high-quality training to improve the geodetic positioning capacity of NOAA’s internal and external partners as well as NGS employees. Courses typically address NGS-required activities, procedures and standards. Depending on the topic, some courses are restricted to NGS or NOAA employees. However, many classes are open to local, state and federal government employees and private organizations. “The training center has been instrumental in improving communication and collaboration with NGS customers,” Zilkoski said. “It has opened up two-way communication between stakeholders enabling everyone to obtain a better understanding of each other’s requirements and common goals. This interaction has improved products and services of both NGS and our partners.”

The 2009 schedule of nonrestricted courses includes digital leveling, introduction to geodetic and tidal datums, height modernization, geodetic leveling, introduction to CORS, CORS for advanced users, real-time kinematic positioning, PAGES and ADJUST, river and valley crossings, GPS derived heights, and relative gravity collection. Webinar options are available.

The CTC is located in Corbin, Va., approximately 90 minutes south of Silver Spring, Md., and 60 minutes south of Washington, D.C. The course calendar and registration information are available at

Associate Editor Wendy Lyons compiles “Newsline.” Contact her at 248/786-1620 or lyonsw@bnpmedia.

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