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The Latest News

August 1, 2004
Massachusetts marks Center of Population; Alabama passes right of entry clause to licensure law; NGS announces NSRS readjustment time frame; and U.S. Coast Guard initializes seamless DGPS service.

Massachusetts Marks Center of Population

On June 2, 2004, the Massachusetts Association of Land Surveyors and Civil Engineers (MALSCE) Inc. marked the state's Center of Population in Natick, Mass., which is 18 miles west of Boston. The Center of Population is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as the perfect balance point of the state, if the state were an imaginary, weightless, flat, rigid surface and all of the state's residents were of identical weight.

A monument installed to mark the state's Center of Record helped MALSCE and state residents to commemorate its significance. The marker was unveiled at a ceremony on June 2 in the presence of high school students and teachers, and local officials. MALSCE President Emily Holmberg, PLS, spoke at the ceremony: "For the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the U.S. Census Bureau has determined that the total population, as of the 2000 census, is 6,349,097 people and that the state's center of population lies at 42.271831 degrees north latitude and 71.363628 degrees west longitude."

Alabama Passes Right of Entry Clause to Licensure Law

The Alabama State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, with the help of the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors (ASPLS), successfully lobbied for an amendment to the Alabama Licensure Law in May. A new clause granting right of entry was added to the law to protect professional land surveyors who need to go on the land of others to perform surveys.

The amendment, Section 34-11-2d, states:

(1) A professional land surveyor may go on, over, and upon the lands of others which is not enclosed by any device installed to deter entry to or exit from industrial facilities or plant sites by humans or vehicles, if necessary to perform surveys for the location of section corners, quarter corners, property corners, boundary lines, rights-of-way, and easements, and may carry and utilize equipment and vehicles. Entry under the right granted in this subdivision shall not constitute trespass. A professional land surveyor shall not be liable to arrest or to a civil action for trespass by reason of this entry.

(2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as giving authority to a professional land surveyor to destroy, injure, damage, or move anything on the lands of another without the written permission of the landowner and nothing in this section shall be construed as removing civil liability for the damages.

(3) A professional land surveyor shall make reasonable effort to notify adjoining landowners upon whose land it is necessary to enter.

(4) No owner or occupant of the land shall be liable for any injury or damage sustained by any person entering upon his or her land under this subsection.

The amendment was passed by Alabama's legislature in early May and signed by Alabama's governor, Bob Riley. Although the amended law goes into effect at the beginning of this month, the Alabama Board of Licensure has not yet released rules defining what constitutes "reasonable effort" on the part of the land surveyor to notify landowners of entry. According to Regina Dinger, executive director of the board, after the rules have been proposed, they will be posted to www.bels.state.al.us. Those interested in reviewing the proposed language for the rules should continue to check the website for updates and to provide comments.

NGS Announces NSRS Readjustment Time Frame

The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) announced the time frame for the readjustment of horizontal positions and ellipsoid heights for the National Spatial Reference System's (NSRS) GPS stations. The readjustment of the NSRS will begin in June 2005 and is scheduled for completion no later than Feb. 10, 2007.

To be eligible for participation in the readjustment, GPS User Densification Network (UDN) projects must be submitted by June 1, 2005, and be ready for loading in the NGS Survey Database. Projects that are not ready for loading or that are sent in after that date will not participate in the adjustment.

U.S. Coast Guard Initializes Seamless DGPS Service with Canada

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Canadian Coast Guard have initialized a procedure to provide seamless Differential Global Positioning System (DPGS) service along the two countries' shared border.

DGPS offers increased positioning accuracy because GPS measurements are recorded at a reference station, which quantifies errors and applies corrections in real-time to mobile stations in a local area. According to Lieutenant John Schutzenhofer, a DGPS management section chief with the USCG, "The concept of providing seamless DGPS between the U.S. and Canada was brought up two or three years ago at the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities conference in Europe. Each country around the world that operates a DGPS system does so independently of the DGPS system of their neighboring countries. The members of the conference recognized that making these systems work seamlessly together would result in better availability and coverage." With these goals of increased availability and coverage in mind, attendees at the conference resolved that the United States and Canada would begin the international coordination of DGPS services.

According to Schutzenhofer, "The exchange of information between the U.S. and Canada is already taking place." Essentially, this means that the United States is increasing its coverage possibilities.

"Implementing seamless DGPS involves the exchange of information regarding the operation, maintenance and repair of the DGPS systems," Schutzenhofer said. He continued, "One benefit of this information exchange is to ensure that adjacent U.S. and Canadian DGPS sites are not both taken off air for maintenance at the same time, which would result in a lack of coverage. DGPS station almanac data will also be shared. By including the parameters of an adjacent Canadian DGPS site in the almanac of a U.S. site, the DGPS user's receiver will automatically switch to the adjacent Canadian DGPS site if the user loses the signal from the U.S. site. The Canadians will also include the parameters of adjacent U.S. sites in their almanacs."

Schutzenhofer concluded, "The U.S. has the parameters for the Canadian adjacent sites included in our almanacs; however, the Canadian Coast Guard must complete tests on their system before including U.S. parameters in their almanacs. They anticipate having the tests completed soon."

Associate Editor Kimberly Jensen compiles "The Latest News." If you have a timely, newsworthy item, contact her at 248/244-6465 or E-mail jensenk@bnpmedia.com. Also visit www.pobonline.com for daily news updates.