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September 1, 2004
Illinois marks Center of Population and U.S. and EU agree on GPS-Galileo cooperation.

Participants in the Illinois Center of Population dedication ceremony included (from left to right): Shawn R. VanKampen, PLS, IPLSA president; Tim Burch, PLS, Center of Population coordinator; Dr. Chris Pearson, NGS Illinois geodetic advisor; Bob Church, IPLSA executive director; Susan Giddings, mayor of Mazon; Andrew Wzorek, Mazon Baptist Church pastor; and Donald Groesser, PLS, IPLSA Northeast Chapter president.

Illinois Marks Center of Population

The Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA) and the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) dedicated the State of Illinois Center of Population on July 10, 2004, in the village of Mazon. The Center of Population, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, is 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.

More than 60 miles southwest of Chicago, Mazon is located at 41°14'23" North, 88°25'30" West and has a population of 904. A permanent Center of Population marker was placed at the edge of a park in Mazon by Donald G. Groesser, PLS, president of the IPLSA Northeast Chapter. Additional members of the Northeast Chapter occupied the monument to collect its coordinate value. The brass monument features the logos of the IPLSA and the NGS, an outline map of Illinois showing the location of Mazon amd a silhouette of Abraham Lincoln holding a surveyor's compass. Tim Burch, PLS, of the Northeast Chapter coordinated the project, and Dr. Chris Pearson, NGS Illinois geodetic advisor, and Bob Church, IPLSA executive director, both spoke at the dedication ceremony. Church also presented a framed print featuring Lincoln as a surveyor to Susan Giddings, the mayor of Mazon, to commemorate the day.

U.S. and EU Agree on GPS-Galileo Cooperation

On June 26, 2004, after more than four years of negotiation, the United States and the European Union (EU) formally agreed to make their global navigation satellite systems interoperable. The U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and Europe's proposed Galileo system had long been considered competitors, but now the two countries have arranged to share technical information for the purpose of establishing a common signal for civilian use.

The "Agreement on the Promotion, Provision, and Use of Galileo and GPS Satellite-Based Navigation Systems and Related Applications" was signed at Dromoland Castle in Shannon, Ireland, by Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, EU Vice President Loyola de Palacio and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

At the signing ceremony, Powell thanked all those who had been part of pushing forward the agreement. Powell said, "It's been difficult work, but we never gave it up. We stuck with it, and now we see the results of that hard labor."

Powell also explained in more detail the parameters of the agreement. "The agreement manages to balance the competition that is inherent in the commercial dimension of satellite navigational technology with the cooperation necessary for the security dimension. This agreement also establishes a framework for ongoing U.S.-EU cooperation in the field of satellite navigation. GPS-Galileo capabilities will open up major opportunities for scientific research and creative engineering, enabling new applications, applications that we haven't even begun to think of yet, and also for the development of new technologies. And the agreement paves the way for the two systems to eventually broadcast a common civil signal, which will double the number"¦ of satellites working within a compatible framework. This, in turn, will ensure the safety and availability of satellite navigation technology for transportation technology ... worldwide."

Currently, Galileo is in a development phase, and the first two satellites of the system are expected to launch at the end of 2005. The system is scheduled to become operational in 2008.