Point of Beginning

Newsline

January 1, 2007


On Nov. 15, 2006, more than 84 countries participated in events to commemorate the eighth annual GIS Day. As part of the National Geographic Society’s Geography Awareness Week, GIS Day offers GIS users an opportunity to inform people about the applications of geographic information system technology in an international forum.

For the seventh year in a row, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. participated in GIS Day at the National Zoo’s Amazonia Science Gallery to display Smithsonian GIS projects. More than 150 children and adults of all ages participated in hands-on exhibits to learn about GIS applications. The exhibits included animal tracking, regional mapping, and animated cartographic displays of global volcanism and earthquakes. Visitors had the opportunity to meet GIS research scientists, see their demonstrations, maps, videos and computer displays, and obtain career information.

In DeFuniak Springs, Fla., more than 200 visitors joined the Walton County GIS/IR Department at Okaloosa Walton College for GIS Day festivities. Representatives from a local software development company and area surveying firms, along with local electric companies and the county planning department, provided displays and demonstrations of their products. Visitors viewed aerial photography and 3D pictometry of the county, and learned about the advantages of LiDAR for the future planning of developments within the county.

In Delaware, Ohio, more than 400 students attended GIS Day demonstrations and a map gallery at Dempsey Middle School. As a user of GIS technology, the Delaware County Auditor showcased its DALIS (Delaware Appraisal Land Information System) Project via an open house and map gallery. Students viewed various maps from Delaware County’s different government entities who use GIS technology. Live demonstrations of GIS applications in the county and other parts of the world were also exhibited to the students.

Principle sponsors of GIS Day include the National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, the United States Geological Survey, the Library of Congress, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and ESRI. Although the official date of GIS Day 2006 was November 15, communities and organizations are encouraged to sponsor events throughout the year. GIS users and vendors are invited to join the GIS Day sponsors in opening their doors for the annual GIS Day. The ninth annual GIS Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007.

NSPS Develops Insurance Program Exclusive to Surveyors

The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) developed a new insurance program designed specifically for land surveyors to reduce business and personal insurance premium costs. The insurance package aims to secure insurable interests with a pricing structure and specialized coverage to meet the needs of any surveying business. According to Lisa Isom, president of Assurance Risk Managers Inc., one of two contracted insurance agents endorsed for this program, the structure and rating of the insurance program directly supports membership to NSPS. “Members are more than saving their membership fee with any one of these coverages,” she says. “NSPS put together a pricing advantage and expanded coverage specifically for members of NSPS. This is the first program of its kind, geared specifically to land surveyors.”

Implemented in April 2006, the program expanded the number of companies that offer Endorsed Professional Liabilities (Errors and Omissions) Insurance to NSPS members from one to four companies. These companies offer a variety of business insurance needs, including general liability, property insurance, inland marine (surveying equipment), automobile and workers compensation, as well as employee benefits, including life, health, dental, disability and long-term care. To meet the needs of surveyors who own their own businesses, NSPS designed the insurance program to provide business owners the opportunity to purchase a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP), combining property and liability coverage in one policy with extra coverage at no additional premium.

“This is an all-encompassed insurance program,” Isom says. “All lines of coverage are included [in the program] that you can possibly think of.” Members can obtain discounted rates on a wide variety of insurance coverages and take advantage of competitive pricing for personal insurance needs. “This is the first time [an insurance program] has covered the business and personal side for land surveyors in one arena,” Isom says.

NSPS plans to enhance the insurance program further. According to Isom, NSPS is working to add additional lines of coverage without additional costs to the program. “We’re working to get other companies to commit to a pricing structure,” Isom says. “[And] only endorsed companies who are willing to commit will be added [to the program].” In addition to including professional liability coverage in the program, Isom is specifically working on enhancing health coverage for surveyors. Since health coverage is government regulated and varies across state boundaries, Isom is working to create one health insurance package equivalent for surveyors in all U.S. states.

In an effort to market the NSPS Insurance Program to members, it has assigned states to designated insurance agencies. To obtain quotes and learn more about the insurance program, contact the agency designated to serve your state at www.nspsmo.org/documents/NSPSinsurance.pdf.

Bruce Davis and Ed Grigsby from NASA, along with Tom Cecere from USGS, present the William T. Pecora Award to Dr. John Jensen of the University of South Carolina at the 2006 MAPPS and ASPRS Specialty Conference.

MAPPS and ASPRS Host Third Joint Conference

More than 600 attendees gathered in San Antonio, Texas from Nov. 6-10, 2006 to participate in the 2006 Specialty Conference hosted by the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). The theme of the conference, “Measuring the Earth (Part II): Latest Developments with Digital Surface Modeling and Automated Feature Extraction,” focused on presenting the latest technologies for acquisition and applications in remote sensing, mapping and GIS, and the latest developments and implementation of automated operations with minimal human intervention.

Throughout the course of the five-day conference, several announcements were made. ASPRS announced the January 2007 release of the 2nd edition of the Digital Elevation Model Technologies and Applications: The DEM Users Manual. The 2nd edition of the manual focuses on recent updates and upgrades in the technology of acquiring and processing elevation data. Additionally, NASA and the Department of the Interior presented the 2006 William T. Pecora Award to Dr. John Jensen of the University of South Carolina. The William T. Pecora Award is an annual award recognizing outstanding contributions by individuals or groups toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing.

The 2006 Specialty Conference was the third successful joint conference hosted by MAPPS and ASPRS. Following the 2001 conference, “Digital Elevation Technologies and Applications,” and the 2003 conference, “Terrain Data: Application and Visualization--Making the Connection,” the 2006 conference gave data users and providers the opportunity to share their experiences using new and advanced technologies to optimize projects, analyze and solve problems, and explore new applications. MAPPS and ASPRS offered a mix of general sessions with speakers covering a wide variety of topics, such as LiDAR and remote sensing, 24 technical breakout sessions, and an applications showcase on project acquisition and applications, automated feature extraction, visualization simulation, research and development and hazards. There are no future joint conferences scheduled at this time.

NCEES Increases Requirements for Engineering Licensure

From Sept. 13-16, 2006, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) held its annual business meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, and approved revisions to the Model Law and Model Rules to increase mandatory engineering education for licensure.

The new language specifically states that an engineering intern with a bachelor’s degree must have an additional 30 credits of acceptable upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level coursework from approved providers in order to be admitted to the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) examination. New language was also added to Model Law rules stating that “effective January 1, 2015, a graduate with a bachelor of science degree in engineering requiring more than 120 credits may request that credits earned in excess of 120 credits be applied to satisfy the requirement.”

NCEES committees have been studying the issue of raising educational requirements for more than five years and cited the decrease in the number of credits required to earn an undergraduate degree--from 150 a few decades ago to an average of 128 today--as one of the reasons for supporting this change to the Model Law.

Now that the council has approved incorporating the additional education requirements into the Model Law, NCEES will define what the additional education should consist of. Next year, an NCEES committee will consider issues related to implementation. To view a full copy of the new Model Law language, visit www.ncees.org.

GISCI Unveils Rules of Conduct for GIS Professionals

The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) of Park Ridge, Ill., released the Rules of Conduct, a supplement to the GISCI Code of Ethics. The Rules of Conduct consists of a “set of implementing laws of professional practice that seek to express the primary examples of ethical behavior consistent with the Code of Ethics.” The rules are arranged under the headings that deal with obligations to society, employees and funders, colleagues and the profession and individuals in society, and may be useful in resolving specific questions of ethical conduct.

GISCI holds its Certified Geographic Information Systems Professionals (GISPs) to higher ethical standards through the Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct. According to Geney Terry, GISP chair of the GISCI Ethics Committee, achieving the GISP certification is an initial milestone on the path to being recognized as a professional. “If a GISP violates the Code of Ethics and the Rules of Conduct, that person not only affects their own professional standing, but potentially affects the profession as a whole,” Terry says. Living the ethical life of a GIS professional is a daily test that will present numerous challenges for which the Code of Ethics and the Rules of Conduct offer a guide to decision making. Both documents govern ethical professional practice standards and specify that violations of each may be brought before the GISCI Ethics Committee for disciplinary action. The Rules of Conduct are available on the GISCI website at target="_blank">www.gisci.org/rules_of_conduct.htm.

Lockheed Martin Completes GPS III

The Lockheed Martin GPS III team announced the completion of a System Requirements Review (SRR) for GPS Block III, the U.S. Air Force’s next generation Global Positioning System Space Segment program. The purpose of the SRR is to review the system requirements, to ensure the documented requirements reflect the current knowledge of the customer and market requirements, to identify requirements that may not be consistent with product development constraints, and to put the requirements under version control to serve as a baseline for continued new product development. Lockheed Martin conducted the SRR under a $10 million contract awarded in August 2006.

“The successful review, which included our Air Force customer and other government representatives, validated the set of GPS III requirements and system specifications and puts us on a firm footing to proceed into the SDR [System Design Review] phase,” says Steve Tatum, spokesman for Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

GPS Block III will enhance space-based navigation and performance, and set a new world standard for positioning and timing services. The program addresses the challenging military transformational and civil needs across the globe, including advanced anti-jam capabilities and improved system security, accuracy and reliability. Lockheed Martin and its navigation provider, ITT, are building on their experience of the government’s Block IIR and IIR-M spacecraft series for GPS III. The third GPS Block IIR-M satellite launched on Nov. 17, 2006 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The Lockheed Martin GPS III team is working under a $49 million contract to execute a System Design Review in March 2007. “This effort will further help the government define its design approach to the space segment specification,” Tatum says. A multi-billion dollar development contract is scheduled to be awarded to a single team by the Global Positioning Systems Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. in mid-2007.

Associate Editor Regan Grant compiles “Newsline.” Contact her at grantr@bnpmedia.com or 248/786-1620.