Point of Beginning

Newsline: February 2009

January 26, 2009
Virginia Begins Licensure Requirements for Surveyor Photogrammetrists; NOAA Appoints Blackwell as NGS Director; COGO Asks Congress to Designate Geospatial Subcommittees and more.

Virginia Begins Licensure Requirements for Surveyor Photogrammetrists

Virginia law now requires land surveyors who use photogrammetry or other remote-sensing technology to hold a surveyor photogrammetrist license. The new law provides for a 12-month waiver period in which existing photogrammetrists can apply to be “grandfathered” into the licensure program. Applicants under the grandfather provision will qualify for licensure based on documented education and experience in the field; the exam requirement will be waived. Once granted, the grandfather license is renewable every two years. After the grandfathering period ends Nov. 30, 2009, new applicants for the surveyor photogrammetrist license must qualify for and pass examinations in order to obtain a license.

More information and applications for the surveyor photogrammetrist license are available online at www.dpor.virginia.gov/dporweb/ape_main.cfm.

NOAA Appoints Blackwell as NGS Director

Juliana P. Blackwell moved into the role of director of NOAA’s Office of National Geodetic Survey (NGS) in January. As director, Blackwell oversees NOAA’s responsibilities for the nation’s spatial reference system. “I want to implement the efforts that have been collaboratively agreed to and drive those into the future,” she said. “My goal is for NGS to be even better in five years than we are today in being able to understand what our customers’ needs are and being able to meet those needs.”

Blackwell brings more than 18 years of experience to this leadership position. Originally joining the NOAA Commissioned Officers Corps in 1990, she served as a junior officer onboard the NOAA Ship Ferrel and as fourth officer on the NOAA Ship Whiting where she managed hydrographic survey operations. She joined the NGS full time in 1996. From December 2002 through February 2006, Blackwell managed the Height Modernization Program to improve the efficiency and accuracy of height information used in surveying, mapping and modeling nationwide. From February 2006 to August 2008, she was chief of the Observation and Analysis Division where she supervised 60 employees and was responsible for maintaining the nation’s spatial reference positioning system. At the end of August 2008, Blackwell took over as deputy director of NGS, and in January 2009, she moved into the role of director.

Blackwell is the first woman to head the NGS, which was established in 1807. Blackwell succeeds Dave Zilkoski, who retired after a 34-year federal career with NOAA and the NGS. For more information about Blackwell’s vision for NGS, see our Web Exclusive article, “Behind the Scenes with Juliana Blackwell,” at www.pobonline.com.

COGO Asks Congress to Designate Geospatial Subcommittees

The Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) formally requested Congress to establish House and Senate subcommittees with jurisdiction over federal geospatial activities. “Geospatial activities in the federal government have grown, and the congressional committee structure has not kept up,” said John Palatiello, executive director of MAPPS, which is a COGO member organization. “Currently, the responsibility for oversight and authorization of federal geospatial activities is spread among more than 30 House and Senate committees and subcommittees. The COGO proposal seeks efficiency in congressional oversight of geospatial, which we hope will result in greater coordination and strategic action by the agencies.”

In a letter to congressional leaders, COGO Chairman Cy Smith suggested that oversight of geospatial technology be included in the mission of existing committees and recommended four committees, which COGO considers appropriate homes for geospatial matters. The House committees on Natural Resources or Oversight and Government Reform were suggested. Recommended Senate committees were Energy & Natural Resources or Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. The resolution to endorse congressional geospatial subcommittees was adopted at COGO’s October meeting. The COGO letter is available at www.urisa.org/cogo.

URISA Opens Nominations for GIS Hall of Fame

URISA--the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association--is accepting nominations for its GIS Hall of Fame. Nominations are open to individuals or organizations from any profession and are not restricted to those having a past or current relationship with the association.

To be considered for the GIS Hall of Fame, an individual’s or an organization’s record of contribution to the advancement of the industry must serve as a role model and demonstrate creative thinking and actions, vision and innovation, leadership, perseverance and community mindedness. The deadline for nomination is May 1. For more information, go to www.urisa.org/hall_of_fame.

Russia to Set Record for Space Launches in 2009

Russian Space Agency (RSA) officials announced in December plans to increase space launches in 2009 despite the worldwide financial crisis, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “We have scheduled a record number of launches for next year,” said RSA Chief Anatoly Perminov. Russia conducted 27 space launches in 2008 and 26 launches in 2007. “We are planning to carry out 39 launches, half of them commercial and civilian satellites.”

Perminov also reported that the Glonass satellite program is unchanged. “We will conduct two launches with three satellites each to increase the Glonass orbital grouping by six satellites,” he said. In 2008, six Glonass satellites were added to the network, the latest of which occurred Dec. 25, 2008, when a Proton-M rocket carrying three Glonass-M satellites was successfully launched from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft were placed into orbital plane 1 on the Glonass constellation and will occupy slots 2, 3 and 8, according to the Roscosmos Information-Analytical Center.

Approximately $360 million (9.9 billion rubles) was budgeted in 2007 for Glonass, which is more than double the 2006 allocation. In September 2008, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed a directive allocating an additional $2.6 billion to develop the Glonass system and announced that the network will be increased to 30 satellites by 2011.

Development of 3G GeoEye Satellite Begins

GeoEye, a producer of satellite and aerial imagery and geospatial information, contracted with ITT Corp. in January to begin work on the camera for GeoEye’s next satellite, GeoEye 2. This is the first step in a phased development process for an advanced third-generation satellite capable of discerning objects on the Earth's surface as small as 0.25-meter, or 9.75-inch. GeoEye 2 is expected to be launched approximately three years after work begins.

New B2B Web Site Connects Surveyors to Equipment for Sale

The Surveyor Exchange, a classified-ad style Web site dedicated to surveying equipment, officially launched November 2008. The site enables sellers and buyers to communicate directly, discuss all aspects of the product for sale and negotiate a sales agreement. “The Surveyor Exchange concept gives our members control of their account, ad listings, edits and sales negotiations without any middleman input, sales commissions or ‘final value fees’ after a sale,” said Rob Peterson, co-owner of the UTS Online Web site. Registration is free, and a variety of ad-placement options are available. For more information, go to www.thesurveyorexchange.com.

GITA Announces White Paper Series on CIP-ER

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) released the first installment of its new “Geospatial Dimensions of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Response (CIP-ER)” white paper series. The series focuses on the interdependencies of the vertical markets where geospatial technology is used, including utilities, public agencies, telecommunications companies, transportation agencies and pipeline companies. At least seven white papers are to be published between fall 2008 and spring 2009. The first paper, “Infrastructure Interdependencies,” is available online, along with an introductory article by Samborski. More information on the GITA white paper series is available at www.gita.org/ciper.