BLM launches two web-based tools for accessing land use records; NSPS opens 2005 annual student competition; NOAA dedicates commemorative monuments to honor the Wright Brothers and the Bodie Island Base Line; and Topcon new headquarters to provide end user efficiency.

BLM Launches Two Web-Based Tools for Accessing Land Use Records

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) deployed two new web-based data tools within its GeoCommunicator website: "Land and Mineral Use Records" and "Federal Land Stewardship." GeoCommunicator ( is a website for the distribution of spatial data from the BLM's Land and Minerals Records System and the joint BLM-U.S. Forest Service U.S. National Integrated Land System (NILS).

The Land and Mineral Use Records tool allows users to search, locate, access and display records of the use authorizations that the BLM issues to the public for commodities and uses such as oil and gas, coal, sand, gravel, grazing, communication sites and rights of way. This is the first time the land and mineral use record and mining claim data has been available, spatially, from the BLM. Currently, the new application contains mining claims and oil and gas parcels only. More data will be made available each quarter.

The Federal Land Stewardship tool allows users to search, locate and display the federal land management boundaries for federal lands in the United States. The browser-based viewer can be used to graphically or textually locate the federal land of interest. Users can select by township and range, latitude and longitude, federal land name or by drawing a box on a map. The results of the search will display the selected area with symbolized boundaries that indicate the federal surface management agencies responsible for the federal lands. Users are able to view or "stream" live data directly to their desktops for use in GIS applications. The data represents the "best available" seamless source of the federal surface management agency boundaries. Much of the BLM data has been snapped to the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), making it more accurate than previous versions of the data layers.

The University of Akron team won the 2004 Student Surveying Competition. Pictured are: (back row) Ryan Snecek, Jared Akins, Heather Pierce, Daniel Engle and Adam Kehres, and (bottom row) Joel Metzger and Daniel Sublett.

NSPS Opens 2005 Annual Student Competition

The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) released the guidelines for its 2005 Student Competition. The competition is comprised of a problem decided by the NSPS Education Committee, which is now available on the NSPS website at nspsstudentcomp.html. Teams of students from surveying and geomatics degree-granting programs are invited to study the problem, conduct appropriate research and solve the problem while meeting all of the constraints given with the problem.

Next year's competition requires participants to submit a paper on the history and development of topographic mapping and conduct a field exercise that will complete a plane table survey with or without the use of non-electronic equipment and a plane table according to map requirements. As with every competition, there is an optional category in which students can participate: costume representation. Since plane table mapping was in heavy practice by Civil War military mappers, this is the period that costuming should represent.

Teams must register by Feb. 7, 2005 to participate in the contest. Students in either two- or four-year degree programs are eligible to participate; each team must have at least three and no more than six members. All teams' solutions will be demonstrated at the ACSM annual conference to be held March 18-23, 2005. Students will be responsible for providing their travel and lodging expenses at the Las Vegas conference and can seek support for travel and lodging from their college or university and from their state professional societies. This competition encourages surveying students to use innovation, to think critically and to think "outside the box" for solutions.

At the Wright Brothers Memorial National Park, Toni Dufficy, the chief of interpretation for NPS, accepts the Bodie Island plaque. To her left is Gary Thompson, PLS, the director of the North Carolina Geodetic Survey. Photo compliments of the North Carolina Society of Surveyors.

NOAA Dedicates Commemorative Monuments to Honor the Wright Brothers and the Bodie Island Base Line

On Sept. 17, 2004, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) honored the contributions of the Wright Brothers, and the recovery and restoration of the Bodie Island, N.C., Base Line distance measurement of 1848. At a special ceremony, NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS), working in partnership with the National Park Service, North Carolina Geodetic Survey, North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Society of Surveyors, dedicated commemorative monuments honoring both historic events.

"I think it is fitting that we honor both the Wright Brothers and the early surveyors who laid down the Bodie Island survey points with these ceremonies. Both played significant roles in the navigational history of the country," said Charlie Challstrom, NGS director.

The ceremony took place at the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, N.C. At the conclusion of the ceremony, volunteers from the North Carolina Society of Surveyors conducted tours of the Bodie Island Base Line from the newly created trailhead at the tourist center on Bodie Island.

The first monument, set at the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, commemorates the centennial of man-powered flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright on Dec. 17, 1903. This historic event gave birth to the airline industry.

The second monument, located approximately 10 miles south of the Wright Brothers monument at the north end of Bodie Island in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, commemorates the recovery and restoration of the Bodie Island Base Line. The United States Coast Survey, a predecessor to NGS, which was established by President Thomas Jefferson after the Lewis and Clark Expedition, originally surveyed this base line measurement in 1848. (For more information on the restoration of the base line, see "Redrawing the Line," POB, February 2003, and "A Monumental Call," POB, December 2003.)

The base line measurement, which extended 6.7367 miles north to south along Bodie Island, was an especially formidable challenge to measure in 1848 without the use of the electronic distance measuring devices available to modern-day surveyors. Still, surveyors managed to measure the base line with an accuracy of better than two inches. The survey formed the foundation for the development of coastal navigation charts that play a vital role in the safe navigation and the economic growth and development of the United States. The new marker joins a series of seven other markers on the Outer Banks, including two set by the United States Coast Survey in that 1848 survey that are among the oldest surviving geodetic survey monuments in the United States.

Topcon New Headquarters To Provide End User Efficiency

Almost three and a half years ago, Topcon Positioning Systems Inc. was formed by a corporate consolidation of its survey, GPS and construction positioning products divisions. This past fall the Japan-owned Topcon Corporation made another move in its commitment to innovation. The company unified all of its Bay-area operations into one facility, a new home in Livermore, Calif. On October 27, Topcon employees, distributors and users of its positioning control products were thanked for their involvement with Topcon through a dedication of its new headquarters in Livermore.

After residing in Pleasanton, Calif., for eight years, Topcon employees now carry out their tasks in a new 67,700 sq ft facility designed with a lean, efficient and effective style. The new building houses the company's corporate offices, manufacturing facility, warehouse and distribution center-and more than 200 employees. Product development, engineering, manufacturing and global distribution of Topcon's machine control and GPS products will now be centered at Livermore. It will also serve as the base of operations for survey and laser product sales distribution in the Americas.

Guiding a tour after the grand opening ceremony, Patrick Fay, a manufacturing engineer, explains how Topcon's new process has not only improved quality but also the flexibility to rapidly implement new product design.
"Our new facility will enable decisive control and management of all operations essential to the continued development and production of new positioning technologies for construction, land surveying and agriculture," said Topcon Senior Vice President for Operations Tom Norton. "This building demonstrates our commitment to our existing and future customers, and the superior innovation and product performance that Topcon's growth and reputation are built upon."

How will Topcon customers benefit from the new facility?

"The building was completely vacant inside so we had the opportunity to design the build-out to exactly suit our business model," said Ray O'Connor, president of Topcon Positioning Systems. "Our focus for the building was to create a work environment that will continually propel our product development, manufacturing, distribution and customer support toward one goal-serving the construction, surveying and agricultural markets with the most advanced, productivity-enhancing positioning products in the world."

This new work environment includes a fluid progression matching the company's new lean strategy. "Lean is a business strategy-not just to satisfy our customers but to delight our customers," said Scott Baker, production manager. According to Marketing Manager Mark Contino, this will occur by "reducing waste, improving efficiency, allowing us to respond better and faster to the needs of the market and the needs of our dealers." Elements contributing to this new approach include minimizing inventory aspects through the use of digital records, greater productivity by getting the right products on the shelf and to the customer as quickly as possible, and better product flow from production to quality control to the warehouse. A service carousel has been installed in the new facility, cutting down on product space by 300 sq ft and increasing response times for customer orders. The improved layout of the new facility will also enable easier communication among employees. What does this mean? As one employee puts it: "We're going to give better and better solutions for the distributors and our customers."

At the dedication ceremony, Koji Suzuki, president of Topcon Corporation, pointed out that the new Topcon Positioning Systems facility is an example of the company's newest slogan, TM-1. "It is not a new product, but a new objective," he said. "TM-1 means "˜Time to Market Number One' and enables Topcon to reduce operation processing through the use of leading edge processes and equipment so we can implement the many innovative technologies into our products quickly at a lower cost, thus benefiting our customers and industry." Suzuki cited Topcon's new Millimeter GPS technology as a recent example of a TM-1 success.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, jointly performed by Suzuki, O'Connor and George Yoshino, Topcon's director and senior managing executive officer, Topcon executives and dignitaries performed a traditional Kagami Wari ceremony. This breaking of a sake barrel lid with a wooden mallet signifies the start of a sacred ceremony, special occasion or a new beginning. The splashing forth of the sake reputedly brings good luck and blessings to all at the occasion. The sake and alternate beverage were served in a sake masu, a small wooden box cup, and everyone joined in a toast of "kampaii!" which is believed to bring blessings of health, happiness and prosperity to all who partake. "It is the hope of Topcon that the prosperity of this toast will flow to our distributors, our customers and our industry through the dedication of the people and investment in this new facility," O'Connor said.

Topcon is now located at:

7400 National Drive
Livermore, CA 94551