News on Kentucky's adoption of a single zone system, the Intergeo Conference and Leica's expanded product line.

Kentucky Adopts Single Zone State Plane Coordinate System

Two heads may be better than one, but two zones aren’t necessarily better than one for surveyors in Kentucky.

The commonwealth of Kentucky officially adopted the Kentucky Single Zone Coordinate System through administrative regulation and the Kentucky Geographic Information Advisory Council (GIAC) on August 15. The new state plane coordinate system was developed to cover the entire state in a balanced fashion that attempts to minimize ground to grid distortions. It is now officially recommended by the commonwealth that surveyors use this method of representing geospatial information for statewide datasets covering Kentucky over the original system that divided the state into North and South Zones. Subsequent adoption of the system by the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) and the United States Geological Survey is pending.

The Kentucky North and South Zone system was developed by the NGS in the 1930s as part of the national state plane coordinate system. It divided most states into two or more zones. With the surveying tools available at the time of its inception, the system was designed to achieve ellipsoid to grid distortion ratios no greater than one part in ten thousand. This was established so that ignoring mapping scale factors would not degrade positional accuracies for common field surveys of the day.

“This system worked fine until recently because most projects were isolated and GIS had yet to come of age until the last decade or so,” said Bryan Bunch, PLS, chair of the Kentucky GIAC Single Zone Subcommittee.

With the revolution of GIS however, capabilities have emerged that make a single zone more convenient for some states. Montana, Nebraska and South Carolina have all switched to single zones according to Bunch.

The Kentucky Single Zone Coordinate System has been in development for a year. The State GIAC established the Kentucky Single Zone Subcommittee to investigate the plan for a single system.

The Single Zone Coordinate System will be used in addition to the existing North and South Zones in order to provide a transition period.

“Our long term goal is to drop the North and South Zones and work in one zone for the entire state in the future,” Bunch said.

Under the two zone system, the South Zone of Kentucky centers on the southern half and covers it in balance by design. It can’t be extended to cover the northern half of Kentucky without introducing additional mapping distortions. The same is true for the North Zone which is centered on the northern half of Kentucky. Additional mapping distortions would be introduced if it were extended to southern Kentucky.

“With the advent of GIS, we now have the capability to view the state all-inclusively, but we didn’t have a mapping projection that was designed to cover the entire state. We had two zones, neither of which covered all the state in a balanced manner. We needed something that was designed and centered on the entire state rather than just part of it. This is why we developed a single zone projection,” Bunch said.

The single zone coordinate will not impact past files, as the North and South Zones are still options according to Bunch.

“Surveyors now have an additional choice that covers the entire state in one projection,” Bunch said. “One ramification is that when a surveyor has a project in a particular county, that surveyor doesn’t have to be concerned about which zone to implement.”

Having a single zone will also improve GIS procedures by eliminating the complications that having two coordinate projections caused when dealing with raster data.

“Under the two zone system, we had to split raster data into two projection zones,” Bunch said. “This made it impossible for us to view the entire state in one raster set unless we used North or South exclusively.”

Attendees at the Intergeo conference examine an exhibit.

Cologne Made Intergeo Conference Sweet

Cologne smelled pretty sweet to organizers of the 2001 Intergeo conference, which boasted 16,000 visitors, up from last year’s 14,500.

Cologne, Western Germany was the site of the 2001 Intergeo conference from September 19-21. The international conference, which consisted of the presentation of technical papers and manufacturers exhibits is the 85th meeting sponsored by the DVW, an organization that translates in English to the German Society of Geodesy, Geo-information and Land Management.

This year’s conference grew in size as well as attendance. More than 400 papers were presented this year, up from 350 presented last year. The number of sessions also increased, but the presentation portion of the conference was not as well attended as the exhibition portion. Of interest to U.S. geomatics professionals is the growing number of sessions and papers being presented in English. This year represented the third year of having part of the proceedings conducted in English.

The exhibition floor of Intergeo featured 416 exhibitors from 18 nations. The exhibition itself showed healthy increases, not just in attendance, but number of exhibitors (+8 percent), gross area (+35 percent), and international exhibitors (64 this year over last year’s 51). By far, the software sector, especially in mapping, GIS and CAD dominated the companies represented at the exhibition.

A special call will be going out to companies in the United States to represent their products and services at the conference next year. Intergeo 2002 is scheduled for October 16-18 in Frankfurt, but organizers are hoping for an even sweeter turnout despite the switch from Cologne. The conference is a significant one, dedicated to being an important resource for the world’s surveyors, mappers and GIS professionals. For more information, visit and

Leica Geosystems Expands Product Line

Laser Alignment, now known as Laser Alignment by Leica Geosystems is now offering a single source for a broad scope of construction products such as lasers, 2D and 3D machine control systems using TPS and GPS, auto levels, total stations, accessories and software.

Swiss-based Leica Geosystems acquired Laser Alignment in January 2001.

“We are creating synergies between the two companies,” said Tim Steele, a public relations representative for Laser Alignment by Leica Geosystems. “We are doing this by upgrading the construction products we make and combining with some of the Leica products that work well in the construction industry.”

RUGBY 100, the first in a new line of RUGBY lasers to be introduced over the next several years, is the first Laser Alignment product created using the Leica innovation process and quality assurance. The RUGBY 100 is an automatic self-leveling laser for general construction.

The acquirement of Laser Alignment was a major step for Leica towards meeting strategic objectives, according to Leica Geosystems’ CEO Hans Hess.

Laser Alignment by Leica Geosystems will continue to be promoted and managed in Grand Rapids, Mich., and the phone number for technical support will remain: 1-800-4-LASERS.

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