-NRC Report Provides Research Focus for The National Map
-National Geospatial Advisory Committee Established
-Topcon Acquires Sokkia

NRC Report Provides Research Focus for The National Map

In response to the USGS’ request to assess current and future needs for geographic information science capabilities related to The National Map, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies published its research recommendations this past December. The National Map is a collaborative effort to improve and deliver topographic information for the nation.

The NRC report, “A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey,” provides short- and long-term project recommendations intended to build The National Map into a knowledge-based system with intelligent data over an estimated 10-year period, according to E. Lynn Usery, acting director of the 2006 USGS-formed Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS), which contracted the NRC report.

“We seem to have a real strong commitment all the way from the director of the USGS on down to the research program now,” Usery said. “I credit the report for generating the knowledge in upper management that this is a need and something they should be willing to put resources into.”

CEGIS conducts research to investigate methods and procedures for accomplishing the goals of The National Map, which is then turned over to the National Geospatial Technology Operations Center for implementation, Usery said.

Based upon the prepublication version of the NRC report, CEGIS began two new research projects in October 2007: “User-Centered Design for Web Map Services” and “Design of an Electronic Topographic Map.” In addition, CEGIS has been working on three high-priority short-term projects previously recommended by the NRC to improve The National Map within two to four years: data integration, the ability to take data from different sources and fit it together within a USGS standard; data generalization, the ability to generalize data from one scale or resolution to smaller scales or resolutions; and the development of an ontology to detail different parts of a feature, how it relates to the overall feature and how one feature relates to another.

Long-term projects recommended in the report include developing a spatial-temporal data model enabling users to examine how a single feature changes over time; developing a feature-based quality-aware data model that enables users to examine a feature in multiple ways and obtain its accuracy information on a feature basis; and transaction processing, which allows the modification or deletion of a particular feature without affecting the rest of the database. Further research is ongoing.

The NRC report is available online at: http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12004.

National Geospatial Advisory Committee Established

In January, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced 28 appointees to the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC), a new advisory board for federal geospatial programs, which was formed in May 2007. “This committee will help provide advice and perspectives from a broad range of our partner organizations as we continue to develop new ways to utilize geospatial information for the benefit of the public,” Kempthorne said.

The NGAC will provide advice on federal geospatial policy and program management and provide a forum for dialogue within the geospatial community. “The federal government is still on the low side of the curve with regard to utilization of geospatial services and data and technology,” said John Palatiello, a committee member representing the private sector. “Hopefully, we can develop some recommendations to enhance the use of geospatial data to make government programs more efficient, save the taxpayers money and enhance the quality of life for all Americans.”

Additionally, the committee will advise on the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), which facilitates geospatial data sharing among the private, public and academic sectors and all levels of government.

“In my view, we have not, as a community, done a good job defining roles of responsibility of our government, of the private sector and of the academic community,” Palatiello said. “And I would hope that this committee could really take a leadership role in defining those roles of responsibility so that we’re more efficiently allocating resources.”

Members representing the private sector, nonprofits and academia include: Sean Ahearn, Hunter College, City University of New York; Allen Carroll, National Geographic Society; David Cowen, University of South Carolina; Jack Dangermond, ESRI; Kass Green, The Alta Vista Company; David Maune, Dewberry; Anne Hale Miglarese, Fugro EarthData Inc.; Charles Mondello, Pictometry International; Kim Nelson, Microsoft Corporation; Matthew O’Connell, GeoEye; John Palatiello, MAPPS; G. Michael Ritchie, Photo Science; David Schell, Open Geospatial Consortium; and Christopher Tucker, IONIC Enterprise.

Members representing governmental agencies include: Rizwan Ahmed, State of Louisiana; Timothy M. Bennett, NativeView; Michael Byrne, State of California; Donald Dittmar, Waukesha County, Wis.; Dennis Goreham, State of Utah; Randall L. Johnson, Metropolitan Council, St. Paul, Minn.; Randy Johnson, Hennepin County, Minn.; Jerry Johnston, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Barney Krucoff, District of Columbia; Timothy Loewenstein, Buffalo County, Neb.; Zsolt Nagy, State of North Carolina; Jay Parrish, State of Pennsylvania; Gene Schiller, Southwest Florida Water Management District; and Steven Wallach, U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Topcon Acquires Sokkia

After almost 11 months of negotiations, Topcon Corporation and Sokkia Co. Ltd. combined effective Feb. 5. Sokkia will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Topcon Corporation. The announcement follows a tender offer and agreement between the two companies to “conduct a business integration in the surveying instruments business … in order to increase customer satisfaction … and to ‘become a surveying and measurement instruments entity that is competitive globally.’” Business integration of the two companies is proposed by April 1, 2011.

Both companies plan to “standardize the platforms for total stations by the end of fiscal year 2010, and to mutually cooperate and strive for downsizing, weight-saving and differentiation of motor-driven total stations, and development of 3D measurement instruments (such as scanners) for the civil engineering market and measurement market,” according to statements.

Following the business integration, it is expected that Topcon will be responsible for: the development, manufacture and sales of GPS equipment and machine control systems; sales of total stations and other surveying instruments (excluding nonmotor-driven total stations in Japan); and the planning of the global business strategy. Sokkia will be responsible for the development and manufacture of total stations and other surveying instruments.
“Both Sokkia and Topcon have incredible dealer networks,” said Ray O’Connor, president and CEO of Topcon Positioning Systems. “This joining of our companies not only protects those networks but provides respective dealers with additional opportunities for growth.”
Ed Yamanaka, president of Sokkia Corporation, said, “It is rare that such an outstanding opportunity comes along to combine two global major market players that have similar corporate cultures while preserving their individual identities. This sends a clear message to the industry that this new, stronger company takes the responsibility of being the leading supplier of surveying instruments very seriously.”