EDITOR’S NOTE: Kosrae is an island in the Pacific Ocean and part of the Federated States of Micronesia. Located between Hawaii and Guam, Kosrae features lush vegetation, mountainous views and coral reefs. History also haunts the island and the city of Lelu, where ruins mark a 15th century ceremonial settlement, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

 Citing its unique history and culture, UNESCO has decided to consider Lelu as a World Heritage Site. To earn that status, Kosrae must meet UNESCO’s 10 cultural and natural criteria. Enter KnowledgeWell, a group of volunteers that share their business and professional expertise with emerging and under-resourced areas. The volunteers, together with citizens of Kosrae, have joined together to preserve the island’s history and unique culture, capturing 3D images of the islands environmental and historic assets. Below is the story of Wigner Joe, one of three state surveyors in Kosrae. 

KOSRAE, Federated States of Micronesia − Since 2005 I have been involved with KnowledgeWell projects and training in Guam, Kosrae, Pohnpei (“Clearing the Air,” POB, Nov. 2009), Palau and North Carolina. KnowledgeWell always has the best and most prepared professionals I have ever met.

The ceremonial city of Lelu on Kosrae − along with Nan Madol on the nearby island of Pohnpei − is under consideration by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. KnowledgeWell, led by board member Felicia Beardsley, Ph.D., is working with the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and UNESCO to make this happen.

Before beginning the Lelu project, the team field tested equipment by capturing 3D terrestrial and marine environmental and historic assets, thanks to volunteer Tim Cawood, PLS, the senior vice president of geomatics advanced technology at McKim & Creed. Cawood delivered the LiDAR scanner and RTK GPS, and he is credited with mobilizing R2 Sonic and Applanix for use of multibeam sonar equipment to capture historic and environmental assets. 

The Emperor's Line Project

The KnowledgeWell Kosrae Emperor’s Line Project is a fascinating part of Japanese and Micronesian history and critical to KnowledgeWell’s ongoing Strategic Sustainable Future Plan for the region. 

The “Emperor’s Line,” locally referred to as the “Japanese Line,” was an imaginary line which set aside the upper elevation of Kosrae island for the emperor following World War I.  The line was created by the Japanese emperor along with selected individuals from the municipalities of the State of Kosrae, Utwa, Malem, Tafunsak and Lelu to designate lands that were publicly owned and privately own, meaning land above the emperor line were designated as government and lands below the line are where the private-own designations began. Although those lower lands were designated private sector, portions were used by the Japanese in all their developments during their administration.

“The KnowledgeWell ‘Emperor’s Line’ Project is currently the most significant sustainable economic development activity in Kosrae,” said Lyndon H. Jackson, the governor of Kosrae. “Additionally, it is of great historic importance to both Kosraean and Japanese cultures. I thank and welcome KnowledgeWell volunteers to our island--the ‘Jewel of the Pacific.’”  

Who should volunteer? PLS, GIS, CAD, data management experts, all positions, field and office. Volunteer requirements include expertise and a willingness to share with and serve local professionals. For more information, email Kosrae2014@KnowledgeWell.org.

Cawood anticipated that obtaining accurate tidal data and survey control for the hydrographic survey could be a challenge on the island. Before arrival, Tim had searched the NGS survey control database, which indicated four existing monuments on Kosrae. Three of the monuments were located at the airport, and one was set in a concrete pier in the town of Lelu. After arrival, Tim and I rode to the airport, but without much hope. A major expansion project that lengthened the runway was under way, and, after reviewing the “go to” statements on the datasheets, our guess was that existing monuments were either destroyed or paved over, which was the case. We then navigated to the reported location of the monument in Lelu using an autonomous position. There we found a hole in the pier where the NGS monument had been chiseled out of the concrete.

In addition to Cawood’s NGS search, he checked online for tidal information in the FSM and found a report by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research of New Zealand. The report, prepared for Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority (KIRMA) in 2011-12, described the procedures and results of a project to monitor climate and sea level.

As part of this initiative, a real-time water level gauge was installed, and several high order bench marks were established using GPS observations for a period of two and a half days. As it turned out, the pier where the team was doing the multibeam installation onto the docked boat Sinlaku was the pier where the water level gauge was located. It included a brass disk known as Lelu BM 1. Team members nearly tripped over it each day.

Using a Trimble 5700 with a Zephyr Geodetic Antenna, Cawood and the team collected data at 1 second epochs during survey operations, and then they post-processed the raw SBET (smoothed best estimate of trajectory) data from the POS MV IMU for the final positioning of the sonar data.


The survey work with KnowledgeWell, along with its ongoing sustainability work and UNESCO World Heritage City Strategic Sustainable Tourism Plan, creates a sustainable future for the unique cultures in Kosrae and in Pohnpei.

For the Kosrae State Survey and Mapping Office, KnowledgeWell activities serve as training opportunities for the professionals on the island. The key stakeholder and beneficiary of the work was KIRMA and its Historic Preservation Office, led by director Robert Jackson and historic preservation officer Berlin Sigrah. Other on-island partners included Director Steven George, who approved the use of the fisheries boat for the hydrographic survey, Lelu Mayor Widmer Sigrah, and Governor Lyndon Jackson.

In addition to the learning and experience with new technologies, the most important value KnowledgeWell delivered was a new network of professionals that we call friends. Each volunteer and their families are now part of our family. I invite each of you to contact KnowledgeWell and join its next Kosrae project − The Emperor’s Line.

Volunteering on Kosrae

“I am the first NSPS Governor to volunteer with KnowledgeWell and serve on its board. My employer, KnowledgeWell corporate social responsibility partner Duenas Camacho & Associates on Guam, sponsored my volunteer activities on three KnowledgeWell projects in Kosrae between 2006-09.  I have visited most of the islands in the region. My volunteer work with KnowledgeWell was the most meaningful of my professional career. I highly recommend this experience and encourage employers to participate in Corporate Social Responsibility by sponsoring their employee’s participation as KnowledgeWell volunteers.”

– Tom Condon, PLS

Author’s Note. We thank KnowledgeWell for mobilizing experts to deliver tremendous value to the professionals of our island. Their work here over the past seven years has directly benefited the Survey and Mapping Office, Historic Preservation Office and many other professionals here in this remote area of the Pacific.

The KnowledgeWell field team consisted of Pete Kelsey; Colleen Rubart; Joe Travis, GISP; Chris Moreno, Ph.D.; Billy Kuartei; Charles W. Brennan; Jens and Anne-Margrethe Steenstrup; Tim Cawood, PLS; and Daniel Byers.

KnowledgeWell’s Corporate Social Responsibility Partners represented on the island were HDR Inc., Madedok, R2 Sonic, Applanix, Skyship Films and McKim & Creed. These partners donated employee participation and equipment. KnowledgeWell selected a team from the Poole College of Management at N.C. State University to author the plan with the cultural context authored by HDR’s Chris Moreno, Ph.D.

Applanix donated the use of its Exportable IMU to work with R2Sonics 2024 Broadband Multibeam Echosounder system. The one scheduled to be used possessed a technology that could not leave the USA.  Applanix shipped its high resolution POS MV 320 days before the team arrived in Kosrae.

USA multibeam SONAR manufacturer R2 Sonic owner Jens Steenstrup, Anne-Margrethe Steenstrup and Chief Hydrographic Engineer Charles W. Brennan accompanied the company’s equipment to our island.


Here's a link to a YouTube video about KnowledgeWell's work on Kosrae: http://youtu.be/qigvD0VO9gM