Different strokes

Jul 2009 | Comments Off on Different strokes

The article presents views and opinion about current issues and priorities surrounding Geomatics and GNSS by experts in their repective domain.

GNSS: The international cooperation is inevitable

Akio Yasuda

Professor Emeritus Tokyo University of Marine Science
and Technology,Tokyo, Japan
Basic Act on the Advancement of Utilizing Geospatial Information was approved by the cabinet in Japan last year. It states the promotion of the various kinds of the applications of geodetic information in both private and public areas to realize the convenient and safe society. The supplementary budget to save the economical crises this year in Japan prepares a lot of money to promote the utilization of geographic information. In order to realize such society in near future, the further preparation of the positioning infrastructure and improvement of the positioning technique much more than present state. The academic sector is preparing the application of the budget for the coming fi ve years. Built in type car navigation device are very popular in Japan. Recently, low cost PND (Portable Navigation Device) is being accepted for its low cost, convenience and acceptable accuracy on car. There are several problems, when used by pedestrian. If the sensitivity of the GPS receiver is not enough, he may lose his position. The multipath scatters his position sometimes hundred meters with high sensitivity GPS receivers. It also misleads his route. The energy consumption is also an issue. Improvement of performance in the urban area is essential for personal navigation. As for the personal navigation, the positioning in the building and underpass, there are some ideas are proposed such as IMES. They will offer seamless navigation continuously from outside SPECIAL FEATURE and help them for their activities in some extent with various regional information. However, they do not offer real time accurate positions. Thus they are not applicable to the machine control inside the building such as controlling nursing robot. The development of the indoor navigation system is important for the future aging society.

The globalization of the GNSS will proceed in the next decade. In addition to GPS and GLONSS, Galileo and COMPASS are on line. They were developed for the hegemony of the developing countries regardless whether it is conscious or not. QZSS is under developing by Japan to supplement and augment GPS performance for civil use.

Integrated use of these satellite navigation systems will promote signifi cantly the performance of satellite navigation. Then the unifi cation of the time scale and geographic coordinate are essential. The international cooperation is inevitable.

SDI: Human issues are most critical

Al Stevens

GSDI Secretariat
I think there are both technical issues and human issues to deal with, but the most critical are the human issues, eg we need fi nd ways of selling the need for SDI development at the ministry level. We need business case examples that are convincing to the Ministers of the many nations that are emerging SDI candidates and the ones that have not yet started anything. We need to identify the economic and policy examples that convince ministers and minister managers. We also need to develop assessment tools that help us to evaluate the credibility or existing SDI programs.

Navigation: Accuracy, availability, infrastructure and cost of deployment

Dr. Naser El-Sheimy

University of Calgary, Canada

Dr. Chris Goodall

Trusted Positioning Inc, Calgary, Canada
The bottlenecks faced by current navigation technologies relate to accuracy, availability, infrastructure and cost of deployment. There are many technologies that are very promising in terms of accuracy and availability, such as RFID and UWB, but cannot be deployed in mainstream due to infrastructure requirements and time spent customizing an environment. There are also technologies that are very accurate and self-contained, such as high grade INS, but these are extremely costly and are limited to military and high-end surveying applications. Even the most commonly used navigation methods such as GPS, AGPS and cell tower positioning are not always available or accurate due to signal availability and infrastructure restrictions.
Starting from the military navigation needs that gave birth to the ubiquitous, yet not-always-available Global Positioning System (GPS) for absolute outdoor navigation, to highly accurate, yet expensive, inertial navigation systems, there is not a single system that is always available for all environments, which is also low cost and infrastructure free. The lack of such a system for consumer applications is especially noticeable for applications such as E911, indoor emergency personnel localization, and even indoor mapping or simultaneous location and mapping. The concept of combining complimentary navigation systems has been gradually gaining acceptance for commercial applications. This has been the maxim in safety-related or mission critical applications, and as such, it is imprudent to depend on a single navigation technique. The requirements for cost and space constraints are currently driving providers of positioning technologies and applications to investigate and develop the next generation of low cost and small size navigation and guidance systems to meet the fast growing location services market demands. Interesting advances in Micro- Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology have shown unleashed potential towards the development of such systems. MEMS are integrated micro devices or systems combining electrical and mechanical components whose sizes range from micrometers to millimeters. MEMS is an enabling technology and the MEMS industry has a projected 10- 20% annual growth rate to reach 200 billion US$ market by the end of 2009. Advances in MEMS technology combined with the miniaturization of electronics, have made it possible to produce chipbased inertial sensors for use in measuring angular velocity and acceleration. These chips are small, lightweight, consume very little power, and are extremely reliable. They have found a wide spectrum of applications in the automotive, mobile phone and other industrial applications. However, while MEMS sensors are not very accurate for navigation and positioning, if harnessed, the resultant system design can be driven by a tradeoff between cost and performance. The push to integrate MEMS with existing wireless infrastructure will enhance system availability and accuracy without increasing cost or infrastructure. The MEMS sensors themselves are inherent to many existing electronic devices for other uses, and as such their deployment cost is negligible and there is no required infrastructure. Wireless signal infrastructure is always being improved, but not a single system can say it covers every environment; it is the fusion of lowcost inertial navigators with all available wireless signals that will form the solution.

MEMS technology can be used to develop positioning and navigation systems that are inexpensive, small, consume low power (microwatt), require no additional infrastructure, and provide a solution that is always available. All the necessary hardware components for this type of positioning system exist; it is the data fusion of the components that is the bottleneck of a successful solution.
Researchers and companies alike continue to work on a fusion solution. In Calgary, this has spawned the creation of a University of Calgary spin-off company called Trusted Positioning Inc. (TPI). TPI has over thirty (30) person years of research and development specializing in processing techniques required to make the signals of low-cost MEMS navigation systems usable for positioning purposes when combined with any number of wireless updates.

Remote Sensing: Contributing to Millennium Development Goals


President of ISPRS Istanbul Technical University,
Humanity stands on the threshold of a peaceful and prosperous future, with an unprecedented ability to extend life spans and increase the power of ordinary people – but is likely to blow it through inequality, violence and environmental degradation. And governments are not equipped to ensure that the opportunities are seized and disasters averted. Therefore the 3 important issues which “Remote Sensing”, needs attention is as below outlined; For a human living on this planet is to think about the future of his/her environment. This is currently the most important issue for scientists, whether or not he or she is working on an area close to the subjects such as
•Environmental Monitoring
•Climate Change or Global Warming,
•Powering a Sustainable Future: Policies
and measures to make it happen. We should investigate how we can
contribute to reach the “Millennium Development Goals”.
Nobody doubts that there are serious threats to the population of planet Earth, many from physical phenomena brought about by changes to the environment caused by human activities. A list of these would include threats from weather, natural disasters (although some of these, such as earthquakes, are not new threats, or brought about by human activity), disease and loss of adequate water of food supplies. These threats have not escaped the notice of governments, and although there is discussion over who is responsible and what should be (GEO) established by the fi rst Earth Observation Summit in July 2003 which declared the need for “timely, quality, long-term, global information as a basis for sound decision making”. The second Earth Observation Summit in April 2004 agreed to a Framework which established the basic principles for preparing an Implementation Plan for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
The plan also calls for support to countries, particularly developing countries, in their national efforts to collect data, use satellite and remote-sensing technologies for data collection and to access, explore and use geographic information.
As members of international and regional scientifi c societies we need to ask whether we are playing a role and whether we should be doing more. We also need to ask whether our members want us to devote resources to this type of activity and whether the right people are already involved. ISPRS is represented on COPUOS, CEOS and ICSU and makes a contribution through discussions at meetings and through the advice of experts nominated by ISPRS. This has been done in the area of education and data policy for example.
The article presents views and opinion about current issues and priorities surrounding Geomatics and GNSS by experts in their repective domain.

Surveying: Dwindling number of qualifi ed surveying professionals

Frank Derby

Ph.D., Associate Professor of Surveying and GIS
The Pennsylvania State University, USA
For me, the three most important issues confronting the surveying profession are recruiting of new professionals, education and research, and application of current technology. As an academician, one of the most urgent and pressing issues for me is the dwindling number of qualifi ed surveying professionals. Although the demand for qualifi ed surveyors is increasing, enrollment in surveying institutions is at an all-time low. In addition, the average age of the professional surveyor keeps increasing. This means that more of the practicing surveyors are either retiring or leaving the profession whiles very few are entering it. Very few high school students are choosing surveying as a career choice. This is a concern which can potentially lead to the demise of the profession. The situation is even worse when it comes to graduate education. Shortage of undergraduate surveying students means that even fewer students will enter graduate school. The launch of Gravity fi eld and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) and similar satellites are creating opportunities for advanced studies in surveying such as the gravity fi eld of the earth, an improved defi nition of the geoid, and to the determination of other physical characteristics of the earth. Together with current GPS technology, the potential exists for more accurate navigation and position determination. GPS technology has already improved surveying and mapping procedures and accuracies. However, there are areas for further improvement such as application of the technology in tunnels, in ocean fl oor mapping, and many more. Lack of graduate students implies reduced, and in some cases, lack of research in surveying institutions.

On the application of current technology, GIS and LIS technologies are maturing around the world. Benefi ts of these technologies include effective land administration, sustainable development, and resource management, to list a few. Very few local government administrators can boast of an effective land or geographic information system.

Many local government personnel who are responsible for developing such information system have little or no knowledge about maps accuracies, coordinate systems, map projections, data conversion, and other processes that are mainly the domain of the land surveyor.

Some are unaware of the surveyor’s role in its development. However, many surveyors are not profi cient enough in the technology to be of much help to the administrators. It is important for surveyors to educate themselves about the development of GIS/LIS, and be wiling to expand their expertise and services so as to be able to provide the necessary support and guidance to customers. Of all these, recruiting of new student is paramount and should be addressed immediately.

Knowing where you are is no longer a private matter

Professor George Cho

University of Canberra, Australia
A well-known adage among real estate agents is “location, location, location”. Likewise, in this short commentary there may be three priorities of concern when one links privacy to location. Much like the triple bottom line there are social impacts, economic imperatives and policy perspectives to the privacy question. But privacy may be dead and that we should either do one of three things or a combination of them, that is, get over it, get on with it or get out of it.

Social Impacts

At the start of the new millennium it was said that “you have no privacy, so get over it”. Such a sentiment has been attributed to Scott McNeely of Sun Microsystems. It seems that modern technology has liberated us from the shackles of the past in that it is now much easier to do things, it is much easier when we do things and it is much easier to do most things. We can send and receive messages instantly online on a 24 by 7 basis – a phrase brought into vogue where the modern world never sleeps. However, the price we have paid for these gains is at the expense of privacy. The phone carrier whether fixed line or mobile knows where one is and where the phone is located at any time. The bank knows what and when you buy and from whom the minute one uses the credit card. Employers have the right to look at the emails that you send from the offi ce or workplace. The government knows more about you that you might realise. Google can tell what you have been searching for, what you have been reading online and through You Tube what you have been watching virtually. Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Yammer all have some part of your personal information and at times these are on-sold to others for marketing purposes.

The challenge therefore is that to consider privacy as no longer a right but a privilege which we much studiously protect. One is able to do so because one has the means in an affl uent society and one can enforce this either through custom or through the courts. But think of those that are not so well disposed especially when the very same are struggling to earn a living and are especially vulnerable in that they are willing to sacrifi ce their privacy for ‘a piece of the action’. Even the privileged are happy to trade a bit of their privacy for convenience in return for discounts, ease of future access and the prospect of winning something. This seems like social engineering par excellence – not to mention the phishing, vishing and other scams that gambol about in cyberspace. Therefore it looks like technological advances, the demand of modernday business models and practices and public sector requirements have made some of our ideas of privacy oldfashioned, out-of-date, unsustainable and incompatible with our existence.

Economic Imperatives

In the electronic age there can be no privacy with any location because that is the very element that makes the economy go round. Analytics of various forms can mean that whilst the digital explosion has blown things apart, in a perverse way it may also have blown things together. Today, there are data aggregation companies that build warehouses of data and information or mine into such repositories in order to gather information and form intelligence. Such software are able to join the dots and assemble parts of the puzzle to form a clear picture of the terrain. Indeed, GIS technologies have been doing this all along for the past thirty or more years but mainly in relation to layer information to assemble maps and data views. The natural extension to this activity are those who use geodemographics techniques to market to target groups in specifi c localities. One can only wonder by asking “how did they know that?” Courts in the US and Canada have ruled that there can be compensation for serious invasions of privacy. Whether this will be the trend further in the 21st C is something to watch. The famous case of Barbara Streisand who objected to the aerial photography project of the California Coast program comes to mind. However, this litigation failed for other reasons other than privacy grounds.

Policy Perspectives

Various countries around the globe are toying with ideas of legislation protecting privacy. Courts in the UK and EU for example are more willing to treat private activities carried out in the public gaze as part of one’s right. The famous ‘celeb’ cases bring to mind Naomi Campbell who sued successfully after pictures of her were published by a newspaper. Princes Caroline of Monaco was successful as was JK Rowling who sued on behalf of her infant son. It is may not be the picture that is offensive but the context of where the picture was taken that has won the day in each of the cited cases. Similarly, the Formulae One boss Max Mosely was successful in defending his rights to privacy even though the pictures published by the newspaper were those of a sadomasochist sex party. Some claim that in certain jurisdictions, legislative devices already available are suffi cient to protect one’s privacy including defamation laws, trespass laws, racial vilifi cation laws and that newer forms of legislation such as the proposed American and Australian ‘tort of privacy intrusion’ may not be necessary. Really it may decant to the fact that there may be some things that are “self-evidently private” and that one can harbour a reasonable expectation of privacy. Hence, one man’s home can be his castle. But that seems so archaic in the electronic age. One can’t hide from the gaze of electronic cameras of the CCTV kind or the electronic eye in the sky.

Get over it, get on with it or get out of it!

The society of the 21st C will learn how to get over the loss of privacy and get on with it as a fact of life. The key is to try to get on with it as best as one can and hold on to what might be left. It also seems that it is not possible to get out of it, try as one might, because our location and the things we bring with us give us away to the world at large. It appears that privacy is dead and buried and that electronics and cameras are everywhere to trace our movements every day. Can you think of an instance where you can do something invisibly in your daily life? The odds are that you either can’t or can but with great diffi culty. Think about it.


Privacy it seems is not an absolute right. It has important limits and one’s privacy should be protected against unwanted invasion and intrusion while at the same time tempered by legal guarantees so that public interest is afforded some ‘air’ time. But it remains a ‘no, no’ to interfere with an individual or the family. It is a ‘no, no’ for someone to be subject to unauthorised surveillance. It is a ‘no, no’ also to either gather or release sensitive facts relating to an individual’s private life. But location is no longer a private matter these days.

Surveyors are caught in the crossfire

Brent A. Jones

PE, PLS Industry Manager, ESRI
Economy – These are challenging economic times for surveyors. Many surveyors depend on land development and other economic activity for their businesses. With planned commercial construction at record lows,

surveyors are caught in the crossfi re.

Aging workforce – The average age of surveyors continues to rise. We are creating fewer surveyors than are retiring. This combined with the increased skills needed for the new technology savvy surveyor will create challenges with other professions beginning to perform functions

that may logically be the surveyor domain.

Technology – Technology is moving very quickly and surveyors are working hard to keep up, some successfully, some not so successfully. The slow economy gives the practicing surveyor a little more time on their hands as compared to a boom time. This is a unique opportunity to retool, retrain, and engage in new technologies. GIS presents one of those new technologies that gives surveyors new markets and new revenue opportunities as well as new technology to help them better manage their work.

Geomatics education: from specialist to generalist

Prof Dr-Ing Dietrich Schröder

University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart, Germany
Geomatic education – as education in any other domain – should prepare the students for the job market. With their acquired competences they should be well prepared not only for recent requirements but also for those in the near future. At least the education should give a good basement, on which the graduates can build their career by training on the job and life-long learning concepts. So what are the recent or emerging requirements of our profession? Looking at my own background as geodetic engineer let me fi rst focus on technology. For data capturing, sensor integration is getting more and more important. This holds not only for airborne methods with combined digital camera and Laser scanning supported by GNSS and INS, but also for terrestrial data capturing with the new type of integrated total stations with the possibility of standard coordinate data capturing but also 3D point clouds and even images. What is the implication of these developments for education? Good background on the all the different methods is needed and how they can be combined in an effi cient way to produce high quality data. Not just pushing the button of a black box – but a good background for the interpretation of the results is needed.
Besides capturing coordinates the generation and the dissemination of
high quality products are important as well. With systems like Google Earth or Virtual Earth more and more people are getting used to spatial data. But still most of economic decisions are not based on this type of data. Spatial data infrastructures are needed for the dissemination and easy access of actual and reliable geo data, for supporting economic and political decisions. The implication for education is, that our students should have a good background main IT concepts, distributed systems, Web 2.0, etc. and how these concepts can be used to the advantage of Geomatics.
But just to focus on our classical field of geo data capturing and geo data dissemination will be not enough in the future. Our graduates should be prepared for consulting in many different fields, where the spatial data can be used effectively, as they will be the experts for geo data. This ranges from land management to urban and rural planning, forestry, environmental sciences, just to mention a few. Here an interdisciplinary approach in education is needed to make our graduates fit to communicate with people from many different fi elds. Thus social skills to deal with other people and their way of thinking will be another important issue. To summarize my point of view, what in Geomatic education is needed is an interdisciplinary approach with well
trained generalists and less specialists.
The article presents views and opinion about current issues and priorities surrounding Geomatics and GNSS by experts in their repective domain.

Prof P Misra

Consultant in Land
Information Technologies
Geographical Information System (GIS) has taught us that all surveying and mapping projects in the future have to be dependent on multi-disciplinary surveys with accurate ground control points provided by the national surveying organisations. This leads us to think that an appropriate structure/interconnection of the various organisations presently entrusted with the surveys should be brought together. Example, topographical surveys, geological surveys, forest surveys, soil and land use surveys etc. The present attempt is to propose a concept of structure which will provide the necessary linkages along with some future objectives.

National Spatial Data Infrastructure

The Ministry looking after the NSDI should be the overall in-charge of
ALL surveys, as mentioned above. The chief coordinator will, in real sense, be the Surveyor General of India. The present Surveyor General of India, the Head of Survey of India should have a new designation.
The revamped NSDI will lay the performance objectives of the constituent organisations under it.

NSDI: Additional Duties/Charter

• Applications of Satellite Imagery and Remote Sensing technology to be made more intensive and should form the basic inputs on laid out production norms of surveying and mapping. Department of Space should enhance its program on applications as compared to the Technology.

• Cadastral Surveys: There is a wide gap in technological practices in cadastral/revenue departments of the various states. NSDI should have a special Division exclusively for assistance to the states for upgradation of their standards. It should also run and recognize Training, R&D, Publications and Fellowships for the benefi t of the state personnel. Formulation of Policies regarding Geomatics NSDI should be the nodal organisation to advise other Ministries – e.g. Defense on the impact of the policies like restriction etc.

Education and Training

Survey Training Institute, Hyderabad and Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun are two premier education and training organisations. These should be merged and redesigned towards becoming a Surveying University. This university should also be engaged in R&D, and Publications. NSDI should provide the necessary ‘extension’ services to this University.

Chairs in Geomatics

Professorial ‘Chairs’ should be established at IIT (Roorkee), Anna University, Chennai, IIRS Dehradun and Survey Training establishment at Hyderabad under the budget of the Central Government.

Balance between Government and Private Sector in Geomatics

NSDI should oversee that the private sector is well represented in Geomatics Sector in India. In Summary, stress in the future should be on the applications of technology, effi cient Geomatics products and services with international outlook and marketing practices. My earlier paper should be seen for further ideas on this subject.

My coordinates
Mark your calendar

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