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Open Source Software Enters

UMN MapServer and gvSIG Most Potential Ones
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are getting more and more important in the business world. Besides the proprietary products, now also several Open Source projects are getting a competitive alternative for the versatile use of GIS. gvSIG is an excellent example of a future GIS alternative and will include precise CAD tools. The Java based software is subject to the most important international standards (OGC) and the new paradigms of the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI).

By Alvaro Anguix Alfaro and Andreas Wehrle

GIS users has been bound to use certain software. So, the selection of a GIS normally was neither a well-considered decision nor the result of an analysis of the existing possibilities. This unsatisfactory situation is now changing because of the rising of several very promising Open Source projects, such as MapServer or gvSIG.

Actual Situation
Until now, the market of software that is dedicated to modify and treat spatial information and cartography has been monopolized by a few proprietary products. This phenomenon was noticeable in different forms, in desktop GIS as well as in web clients or also map servers. As a reason of the missing competition, several competitive alternatives have come into being all over the world in the last few years. Some of these alternatives are now developing into serious projects, supported by universities, public administrations and private enterprises. The best examples are the project MapServer of the University of Minnesota and gvSIG, a Desktop GIS, developed by the Valencian Government and the private company IVER. As aforementioned, the situation in many GIS evaluation processes is that not the most suitable product is selected but the most habitual one. The product is chosen without evaluating the alternatives. Normally, the software user isnt aware of his requirements and functions he needs. Although users often only need certain basic functions, they are constrained to buy expensive software with many complex, but unnecessary tools. The logical decision shouldnt be buying the most common software, but buying the software that fulfils the users requirements best.

Map of Europe, created with gvSIG.

Today, GIS software can be used for various tasks of spatial data and is essential in many branches. The scope of this software has changed from cartography to many other areas: not only administration and engineer offices but also wholesalers or hospitals can benefit from the combination of analysing tools and geographic information. About 90% of the available geographic data are estimated to be georeferenceable. This means that every selectable point on a map is provided with coordinates. To control this bulk of raw data, potent tools are necessary. These tools have to make data, that are usually stored in spatial databases, available. Depending on the needs of the user, currently

two kinds of GIS software fulfil the main requirements: the light web client or the heavy client, also called Desktop GIS. While the first one only offers basic tools, the heavy client offers many other possibilities and can also be adapted to the various user profiles like urbanism, environmental science, and marketing. In the last years, Open Source Software has been getting very popular. Numerous software areas already offer an equivalent option to proprietary products. But until now, the market segment of GIS and CAD software didnt provide serious alternatives to the expensive and sometimes oversized market-leading software packages. Due to this lack of selection, the main part of the fast growing community of

June 2006


s GIS Market
One can think of language, comfort, price, comprehensibility, and compatibility, to mention a few.

Open Source GIS Projects

Before, Open Source software often was disliked. The preconceived opinion was that a product free of charge cant be worth as much as one with charge. In certain cases, this opinion was correct, since many Open Source projects werent developed well enough. But with the success of several Open Source projects, public interest is awakened. The benefits from Open Source software are: Independence and control over the final product; Investment in variety: all investment can be spent in development instead of royalties; Maximizing the clients rights. In the area of GIS, various projects are worth paying attention to because of their maturity and several fulfilled conditions. The following tools are able to substitute the well-known proprietary software. The conditions are: Potency and functionality the software offers; Projects with a constant development and support by an administration or company that is able to guarantee the future of the project; Multiple platform tools that work under Windows as well as under Linux; Tools that incorporate the latest trends in relation to geographic information, Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) or INfrastructure for SPatial InfoRmation in Europe (INSPIRE); Software that observes standards, like the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). Desktop GIS: gvSIG Desktop GIS are the most potent tools for the treatment of geographic information. They include numerous functions that allow analysing spatial data, cartographic edition and map design. Actually, there are several products (GRASS, JUMP, QGIS, SAGA GIS) on the market that are to be

taken seriously, of which gvSIG is the most progressive one. gvSIG counts on the participation of the Valencian Government, the company IVER and the university Jaume I of Castelln. It is a Java development and operates under the GPL licence. Thanks to its Java-platform characteristics, it doesnt depend on the operating system. It works under Windows as well as Linux, the last one spreading rapidly. The multi-language gvSIG is conceived as a heavy GIS client that permits the analysis and consultation of spatial information, cartographic edition and generating maps. The frequent spatial data standard formats that are used on other GIS systems are supported by gvSIG. Example of formats are shapefile, DXF, DGN, ecw, and MrSID. gvSIG follows the standards of the Open Geospatial Consortium. This means it is able to read local data as well as remote data (as WMS, WFS and WCS). At the moment, a catalogue is being developed that permits the search and discovery of spatial data, as well as an automatic metadata generator. Metadata is information about data; in the case of cartography, it could be the scale, the year of publication or the source of the map. gvSIG is quite a young project, at the moment of this publication, it is in the version 0.5. It isnt just an alternative to the actual solution, it is also an innovative product that fixes new limits as it is the first desktop GIS that implements the possibility to utilise WMS, WFS and WCS. Parallel to the GIS development, gvSIG is entering into a second area: the implementation of advanced CAD tools. In this case, CAD tools are needed for the cartographic edition of a map. The use of precise CAD tools is inevitable for the cartographic edition, but their precision must be higher than the one of the habitual integrated tools we know from other GIS software. With the foreseen developments of gvSIG, the use of additional CAD software wont be necessary any longer. Another advantage of the Open Source characteristic of gvSIG is the huge community in the world of Internet. Thanks to their activity, it is possible to get support and additional features, in English as well as in other languages.

Important Abbreviations
GPL: GNU General Public License. This license grants the recipients several rights for Open Source software, such as the free use, improvement or redistribution of the program. BSD: Berkeley Software Distribution. It is a similar license like GPL. RDBMS: Relational Database Management System. Particular kind to store the data, strongly related with SQL. SQL: Structured Query Language. Computer language that is used to get data from a data base and to modify the data in the data base. OGC: Open Geospatial Consortium. International Organisation in which participate private companies as well as public organisations, with the aim to create standards in the world of geospatial content. WMS: Web Map Service. Is able to visualise maps dynamically from geographic data. WFS: Web Feature Service. Interface that enables the request and online modification of geospatial vector data. WCS: Web Coverage Service. Interface that enables the request and online modification of geospatial raster data. Map Server: UMN MapServer The map server software is the base tool that permits the distribution and diffusion of geographic information via the Internet. At the moment, the leader in the Open Source segment is UMN MapServer. Other leading products that are quite interesting are GeoServer or Degree. UMN MapServer is commonly accepted by the market. Originally, it was created by the University of Minnesota in cooperation with NASA and the universitys department of Natural Resources. The aim was to make maps available on the Internet. It is created with several Open Source and Freeware libraries, such as Shapelib, FreeType, Proj.4, libTIFF, and Perl, and may be installed like a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) or a module on a web server (in the case of Apache). For the control of map services several visual tools exist, from which MapLab is the most distinguished one. It is also available as Open Source and functions with PHP. It is integrated into the following products:

Logo gvSIG.

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June 2006



The world of geographic information has changed quickly, partly because of the introduction of certain concepts and methodologies about Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs). This movement is gaining more and more influence and is adopted by various public administrations. An SDI is a mechanism that unites and standardises spatial information in and between organisations. It is like a distributed GIS which shares information within a working group. The history of the Map server of the tourist agency of the Valencian Community, developed with UMN Spatial Data MapServer. Infrastructure started in the year 1994, when MapEdit: permits the creation and edition the then North American president, William J. of map services, defining layers, symbo Clinton, published a presidential order to logy, and so on; develop the National Infrastructure of Spatial MapBrowser: helps to select several GIS Data for the U.S.A (NSDI). The main idea data sources from various locations; behind this: sharing knowledge is a source of GMFactory: this tool helps to create clients economical growing. to access map services. It allows selecting In the year 2004, the European Commission the type of client (Java, HTML), available also decided to create a Spatial Data functions and design aspects. Infrastructure inside the European Community, called INSPIRE. The European SDI was comSpatial Database: PostGIS posed like a puzzle, created by several parts PostgreSQL is a free database, created under of national and local SDIs. For already two the licence BSD. In the area of database sysyears now, the influence of INSPIRE and the tems, there are many other successful Open necessity to fulfil the Commissions decision Source projects, like MySQL, Firebird, and have brought to light several SDIs at various MaxDB. PostGIS is an extension to the object-oriented database system PostgreSQL and works under the licence GPL. It allows the use of GIS objects and other objects that appear in the OGC specifications. One can think of things like points, lines, polygons, multilines, multipoints and geometric collections. It works with Geometry Engine Open Source (GEOS) as drive for the topologic control. PostGIS, and generally any spatial extension to a RDBMS, allows a high flexibility, as it is possible to realize spatial operations at the source of the data. PostGIS is an extension for PostgreSQL and defines new types of data, creates two tables with relevant information to the system (data projection and a column that contains the geographic information). Furthermore, it possesses interfaces for the data exchange with MapServer. Map of Andalusia, Spain, created with gvSIG.

levels. The aim is to maximize access to spatial data and minimize the redundancy of investments. To construct an SDI, some duties must be carried out. It is inevitable to possess the metadata of geographic information. As software elements, the following parts are necessary: Web Map Server: distributes geographic information. As an Open Source solution, UMN MapServer could be used; Catalogue: helps to search and localize the geographic data; SDI client: desktop GIS client. The only one that is capable is gvSIG, in Open Source as well as in proprietary software. gvSIG: UMN MapServer: PostGIS: INSPIRE: Open Geospatial Consortium:

Alvaro Anguix Alfaro ( and Andreas Wehrle ( are respectively Head of the Open Source department and GIS Specialist for Iver Information Technologies, a Spanish GIS applications developer.

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GIS Contributes to the Constitution of Iraq

Urgent Need for Information on Available Water Resources
The Otoman Empire collapsed in the first decades of the twentieth century, leaving behind a hunting ground in the Middle East for the remaining imperialists. In their struggle for control the competing superpowers redrew the map several times with very little consideration of ethnic borders and natural units. By Zoltn Vekerdy
tinental scale runoff modelling. The underlying technology makes it possible to preserve the accuracy of the in-situ discharge measurements as well as the spatial and temporal distribution of simulated runoff. Thereby it provides the best estimate of terrestrial runoff over large domains. The calculations are based on a global 30-minute grid (Fekete et al. 2000).

Small Database
ITC hydrologists used the Integrated Land and Water Information System (ILWIS) - software developed by the Institute itself - for analysing the data and calculating the spatial distribution of the water resources in Iraq and the neighbouring countries. The overlays, see image, were merged into a small database. The results were sent, both in quantitative map, and tabular forms to the United Nations within just a few hours of the initial request, enabling negotiations to proceed without interruption. A constitution never contains technical details. The result map and the table formed the basis of formulating the sections about the need for fair distribution of water resources. Without this technical information, the negotiators would not had a clear view about the issue of water in the region. Without GIS technology, it would not have been possible to provide the requested information within a few hours. The constitution of Iraq was accepted on 15 October 2005 (Wikipedia 2005).

Calculation units overlaid with the basic grid of the composite runoff fields. Sources: (Fekete et al. 2000) and UN.

Rainfall and Snowmelt

The dry climate makes control over water to be of primary importance for the survival of the population. The vast lowlands are deserts and almost all the water is brought to the people by the rivers collecting runoff from rainfall and snow melt in the mountains. Abundance of river water made the early emergence of civilizations in the TigrisEuphrates valley possible, and mainained vast wetlands throughout history in one of the dryest climates of the Earth. It is understandable that for Iraq, the downstream country of the region, proper legislation over water rights is a cornerstone to peaceful development. A large part of the population lives in regions with very scarce water resources, so control of this commodity received careful attention during the formulation of the most significant law of Iraq: the constitution. Information on available resources in and around the country was
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needed to ensure the correct wording in the document.

Quick Assessment
The United Nations approached the department of Water Resources of the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), the Netherlands, requesting for a quick assessment of the situation, as the negotiating partners had asked for this information in the course of drafting the law. This meant an unbiased and consistent response was needed almost immediately. Publicly available information on the World Wide Web and geo-information technology were the basic tools applied in this mini-project. Information on global water resources can be found on the website of the Water Systems Analysis Group of the Complex Systems Research Center of the University of New Hampshire. This data set is based on the combination of measured river discharges and con-

Fekete, B., C. J. Vrsmarty and W. Grabs (2000). Global, composite runoff fields based on observed river discharge and simulated water balances. New Hampshire, USA, Water Systems Analysis Group, Complex Systems Research Center (CSRC), University of New Hampshire: 115.
Zoltn Vekerdy ( is an Assistant Professor at ITC, Department of Water Resources. More information via, and

June 2006


Shifting Mindsets in an Evolvin

Impediment by Transformation Processes

FIG-Vice president Stig Enemark with FIG chairs and incomming chairs of FIG-commissions 2, 3 and 7 on the occasion of the FIG Workshop on e-Governance, Knowledge Management and e-Learning, Budapest April 2006.

People in a society are generally unaware of the impact of slowly evolving changes over a long period of time. Evolution, in contrast to revolution, does not tend to create historical milestones. However, our living space, together with spatial and social environments, is changing significantly.

Paper Maps
There is an enormous reduction in land resources occurring every year, reducing the availability of rural agricultural land. Similarly the paradigm shift of providing spatial information online as opposed to paper maps is changing societys mindsets almost beyond recognition compared to just a few years ago. The processes that underpin our social interactions have changed beyond all recognition in recent years enabling us to use the interrelated parameters of location, space and time. This, together with technological innovation, has supported the creation of a mobile society that requires rapid access to a variety of information and supporting processes. This is just the beginning of the major changes that will confront us in the future. Society will think spatially without realising it. This will be the ultimate shifting of the human mindset.

Gerhard Muggenhuber and Rob Mahoney


June 2006


g Society
The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) supports the current transformation process by providing a platform for networking, transfer of knowledge and sharing of innovative ideas amongst professional surveyors world wide. FIG, through its ten commissions, focuses on specific topics within the surveying profession. Examples of the commissions work are provided in documents downloadable, from on the FIG website These include: Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications; FIG Surveying Education Database; Hydrography in Ports and Harbours; Contributions to sustainable development: Urban-Rural Interrelationship for Sustainable Development Best Practice Guidelines in City-wide Land Information Management Spatial Information for Sustainable Development Land Administration for Sustainable Development FIG cooperates closely with a number of organisations including: United Nations Office for Outer Space on multiple and integrated satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO); Habitat Professionals Forum; The Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies; International Federation of Hydrographic Societies; UNB on Marine Cadastre; United Nations Working Party on Land Administration. large organisations were required to finance the introduction of the technology. Today these tools have become pervasive and are widely used by the general public, often without them being aware of it. Handheld devices, similar to conventional mobile phones (and now becoming incorporated into mobile phones), have become capable of providing knowledge of the users current geographic position. These tools, and the services they provide, require improved access to relevant databases. The geo-industry is now moving ahead rapidly to provide the appropriate geo-tools to support the growing availability of geospatial information. One of the largest exhibitions in Europe designed to display state-of-the-art geo-tools will take place at the FIG-conference in Munich in October 2006. sophisticated society, create a potential weakness for such systems.

Four Areas
In the field of spatial information management the changes that are occurring can best be observed by considering four inter-related areas: geo-tools, geo-data, processes, and human interactions.

Geo-data More and more geo-data has become available in the public arena in recent years. Within the last decade significant volumes of geodata have been digitised creating valuable data sources. The impact of this data availability has made significant inroads into social interaction both at the individual and organisational level. The industry is currently working hard to harmonise a number of related reference systems that will ensure the interoperability user friendly data. Users will be able to combine information gathered in the field with positional information derived from GNSSservices (GPS, Galileo) and others. Today, we are already able to address some of the major user complaints by combining data associated with different reference frames and different databases. One of the challenges to be addressed in the near future will be the transition from normal heights to orthometric heights where the user will find it complex to understand that physical observations of the same water level, does not mean same height. This type of example will require major marketing activities to ensure that the users really understand the complexity of the datasets involved. Without this awareness of the issues surrounding the use of some datasets, misinterpreted data could, during a period of transition to a more

Processes One of the major challenges facing the emerging spatial society is how to improve the processes associated with the wide use and availability of spatial information. In the past the general public was not particularly interested in technical issues with the consequence that decision-making was often regarded as being clouded in mystery. However, within the last decade individuals have been able to experience the benefits to be gained from improved processes such as new public management and e-government initiatives. These public sector reforms have focused public administrations attention on the citizens interests, promoting the need for comparable services within the public and private sectors. Among the initiatives being devised to improve transparency, copyright and cost issues is EU-INSPIRE. Modern governance requires transparency and the involvement of communities and citizens in the decision-making process. This also applies to community-based land management processes and development administration in general. Modern spatial information management tools facilitate decentralisation, community empowerment, and citizen participation, which guarantee social cohesion and a sense of belonging. Visualisation of spatial information can, and will increasingly, be used to optimise the sustainable resources within a given framework. We have to be aware that some societies with various and diverse value systems are naturally under higher social pressure and this requires even more focus on transparent processes. Human Interactions A key issue is how we can introduce the improved use of geo-tools, spatial data and processes. Successful organisations tend to encourage employees to adopt common value systems which ensure that the activities of individuals are in line with the mission and vision of the organisation.

Geo-tools In the past only experts had the education and training to use complex geo-tools and

Society will think spatially without realising it. This will be the ultimate shifting of the human mindset.
June 2006

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Honorary guests at the Austrian Geodetic conference in Krems, May 2006.

This approach also applies to societies where government initiatives, such as the educational system in Finland, are designed to provide long-term success in this area a serious investment in creating a shifting mindset. The approach of customers to processes and services based on spatial information, however, cannot be influenced and training can be difficult to achieve. This is in spite of the fact that this is rapidly changing and there are examples of technical innovations being introduced within the last decade without any training at all. A good example of this is the mobile telephone, a complex technological device sold and used with minimal or no training. Similarly services like access to spatial information provided by Google Earth do not require any knowledge of GIS. This trend tends to suggest that technology is no longer the challenge, nor is it impeding the take-up of these systems. The real challenge is to understand peoples approach to the utilisation of services and to make decisions at the policy level. This may well lead to a situation where there is a need for society to undergo a fundamental change in the way that it thinks about jobs and service delivery.

by the State which in turn has led to the situation where licences to practise are required in some jurisdictions, and this has a negative impact on the mobility of surveyors. Improvements have already been achieved on the educational level where the Bologna process has been initiated to ensure a harmonised academic education standard across Europe allowing young people to become more flexible. Degrees awarded across Europe will provide certified levels of education and encourage cross border recognition, which in turn will provide greater work force mobility. On the professional level CLGE (Comit Liaison des Geomtrs Europens, as well as the ECEC (European Council of Engineers Chambers are working on the harmonisation of professional qualifications in geodetic surveying.

plinary knowledge coming together, it is necessary to combine and reconnect the required knowledge. The implementation of inter-institutional projects requires a balanced mix of exploration and exploitation of knowledge, where exploration is more important in the conceptual phase, and exploitation becomes more fruitful in the implementation phase. Good ideas come from people with talent working together. Professionals, such as Tabberer, emphasise the need for organisations to be not only reasonably good at managing data (maps) and information (planning processes) but also at managing knowledge (or: profiting from lessons learnt in a way others can readily use). This approach applies not only to institutions but also to whole regions such as the European Union, and also to the worldwide non-governmental organisation of professional surveyors, FIG.

Knowledge sharing processes will be, and already are, a central feature of the functioning of governments

Knowledge Artefacts
Whenever people communicate they convey knowledge and skills highly contextualised to their and their partners current work situation. The way of creating, managing and disseminating knowledge artefacts (for example a protocol of a meeting) has already changed considerably in recent years. The integration of spatial information with all the temporal aspects will increasingly be embedded in decision-making processes leading to optimised decision making and transparency. Communication, cooperation and networking as bases for knowledge sharing processes will create a shifting mindset that is more efficient and dynamic enabling geodata to be used more effectively in the development of a modern society.
Gerhard Muggenhuber ( is head of FIG-Commission 3 Spatial Information Management. Rob Mahoney FRICS FBCartS ( is Principle of MahGeoan Independent Consulting Company based in the UK.

Several things are needed to transform to a knowledge value society. One of them obviously is knowledge, which has always been a trigger for the development of a society. The introduction of a systematic education system for the general public in Europe a few hundred years ago created the base for many of the innovations responsible for transforming the agro-oriented society to an industrial society. We can assume that Knowledge is closely linked with the educational system and Life Long Learning (LLL). Europe has a long tradition of cultural and educational diversity. Educational systems have developed to meet the specific requirements of individual States. There is considerable variation in the amount of control over the professions administered

as well as of many organisations.

Focus for the Future
Knowledge sharing processes will be, and already are, a central feature of the functioning of governments as well as of many organisations. The importance of knowledge sharing has become even more evident with the rise of e-government projects, as these have a networking effect on bureaucracies, bringing together individuals from different organisational units, with different models, to work on a common goal: the implementation of a project. With multiple agencies and multidisci-

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June 2006



What the Macro World Needs

Interview with Ola Rolln from Hexagon AB
So far GeoInformatics has had interviews with Hans Hess, former CEO of Leica Geosystems (GeoInformatics 7- 2005), Richard McKay, vice president sales and Sara Upchurch, marketing communications manager with the Geospatial Imaging Division of Leica Geosystems (GeoInformatics 1-2006). Since it is quite clear that we will hear more of Hexagon in the future, we wanted to give you readers an impression of the company and the person leading this organisation. By Sonja de Bruijn
took place in the summer of 2005. At the same time Hexagon made a bid for Leica Geosystems. Rolln makes clear that there is a strong emphasis on growing Hexagons market share; being number three in the market is out of the question. He explains what he thinks makes Hexagon a strong company: We focus on precision products and these should make a difference for our customers. This means that they should see that they benefit from our products. We regard ourselves as being the innovators and having cost leadership because then you can defend your market share. In measurement technology there are three markets where Hexagon has the intention of becoming a leading player: the macro, micro and nano market.

Micro Market
By the end of 2005 Hexagon acquired Leica Geosystems. What differences and similarities are there between the two companies? We offer our customers technology to position and measure objects and functional accuracy and range, is Rollns answer. The market Leica Geosystems is active in has traditionally been a 2D world but it is moving to 3D. Our market, the micro market, has always been in 3D so we are specialist in creating software products and measurement technology in three dimensions. To make things clear Rolln compares measuring the Mount Everest and a silicon waver. The accuracy might not be that precise when measuring a big object like a mountain, but that is not really important. However if you want to measure a silicon waver the measurement range might be two centimetres and the accuracy needed might be below a micron of a millimetre. The thing is that you use the same mathematical algorithm to determine what it looks like and the same basic technology to measure it. Traditionally the macro market was all about measuring the distance and the angle. Now with 3D you really get an idea of what the object looks like in the real world. Images are captured from the air in 3D, then laser scanning is applied to compare the data. Accordingly three-dimensional software will interpret all this and create a very

Ola Rolln, CEO of Hexagon.

Three Business Areas

Hexagon AB, with headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, offers global technologies and does not really focus on a specific market. The company covers three business areas: Measurement Technologies, Polymers and Engineering, of which the first one represents 75 per cent of Hexagons business. (45 50 per cent before the take-over of Leica Geosystems). Measurement technology headquarters are situated in London, and sales turnover amounts to about 1.5 million USD. The organisation has 7,500 employees in thirty countries, of which about 5,000 are active in measurement technology department.

Since the acquisition of Leica Geosystems Hexagon has been listed on the Stockholm and Zurich stock exchanges

Core Businesses
Five years ago Hexagon was a small Scandinavian company engineering conglomerate with 500 million euros turn over in sales. When I took over the management of Hexagon I decided to continue to grow rapidly, but to focus on a few strategic core businesses, says Ola Rolln, CEO of Hexagon. In order to increase sales a new strategic plan was formed. Part of this plan was the disposal of Hexagon Automation, representing 37 per cent of sales, and this


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is 3D
Joint Projects
On the other hand the micro world needs the development of laser scanners from the macro world. Hexagon Metrology and Leica are currently working on this in five joint developing projects. Rolln: We are aiming at two things: introducing our software and services into the macro world and introducing the laser sensor technology into the micro world. Four years ago we started looking at this development and have been following Topcon, Trimble, Sokkia and Leica since that time. The first two were highly valued on the stock market, Sokkia had a weaker position. In Leica we found a strong merger with Hexagon Metrology. Now we want to grow Leicas presence in the macro area. We expect to have 18 per cent market share in the macro market in 2008 and we would like that to grow. Leica has had a weaker position in its distribution in North America compared to Europe so we are aiming at strengthening this position in North America. Rolln further explains that as a company Leica Geosystems will not change as such. The Hexagon- Leica Geosystems relationship is more of an R&D collaboration in order to launch new products both in the macro and in the micro world. What does need to be changed is its position in the micro world, where Leica Geosystems is quite unknown. Rolln also wants to make clear that most of the cost issues in geospatial imaging division have been addressed. What we want is the platform to become better, get it back on track, since it is the growth area for the future. Nowadays it is all about 3D software for referencing, interpreting, and capturing data. It is my belief that airborne 2D and 3D images and the land-based measurement market will eventually converge. They go hand in hand, and new systems that combine these will emerge. It is a market in which we only want to grow.
Sonja de Bruijn ( is editorial manager of GeoInformatics. More information via

detailed 3D image of the real world which can be used in areas like construction, machine automation, and surveying. 3D modelling will enable construction people to have a sensible communication with architects, one of the big problems in construction. This is the future of the macro world and the way the micro world already works. Handheld laser robots, large sophisticated systems to measure for example intercontinental strategic missiles, total stations, aeroplanes, software to capture and interpret the data, all these hi-tech systems can be used to measure objects. Operators need to be trained and software upgraded which according to Rolln creates a nice aftermarket for Hexagon.

Real World
Rolln is convinced the macro field will become as sophisticated as the micro field. He mentions the automotive industry: The early adopter of new technologies often is this industry, who really needs new technology to be able to reduce costs. This need and understanding is spreading to other indus-

tries. Just have a look at the building construction market. If the automotive industry would work in the same way, it would take years to build a car. There is much pressure, very high accuracy is needed. Furthermore the price of a car has gone down. How do you deal with this as a car manufacturer? In construction many mistakes appear; things dont fit et cetera. 3D is spreading in the construction and geoinformatics world because there is a developing need for it in the market. Increasing the quality is becoming more essential. He continues: Manufacturing costs need to be decreased and this requires more precision in measurements, plus more sophisticated models and software systems. This is already happening when you look at scanning technologies and GPS systems. Hexagon has been working like this for twenty years and we see that we are further ahead when it comes to integration with sophisticated CAD systems, and referencing and extracting useful information out of the huge information flow from for example a point cloud.

3D is spreading in the construction and geoinformatics world because there is a developing need for it in the market. Increasing the quality is becoming more essential.
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June 2006



Ground-Based Aerial Photo

Spectacular Growth in Recent Years
Over the last few years, there has been a spectacular growth in the acquisition of low-altitude aerial photography taken from heights of 200m (600 ft.) or lower. In the past, this has been a difficult environment for the operation of manned aircraft, both in terms of air traffic restrictions and on grounds of safety, especially over urban areas. However new developments in platforms and digital imagers are now allowing low-altitude aerial photography to be obtained in a more or less routine fashion. A big advantage of these new developments is that the airborne imaging can be carried out and controlled remotely from the ground without the need for and the expense of sending someone into the air to execute the operation. by Gordon Petrie



Figure 1 (a) - A mobile van equipped with a 80 ft. (24m) telescopic mast that is used to obtain elevated (aerial) photography using a film, digital or video camera. This particular van belongs to High Level Photography Ltd. based in Guildford, Surrey. The company owner, Keith Hallam is standing in front of the vehicle. (Source: High Level Photography) (b) - An alternative configuration for photography using very tall masts (up to 100 ft.[30m]) is for the telescopic mast to be mounted on a trailer that is towed by a four-wheel drive vehicle. (Source: Cloud 9 Photography)

Different Techniques
Several different techniques have been developed for the acquisition of remotely-controlled ground-based aerial photography from low altitudes. Ranked in terms of their actual usage are the following:(1) vehicle- and tripod-mounted telescopic masts; (2) remotely-controlled mini-helicopters; (3) un-powered (tethered) balloons and blimps; (4) powered (un-tethered) balloons and blimps; and (5) tethered kites.

1. Aerial Photography Using Telescopic Masts (a) Mast Construction

A considerable range and variety of telescopic masts have been developed for low-level aerial photographic operations by system suppliers both in North America and in Europe. These masts can be raised to maximum heights ranging from 13 ft. (4m) up to


June 2006


100 ft. (30m). However these are the extreme ends of the height range; the majority of those masts being operated for the acquisition of aerial photographs in the U.K. reach maximum heights of 50 to 65 ft. (15 to 20m). These masts are usually mounted on vehicles, often equipped with four-wheel drive to be able to reach off-road sites. The shortest masts are constructed from quite narrow diameter tubes of lightweight aluminium alloy that fit (and telescope) into one another. Typically these very short masts will have a 3 inch (7.5cm) diameter for the base tube and a 1.5 inch (3.75cm) diameter for the top tube. At the other end of the height range are a few masts that can be raised to up to 100 ft. (30m). Typically these masts will have base tubes that are 5 to 6 inches (12.5 to 15cm) in diameter and comprise six to eight tubes that telescope into one another. When retracted down for transport, the height of the shorter masts may only be 5 ft. (1.5m). Thus they can be left in position if fitted to the back of a vehicle. With the longer masts, the retracted height will be 8 to 10 ft. (2.5 to 3.5m). These will usually be transported on the roof of the vehicle or occasionally on a towed trailer. tubes. This is the system used by the Clark Masts company which has factories both in the U.K. and Belgium. Power for all of these taller systems is normally supplied by a suitable 12 volt DC battery. and is much less likely to cause an obstruction to traffic than having to hire and position a large crane or cherry-picker - which was the method used previously in such situations. The routine photography of building and construction sites to monitor and record progress and to authorize payments for the actual work that has been done is another widespread application. Needless to say, estate agents often commission lowlevel mast aerial photography of sites and buildings that they wish to sell. The elevated images ensure that the resulting views of the buildings and sites are no longer obstructed or hidden behind hedges, trees, walls, fences or other buildings. Yet another common application is to take low oblique aerial photography of traffic accidents or crime scenes for use by police traffic and criminal investigation departments. In these situations, the resulting images can be handed over to police officers on compact disks at the actual scene of the accident or crime or they can be sent via phone lines or over the Internet to the appropriate police authority, emergency service or media organization. Panoramic images of individual large rooms or halls indoors within buildings can even be taken using a very short mast mounted on a tripod. In the U.K., there is an extensive network of more than 50 mast aerial photographers who compete strongly for business, especially in the densely populated and very prosperous parts of Southern England and the West Midlands.

(c) Mast Cameras

For mast photography, high-quality SLR film cameras equipped with motorized film advance mechanisms are still being used quite extensively in conjunction with a tiny video camera placed behind the viewfinder. This allows the correct pointing of the film camera towards the desired object or area to be carried out under the control of the operator based at ground level. However, nowadays, many operators use digital frame cameras. A few are now using panoramic cameras that provide 360 coverage of the whole area around the mast. Whichever type of camera (film, digital or video) is being used, it is mounted on a motorized pan-andtilt head that is fitted to the top of the mast. This allows the pointing and coverage of the frame camera image to be controlled very precisely by the operator - using the joystick forming part of a control unit located in the vehicle or placed on the ground - before the image is actually exposed. During this set-up operation, the camera image is being transmitted down via a video cable either to the purpose-built control unit (which is equipped with a display monitor) or to a laptop computer having suitable control software. This arrangement allows the operator - and even sometimes the client - to spend time over the composition and timing of the aerial image. The actual exposure of the image is implemented using a remote shutter release. On a very sunny day, a sun-shade or hood will be placed over the control unit or laptop computer to eliminate glare on the screen of the display monitor.

(b) Mast Weights

The weights of the masts will vary according to their length - from perhaps 30 lbs. (13kg) in the case of the very shortest masts to 80 lbs. (36kg) for a 20m mast to over 220 lbs. (100kg) for the tallest heavy-duty masts. These sizes and weights have big impact on the usage of the masts. The shortest and lightest models can be mounted on suitable tripods equipped with adjustable legs and placed on small hand-drawn trolleys or carts for local mobility. The longer, heavier models need to be mounted directly on vehicles or towed on specially-built trailers to the site of their operation. The size and the weight of a specific mast also have an impact on its actual operation. The shorter ones can be raised or lowered either manually or using a hand crank. The taller, heavier masts need to be raised using a power source. A system of wires and pulleys driven by electric motors is used in the masts constructed by the Canadian Luksa Industries company. An alternative is to use a pneumatic system employing compressed air to raise the telescopic

2. Remotely-Controlled Mini-Helicopters
The field of powered radio-controlled model helicopters is one that has been active for some time with many thousands of enthusiasts pursuing it as a hobby and the more serious ones competing in national and international aerobatic competitions. However recent developments have led to the introduction of somewhat larger remotelycontrolled mini-helicopters that are designed specifically as platforms for aerial photography. Before anyone thinks that this is some kind of fringe activity, there are already over 70 small companies in the U.S.A. engaged in this activity that are listed in my Web Links Database. Indeed the rapid development in this field has led to the establishment of the

(d) Applications
The low oblique aerial photography acquired using these telescopic masts finds numerous applications. Acquiring imagery for use in urban modelling is an obvious photogrammetric and GIS application, as its widespread use by architects, planners and site developers. The mast method is relatively simple and unobtrusive to implement. It is also much cheaper and quicker to produce results

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Remote Control Aerial Photography Association (RCAPA) in the United States to which most of these companies belong. More details about the activities of the Association and its members can be obtained from its Web site - . In the U.K., there are at least 10 similar companies and there are a number of others scattered throughout the rest of Western Europe.

(b) Mini-Helicopter Cameras

In the main, the companies operating minihelicopters equip them either with mediumformat (6 x 4.5; 6 x 6; or 6 x 7cm) film cameras fitted with motorized film transport mechanisms and zoom lenses or, more usually nowadays, with lightweight small-format digital frame cameras that produce relatively high-resolution images with an image size of 6 to 14 Megapixels. Alternatively, if the client requires video imagery, then small high-quality video cameras will be used. A few operators have also utilized lightweight high-definition video (HDTV) cameras to capture ground images. In the larger minihelicopters, a motorized gimbal or pan-andtilt mount is used to carry the camera. A miniature radio transmitter/receiver unit mounted in the helicopter receives the appropriate signals from the operator's control unit on the ground. These signals are passed to the motors both on the camera and on the camera mount to carry out the appropriate movements - pan left/right; tilt up/down; zoom in/out - to ensure the correct pointing and coverage of the camera. As noted above, these movements of both the mount and the camera are isolated from the vibration of the helicopter as much as possible. On exposure, each image is transmitted at high speed via a wireless video downlink to the control unit on the ground where it is displayed on the monitor screen of the unit and recorded. Later the captured images can be imported into a CAD or GIS system on which the relevant map of the area is stored, so that the images can be geo-referenced.


(a) Mini-Helicopter Platforms

The mini-helicopters that are used in aerial photographic work are typically 5 to 6 ft. (1.5 to 1.8m) in length with the main rotor blade having a diameter of 5 ft. (1.5m). Most feature a skeletal frame of lightweight aluminium tubes. However some newer models are being constructed using a very lightweight but very rigid frame made of carbon fibre. The power for the smaller models of mini-helicopters is provided by an electric motor that gets its power from a set of small rechargeable batteries. These motors have the advantage of being almost silent in their operation, which is a big advantage in noise-sensitive areas. On the other hand, electrically-powered mini-helicopters are also limited in their flight duration and in their lifting power. Therefore the more powerful types of mini-helicopter are powered by very small petrol (gas) engines. For example, the Bergen Observer - which is purpose-built for aerial photography - uses a Zenoah 26cc petrol engine that allows a payload of 8 lbs. (3.6kg) of camera and radio control equipment to be carried. The still more powerful Bergen Observer Twin uses a twin-cylinder Zenoah engine with double the engine capacity (52cc) and generating 8 horsepower. This allows a payload of 20 lbs. (9kg) to be carried, including a built-in pan-and-tilt system for the camera. This motorized pan-andtilt system sits on a special anti-vibration mount that isolates it from the mechanical vibration of the mini-helicopter. Enough fuel can be carried by the Observer helicopters to provide half-an-hour's flying time. Other purpose-built mini-helicopters for use in professional aerial photography include the Maxi-Joker 2 machine that is manufactured by the Minicopter company in Germany. However this is powered by a electric motor driven by batteries. Thus the weight of its payload is limited to 4.5 lbs. (2kg) and the flight time is reduced to 20 minutes. Another new development from Germany is the DigiFLY that has been developed by the IGI company that is well known for its CCNS and AEROcontrol flight management systems for aerial photography. This platform uses four propellers driven by brushless electric motors


Figure 2 (a) - The Bergen Observer EB remotely-controlled helicopter equipped with a Zenoah G-26 petrol driven engine. A pan-and-tilt system on which the camera is mounted is located at the front end of the helicopter and provides a 270 field of view. The panand-tilt system is isolated from the helicopter mechanical elements through the use of four heavy-duty isolators. (Source: Bergen R/C Helicopters) (b) - One of the radio-controlled helicopters that is operated by the High Spy Company in the U.K. This particular example utilizes a frame built by the German manufacturer, Vario Helicopters and a Zenoah 23cc petrol engine. The on-board electronics include a 3-axis gyro-controlled camera mount, a GPS set, a magnetic compass and a barometric height sensor. (Source: High Spy) (c) - This electrically powered Maxi-Joker radio-controlled helicopter was designed specifically as an aerial camera platform and was built by the Minicopter company based in Vollmer, Germany. (Source: Minicopter)

(c) Applications
Obviously quite a number of the possible applications of the images acquired by the mini-helicopter will overlap with those that can be implemented using a telescopic mast. These will include the monitoring of construction sites. In this respect, the telescopic mast can often operate more closely to the specific building or structure being inspected, especially in urban areas. Whereas the minihelicopter, operating at a greater altitude, can provide the wider coverage needed for a large site. The mini-helicopter is, of course, also well suited to the acquisition of imagery of wetlands and swampy areas for environmental assessment and analysis where wheeled vehicles equipped with masts cannot operate or penetrate. The higher operating altitude of the mini-helicopter is also advantageous when woodland has to be assessed from an overhead position rather than at the low oblique angle given by the mast. When equipped with a video camera,

and features an integrated GPS/IMU/barometer combination to provide an electronic flightstabilization system. Various types of imager - digital, thermal-IR or video - can be used to provide the imaging of the ground. The latest development in this field is to fit small gas turbine engines to mini-helicopters. This increases the available power very substantially and therefore the payload that can be carried - but at a very substantial financial cost.

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Figure 3 (a) - This 18 ft. (5m) long helium blimp belongs to the PhotoComAsia company and is based in Bangkok, Thailand. The position and height of the platform is controlled by the tether rope attached to the front of the blimp. The camera and its mount are suspended by additional ropes attached to the middle of the blimp's envelope. (Source: PhotoComAsia) (b) - A tethered blimp operated by the Skycell company of York, England is being launched to acquire aerial photography of the Roman amphitheatre in Chester. (Source: Skycell Ltd.)



(c) - An oblique aerial photograph of part of the Castle Howard estate located near York, England taken from a tethered blimp. It includes the magnificent 18th Century mansion with its distinctive dome (in the background); an ornamental bridge (in the middle ground) and the Mausoleum (in the foreground). (Source: Skycell Ltd.)

the helicopter also provides a highly mobile platform from which continuous video 'flyover' imagery of the ground can be generated. However it must also be said that the mini-helicopter is much more likely to be at risk from damage through engine failure, loss of control or flight into an obstruction such as telephone or power lines. Special care needs to be taken in urban areas where the risk to both people and property could be high. It is interesting to note that some aerial photographic companies operate both telescopic masts and mini-helicopters, thus allowing them to select the most suitable platform for a particular task.

3. Un-powered (Tethered) Balloons & Blimps (a) Balloons and Blimps

As is well known, the very first aerial photograph was taken from a tethered balloon over the Bievre Valley in France by Gaspard Felix Tournachon (better known by his nom-deplume as 'Nadar') in 1858 - nearly 150 years ago! Even at that time, it was apparent that un-tethered balloons were not suitable platforms for the acquisition of aerial photography - since they simply travel where the wind takes them and not necessarily over the targeted area. Still it is worth noting that spherically-shaped un-tethered balloons are being

used extensively for certain types of scientific research - for example, by NASA undertaking atmospheric and astronomical research at ultra-high altitudes (120,000 ft. = 36km or more) in the stratosphere. However these high-altitude research balloons do not need to reach or stay over a specific area or target on the ground - as is required for aerial photography. Instead streamlined aerodynamicallyshaped blimps equipped with fins arranged in an X- or Y-shaped configuration that provide much more stability are used for low-altitude aerial photography. The blimp envelope is made of a lightweight polyurethane-coated nylon material that is highly resistant to being torn. The fins are sometimes made from a stiff


June 2006



Figure 4 (a) - A powered balloon operated by Skycell Ltd. acquiring photography in Wells Cathedral in Somerset, England. The ducted propellers can be seen on each side of the balloon with the digital camera on its mount hanging down from the centre of the main envelope of the balloon. (Source: Dr. Szymanski, University of York) (b) - A powered blimp operated by the av8pix company based in Guernsey in the Channel Islands acquiring photography in the nave of Hereford Cathedral in the west of England. (Source: av8pix) (c) A lightweight gondola slung below the powered blimp showing the camera housing and ducted propellers. (Source: av8pix) (d) - A blimp with its trailer-cum-hanger that is being towed by a four-wheel drive vehicle. (Source: av8pix).


but lightweight composite material. Even when tethered, these blimps can only be used as stable camera platforms in fairly calm conditions or at very low wind speeds - below 10 mph (15 kph). Nevertheless, in spite of these limitations, there are now quite a substantial number of commercial operators using unmanned, tethered blimps routinely for aerial photographic purposes in the more highly developed countries of North America, Western Europe and Australia. Most of these blimps are quite small in size - typically 10 to 20 ft. (3 to 6m) in length. Costs are kept low since there are quite a number of competing manufacturers who build blimps in quantity for commercial advertising purposes.

(b) Helium Blimps v. Hot-Air Balloons

Regarding the blimps and balloons used for low-altitude aerial photography, there is a choice to be made between the different lighter-than-air gases that can be used as the lifting medium within the envelope. Since hydrogen and methane are both highly flammable gases, for safety reasons, they are not suitable for use in blimps and balloons. So the choice really lies between helium and hot-air. For a given volume, helium has a much greater (5x) lifting capacity than hot air, which is produced using a propane burner

attached to a suitable storage tank. So a hotair balloon must be much larger in terms of its size and volume for a given lifting capacity and is correspondingly more expensive to manufacture and to buy than a helium blimp. Thus almost all aerial photographic blimps use helium which is available stored in transportable steel cylinders at a fairly low cost in most highly developed countries. However hot-air balloons do have one small advantage in that propane is much more readily available in small easily-transported tanks since it is used extensively for heating and cooking purposes world-wide. With the helium blimps, the gas is sometimes released into the atmosphere once the aerial photographic session has been completed - since it is very difficult, indeed impractical to return it to the storage cylinder. However, nowadays, most commercial aerial photographic operators transport the small blimp fully inflated in a suitable towed trailer. In which case, the gas will not be vented deliberately into the atmosphere - though it will do so slowly through leakage over a period of time.

in Canada, use a |calibrated photogrammetric camera (such as the RolleiMetric) designed specifically for mapping purposes. Each film or digital camera will also have a tiny auxiliary video camera fitted to it for viewing purposes. The camera will sit in a motorized mount that is controlled from the ground. This allows it to be pointed in the required direction and give the desired coverage. The pan-and-tilt mount is often attached to a keel or rail fitted along the bottom of the blimp. Since the blimp will be tethered using a strong but very lightweight rope or cord, the control signals and the digital images being downloaded after their exposure will usually be transmitted to and from the control unit on the ground using a video cable attached to and wound round the tether rope. However some operators use a wireless (radio) link to transmit signals and video image data to and from the blimp. In calm conditions, the tether rope attached to a small blimp can be attached at the other end to a harness worn by the camera operator on the ground. He can then walk and manoeuvre the blimp into the correct position with the aid of the portable video monitor of the control unit. However other operators attach the tether to a small winch equipped with a crank handle to control the length of the line that has to be paid out. To change the film or the camera lens, the blimp is simply brought back down to the ground by hand or using the winch and crank handle, an action that only takes a few minutes to complete. The blimp can then be re-launched as soon as the required changes have been made.

(d) Applications
As for the applications of blimp aerial photography, many of these will be the same as those described above for mast and R/C helicopter photography - especially the monitoring of construction sites and the elevated oblique photography of properties that are being developed or put up for sale. The tethered blimps can be operated at flying heights of up to 400 ft. (120m) without the need to obtain permission or file flight plans with the air traffic control authorities though operation over or near to defence installations and around airports and airfields is strictly controlled. This ability to fly blimps at greater altitudes than can be used with telescopic masts allows them to achieve greater area coverage of the ground and the use of steeper angles if this is required. In this respect, blimps compete with R/C helicopters. Indeed quite a number of service providers of ground-based aerial photography use masts for altitudes up to 75 ft. (23m) and blimps if still higher altitudes are required.

(c) Blimp Cameras

The types of camera and the mounts that are commonly used for the aerial photography being taken from blimps are similar to those discussed above in the context of masts and R/C mini-helicopters. Either |motorized medium-format film cameras such as the Pentax and Mamiya models with a |6 x 7cm format or small- to medium-format digital cameras are commonly used. A few operators, e.g. Dartmap

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licity, including being featured on national television. The surveys have included the systematic photography of both the exterior and interior of large churches such as York Minster and Hereford, Wells, Winchester and Gloucester Cathedrals. These images now form part of the National Monument Record of the English Heritage organisation. Skycell has also car(a) (b) ried out imaging surveys of the Roman Figure 5 (a) - Aerial photography is being acquired in this photo using a Flowform kite being flown by Scott Haefner of Palo Alto, Amphitheatre in the city of California. The Nikon digital camera is attached to the main tether line using a set of Picavet suspension cables that carries the cross-shaped base plate and the camera mount. (Source: Scott Haefner) Chester that is currently the (b) - A detailed annotated photograph of the camera set-up devised by Dennis Williams of Clinto, Massachusetts, which he uses to acquire subject of an investigative kite aerial photography (KAP). (Source: Dennis Williams) and renovation project being carried out by 4. Powered (Untethered) controlled manually. Since the size of the English Heritage and Chester City Council. Balloons & Blimps blimp is quite small - typically up to 30 ft. The resulting images have been used to con(9m) in length and 9 ft. (2.5m) in diameter struct a computer-based model of the site. The fitting of engines to provide power to it is usually transported fully inflated in a 5. Tethered Kites blimps and balloons means that they can be specially-built trailer. The trailer also acts as operated without tethers to much higher altia protective hangar when away from the The golden age of kite aerial photography tudes and enables them to carry a much base and carries the helium storage cylin(KAP) was the 15 year period prior to World greater payload. These characteristics lead to ders. War I. However, with the development of them being described sometimes as (b) Cameras aircraft, kite aerial photography almost died unmanned mini-airships. While some of The powered blimp is usually fitted with a out. Over the last 20 years, it has regained these platforms are being used purely for very lightweight gondola made of carbon some ground and is now pursued as a advertising purposes, quite a number are fibre, as are the ducts that shroud the prohobby by hundreds of enthusiasts worldnow being used for the acquisition of aerial pellers. This gondola carries the motors; the wide. It is also being used as an aid to photography using still (frame) film, digital re-chargeable batteries and the transmitter/ certain research activities in geomorphology and video cameras. With the availability of receiver used for control purposes. Typically and hydrology by a small number of univermotors, blimps can carry out a larger and it will also carry a lightweight rotatable camsity field scientists. Still it is difficult to envismore systematic photographic coverage in a era mount, again made of glass- or carbonage kite aerial photography being adopted much shorter time. fibre that allows a 360 (pan) rotation and a commercially as a standard technique. Most (a) Platforms full range of tilt movements. In some cases, of the very small number of commercial The powered blimps can be equipped either the mount is gyro-stabilized. The actual camoperators that offer kite aerial photography with electric motors or petrol-fuelled engines, eras that are used inside this sophisticated do so as a supplement to one of the other giving forward speeds of up to 30 knots mount are the digital, film and video camground-based techniques described above. (55kph). As with the R/C mini-helicopters, the eras described above in the section on teth6. Conclusion use of brushless electric motors gives a nearered blimps. silent operation, whereas the use of petrol (c) Applications Ground-based aerial photography has develengines provides a substantial increase in Obviously the use of a powered blimp allows oped rapidly over the last few years and has range, endurance and payload. However low-altitude aerial photographic surveys to now become firmly established in certain occasionally problems may be experienced be undertaken over more extensive areas of more highly developed countries. Further with noise and exhaust smoke emitted by the terrain in a timely manner than is practidevelopments in platforms in combination petrol engines. Whichever type of engine is cal using an unpowered blimp employing with the new forms of digital imaging will used, typically they drive three-bladed ducttethers. In the U.K., an extensive series of almost certainly lead to its spread and ed propellers. These can be vectored (tilted) surveys of churches and other historic buildadoption on a world-wide basis. over a considerable range to provide the ings has been carried out by two commercial control of the powered blimp or balloon inGordon Petrie ( is Emeritus operators of powered blimps - av8pix and flight using the radio-control signals being Professor in the Dept. of Geographical & Earth Skycell. These have largely eliminated the transmitted from the ground control station. Sciences of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, U.K. need for and the associated costs involved A GPS-based autopilot is sometimes used for in erecting scaffolding. Needless to say, the main (photographic) flight, although the these surveys have generated extensive pubtake-off and landing of the blimp will still be

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The Possibilities Are Unlimi

ESA Actively Promotes Earth Observation Products
Remote sensing from satellites or Earth Observation (EO) can be useful in many applications. The potential value of earth observation products and services has long been well recognised. However, despite rapid progress over the years, many users feel that these products and services still fall short of expectations or present limitations in their effective use. By Robin Wevers
tional information services in order to improve or enhance what is on offer. Coulson says: To convince customers of the benefits of earth observation EOMD has carried out 75 trials involving about 130 customers focussing on 20 main service portfolios. Examples include geological mapping, land subsidence monitoring, flood mapping, monitoring of agricultural crops, detection of ships and monitoring of oil spills.

Coulson explains the characteristics of earth observation: It is quite simple: satellites are flying around the world, seeing the 'big-picture'. They do not distinguish between different countries, languages or cultures. Satellites are extremely stable pieces of equipment and provide the same type of information wherever and whenever they are. These may seem like simplistic statements, but are in fact very important. To give an example, we have been working with an oil producer who operates a number of drilling wells in the US. This oil producer constantly needs information on the land subsidence the oil production causes, as wells can easily collapse. Of course, this can be done on ground level, but this is expensive and provides local information only. Satellites can measure small movements, in centimetres or less, of the land surface. Within 15 seconds a satellite can image an area of 100 x 100 km and provide tens of thousands of measurements. It can do this once a month, for a long time. A lot of people worrying about subsidence are simply unaware of these possibilities. Now the US oil company is one of our biggest converts: they regularly buy and use this type of information from satellites for their operational business. Coulson is the first to admit that satellites also have their limitations: They are expensive. However, the commercial costs of satellite data are coming down and this opens up more possibilities for services using these data. It is a value-for-money issue. Here, I think that companies in the EO satellite services sector can improve. They need to keep the focus on the customer, and not let the technical wizardry get in the way. Another limitation of EO is the limited temporal and spatial resolution and the inability of optical sensors to see through clouds.

East Mediterranean region as seen by ESA Envisat satellite (Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer instrument) on 21 July 2004. The Eastern Mediterranean Sea area is vulnerable to earthquakes and Earth Observation satellite images are useful for providing updated views of how the landscape has been affected as well as creating reference cartography for emergency operations. Courtesy of ESA.

The market for earth observation products and services has remained small when compared to the cost of developing space assets. Although the potential of the commercial market is still considered to be large, it has become clear that the optimistic forecasts of the early 1990s regarding the growth of commercial exploitation of EO missions have not been realized. Nowadays, it is well understood that the market is difficult to be exploited without accompanying measures. Within this context the ESA started the

Earth Observation Market Development (EOMD) initiative in 2000. The EOMD has the objective to foster the use of Earth Observation (EO) based geoinformation services within various market sectors. Stephen Coulson, Head of the Industry section of the Earth Observation Programs at ESA, gives his views of the developments. EOMD means the first time for ESA to directly support the market development phase of satellite-based products and services. The approach has been to 'plug-in' information from space into conven-


June 2006


start of a big joint initiative between the European Space Agency and the European Commission to put space to work for the benefit of European environmental and security policies. The pollution of our water, the state of our forests, cities and countryside, and the quality of the air we breathe are very much of interest to us all. GMES should deliver information services to a whole host of international, national and regional agencies and organisations who are legally mandated to care for and protect our environment and need information to do this. In addition, GMES should give industry the opportunity to 'spin off' a wide range of new commercial services, some of which we probably cannot even imagine at the moment. But bear in mind that something of this scale does not happen overnight; it took 20-25 years for information from space to be used and be shown everyday on TV in weather forecasting.
Stephen Coulson's view on the future: "In my opinion, the true value of Earth Observation will come into play when the modelling, assimilation and forecasting techniques are fully developed".

The Future
Coulson shares his thoughts about the future: In my opinion, the true value of Earth Observation will come into play when the modelling, assimilation and forecasting techniques are fully developed. Take meteorology. People are not very interested in knowing what the weather is like at that moment - they can simply look out of the window. But when the forecast for tomorrow or the next few days is given, then people do get interested. The same goes for Earth Observation. When it becomes possible to use this information to understand and predict the effect that humans are having and will have on our planet, then people will get more than interested. This all starts with GMES. The next decade is going to be the most exciting and challenging period in the field of Earth Observation.
Robin Wevers ( is a freelance writer of geo-ict-articles. More information can be found at

These limitations of earth observation data can only be overcome by combining these data with in-situ measurements, which provide the calibration data necessary for validation.

Market Analysis
Coulson about the current market: First let me say that currently the earth observation market is small. Studies estimate that the total revenues from Earth observation services across Europe are about 250 - 275 million euros in 2002. The optimistic forecasts that EO would become fully commercial have not come true. Nowadays, it is recognised that the market is difficult to exploit and that is why we have a program like EOMD. The market is now emerging from a long period of stagnation. Currently we are seeing growth in commercial sales of services, particularly in the areas of land motion, geological mapping and maritime surveillance. According to Coulson there are still some market segments that have serious as yet unexploited potential for the EO-industry: We live in an age where information is one of the most valuable assets in business. The possibilities are unlimited. We are now starting activities to test what Earth Observation

can do in the area of sustainable development with large corporate industries. This is a hot topic; big industries are very sensitive in being able to show that they can develop their business without damaging the environment. We are working very closely with large international companies like Shell, Suez Energy, Alcan and Lafarge group to demonstrate that EO information can help them out in monitoring and reporting their corporate activities. Another area we are looking at is whether EO can play a role in assessing the exposure risk for industries associated with climate change. There is increasing pressure from leading investors, especially in the US, to enforce companies to analyse and disclose how the consequences of climate change could affect their assets and businesses. These consequences include things like floods, droughts, storms, fires, rising sea levels and melting ice. Industry is becoming more active here, an example being the 'Climate Group' recently set up and lead by SwissRe in the UK.

According to Coulson Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) is the wake-up call for Earth Observation: It is the

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Interview with Leading Manufa

Questions on Future Market and Developments
In alphabetical order Hemispere, Leica Geosystems, Navcom Technology, NovAtel, OmniSTAR, and Thales Navigation will provide answers to six questions mainly related to the future. We hope this article will give you readers a clear overview of the direction of these leading companies.
NavCom Technology: NavCom Technology, Inc. (, a wholly owned subsidiary of Deere & Co., designs and manufactures precision GNSS positioning and wireless communication products for agriculture, survey, construction, machine automation, offshore and military applications. GNSS hardware is supplemented by a commercial Global Satellite Based Augmentation System for base-free precise point positioning. NovAtel: NovAtel ( is a publically traded company that designs, markets and sells high-precision GPS and other positioning components and sub-systems used in a variety of commercial applications principally in the aviation, geomatics (surveying and mapping), mining, precision agriculture, marine and defence industries. NovAtel is also the principal supplier of reference receivers to national aviation ground networks in the US, Japan, Europe, China and India. Its solutions combine hardware, such as receivers and antennas, with software to enable its customers to fully integrate the companys high-precision GPS technology into their respective products and systems. The newest OEMV family of engines delivers GNSS positioning and features such as GLONASS measurements, GPS modernization (L2C & L5), API, Vision Correlator capability and integrated L-band. They are also RoHS compliant. In conditions where GPS alone is less reliable, NovAtel has developed SPAN Technology - an inertial measurement unit (IMU) combined with an enclosure to provide continuous positioning and attitude. To complement SPAN, NovAtel offers GPS+Inertial post-processing software through its Waypoint Products Group. OmniSTAR: OmniSTAR ( provides commercial real-time satellite Differential GPS (DGPS) services and products worldwide and is active in the design and development of DGPS positioning technology. The OmniSTAR services, OmniSTAR-VBS ('Virtual Base Station; sub-metre level) and OmniSTAR-HP ('High Performance'; decimetre level), have been specifically developed to satisfy the requirement for high accuracy positioning systems and services in land based applications.

NovAtels EuroPak-L1L5E5a receiver with GPS-704X antenna: 16 channel tracking of GPS L1/L5, Galileo L1/E5a and SBAS signals, in a Euro form-factor card, packaged in EuroPak enclosure.

NovAtels SPAN technology: a tightly-coupled integration of GPS and an Inertial Measurement Unit to provide continuous operation through satellite outages with accurate position and attitude measurements.

Please give an overview of your company and products.

Hemisphere: Hemisphere GPS ( was formed in April 2005 as the GPS division of CSI Wireless Inc.; a 15-year-old company with customers in more than 50 countries worldwide. Hemisphere produces GPS and DGPS receivers and components, agricultural guidance systems for ground and air applications, automated steering systems, variable rate control products, heading and attitude solutions for navigation and mapping software. In addition to GPS receiver products, they produce OEM receiver components, antennas and cables. The Hemisphere product line serves several high-growth markets including precision guidance in agriculture (ground-based and aerial), commercial marine, industrial, and geographic mapping & survey. Hemisphere owns a signifi-

cant proportion of its own technology, and controls a growing list of registered and pending patents for the benefit of its worldwide customer base, including many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Leica Geosystems: Leica Geosystems products and services ( are used by professionals worldwide to help them capture, analyze, and present spatial information. Leica Geosystems is best known for its array of products that capture, model, analyze, ad visualize and present spatial information. The products that incorporate GNSS technology include the Leica SmartRover, a cable free, lightweight solution fully compatible with Leica SmartStation, with the new RTK GPS Leica SmartRover designed for modern surveying. Another product is the Leica SmartStation with integrated GNSS, that combines TPS and GPS in one instrument.


June 2006


cturers of Positioning Products

NovAtel: NovAtel is currently fielding GPS/GLONASS and GPS/Galileo receivers. We are working to deliver combined GPS/GLONASS/Galileo receivers in time for Galileo operability and for GLONASS constellation enhancement to full compliment. NovAtel is developing and marketing receivers as the new combined constellation systems come on line and in addition, developing new combined products available in time to capture the full benefits of multiple constellations. OmniSTAR: OmniSTAR as signal provider has plans to add differThe Leica SmartStation with integrated GNSS, that combines TPS and ential GLONASS, and differential GPS in one instrument. Galileo. This will lead to higher accuracy, greater availability and tions and more availability of signals in tradifaster convergence. The overall GNSS market tionally difficult reception areas. This will lead will grow and OmniSTAR will keep focus on to more solutions for various applications in the professional high-end users. non-traditional areas. These would include better solutions at lower costs to farmers, Thales Navigation: All GNSS markets continue construction companies, mariners and surveygrowing at a very brisk pace. We estimate ors alike. that the GPS Survey market grew at just under 20 per cent in 2005 and the GIS marLeica Geosystems: Leica Geosystems designs ket around 10 per cent. We anticipate that the and develops GNSS products used for precise market will continue to grow as GNSS penepositioning for Surveying, Machine Automation, tration increases in the current segments Reference Station Networks and GIS data colusing GNSS as well as in emerging segments. lection. With the increased number of satellites Thales will continue to focus its product provided by GNSS our customers will benefit develop on solutions that meet the needs of from increased productivity and improved new vertical markets that may not be taking accuracy and robustness of the solution. Leica full advantage of GPS to date because of the Geosystems GNSS products are future proof cost and complexity of deploying and using and designed to support future GNSS signals. professional-grade GPS. NavCom Technology: Accuracy is addictive; more users are appreciating the benefit of positioning accurately the first time. There will be increasing use of real-time precise augmentation services to remove the need to deploy a temporary local base station. Equipment will continue to decrease in size and cost while offering more features, greater integration with other sensors and simplifying use. We believe NavCom and John Deere are well positioned to benefit from these trends especially for autonomous and guidance assisted vehicles.

The Leica SmartRover, a cable free, lightweight solution fully compatible with Leica SmartStation.

Thales Navigation: Thales Navigation ( is a global innovator of positioning and navigation solutions. The company markets its professional GPS and GNSS solutions in the survey, GIS/Mapping, and OEM markets that include consumer electronics, automotive navigation and high-precision applications. It markets its Magellan brand GPS products in vehicle navigation and outdoor markets. For surveyors, Thales latest offerings include Z -Max.Net and ProMark3. Z-Max.Net includes VRS, FKP, NTRIP and GPRS, RTCM V3.0 network communication. ProMark3 offers both hardware and software needed to perform fast centimeter accurate static, stop & go, and kinematic surveys, as well as GIS/mapping, right out of the box. Thales MobileMapper CE includes real-time, sub-meter GPS positioning, embedded Microsoft Windows CE .NET, Bluetooth wireless technology, removable SD card memory and an all-day removable battery.

How do you see the future market for GNSS related products in relation to your company and its current products?
Hemisphere: Hemispheres core business is based upon providing high precision GPS solutions to its customers. As the GNSS system is expanded, we intend to take advantage likely through increasingly accurate solu-

Both GPS and Galileo will introduce new signals and new frequencies. Furthermore more satellites will be available. What will be the benefit(s) of these to future users of (precise) positioning systems?
Hemisphere: Better accuracy due to multiple frequencies and additional signals (more ranging information), longer baselines for RTK ambiguity resolution, more robust ambiguity resolution, improvements in positioning in urban environments due to increased

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June 2006



OmniSTAR Backpack.

Applying OmniSTAR technology, by courtesy of the Agco group, Ltd.

constellation of combined GNSS systems, improved signals that will improve indoor and weak signal positioning. There will also be more robust signal tracking at multiple frequencies (as opposed to marginal P(Y) code tracking) allowing higher dynamics and weaker signal tracking. Better estimation in atmospheric effects due to increased observations will also be possible, thus further improving accuracy. Leica Geosystems: An increased number of available satellites, signal and frequencies provided by an ever expanding GNSS will allow errors to be more accurately modelled, positioning to be more accurate and the robustness of the solution to be further improved. Ultimately, users will be increasingly more productive and work in areas where this was impossible with GPS only. NavCom Technology: Currently, Global Satellite Based Augmentation Systems can achieve sub-decimetre positioning accuracy for GPS dual frequency receivers. Supplement this with local base stations, and accuracies of a few centimetres are possible, even a few millimetres when post processed. The future new signals and satellites will not significantly improve upon these accuracies but should provide more redundancy, integrity and robustness. NovAtel: The Galileo services are generally compatible with existing GPS services. The expectation is that users will demand the added reliability, integrity, and functionality that a combined GPS and Galileo receiver will provide when used together. To a user of a receiver with both systems, the primary advantage is twice as many satellites provid-

ing twice the probability of receiving good signals from good parts of the sky when visibility is reduced or blocked. Vehicles in urban environments will see more signals, more often and suffer less from signal blockage. Surveyors will have higher accuracy measurements, more consistently. Automated guidance for agricultural sprayers, combines and harvesters will be more accurate and signal reception will be improved, reducing signal outages. Difficult inshore navigation on rivers and canals will be safer and more reliable. Aircraft enroute navigation, final approach and landing will have far greater signal redundancy, which could well result in improved safety margins and reduced decision heights for landing. The new GPS frequencies will provide compatible services to those of Galileo, but without user fees. The main benefits will be less complex, more cost effective dual frequency receivers. However the actual number of GPS satellites is not forecast to increase, so the dual constellation benefits above will be limited to use of the combined GPS and Galileo constellations OmniSTAR: L2C delivers better L2 Pseudo Range accuracy. The GPS L5 third frequency will lead to shortened convergence times and will allow more work in Urban canyon environments. Thales Navigation: The high value and utility of real-time access to accurate positioning has been proven by the initial implementation of GPS. It is a testament to this that the US is now embarking on a significant modernization of the GPS system, that Russia has set a goal to fully deploy GLONASS by 2008 and that Galileo is in its early stage of

deployment. GNSS users can look forward to better performance in terms of signal availability, faster ambiguity resolution and longer baselines as more signals become available. Thales is actively working to optimally integrate all of these signals in future products. However, it must be kept in mind that the GPS receivers being used today will continue to operate at the same high level of performance in the future, L1 and L2 P/Y will continue to be transmitted just as before. It should also be noted that the deployment of the new signals will take time, the estimated timelines are as follows: A full GLONASS constellation will probably not be in place until 2009; Galileo will probably not be fully deployed until 2011; L2C will not be fully deployed until the 2nd half of 2013; L5 will not be fully deployed until after 2014.

Do you see WAAS/EGNOS in combination with the paid-for Galileo commercial service as a replacement for regular DGPS services?
Hemisphere: No, the paid services will probably not survive since excellent accuracies will be available free of charge. OmniSTAR may be hurt somewhat by this (they may need to carve our new niches), but already WAAS solves many accuracy requirements using free signals. Leica Geosystems: Currently it is not clear how the commercial Galileo service will be structured. To provide customer value the commercial Galileo service will need to

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June 2006



Hemisphere Vector GPS Compass for Marine and Industrial applications.

The Volpe and Helios study both showed that we should not depend too much on GNSS as a sole means of navigation. In this respect, how do you see the development of three similar GNSS systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) and the discontinuation of the Northwest European Loran System (NELS) agreement?
Hemisphere: No problems, we believe GNSS can become a sole means of navigation. Leica Geosystems: Loran systems are pure navigation systems and were originally designed for marine applications. Satellite based navigation systems have the clear advantage that they do not require the local ground-based infrastructure. Furthermore, Loran system could never offer global coverage due to the lack of ground-based stations, and the delivered accuracy was often inadequate. With independent GNSS systems, it is possible to deliver independent solutions that offer true integrity monitoring for applications that demand a high level of redundancy. NavCom Technology: Modern transportation is truly global. GPS, GLONASS and Galileo address this need whereas the regional NELS did not. The three GNSS systems both complement and backup each other but their inherent weakness is their similar system.

deliver accuracy equivalent to current DGPS services without the initialisation times that are often required to provide decimetre solutions. If decimetre level positioning could be provided in less than a minute, rather than 10 minutes as needed today, then this truely represents a customer benefit and would justify a service fee. Although this service would be of little benefit for surveying, decimetre positioning is adequate for many GIS, hydrographic and agriculture applications. NavCom Technology: The cost of a Galileo commercial service will deter adoption by those users currently using free Beacon DGPS, WAAS or EGNOS. For users who need greater accuracy, commercial DGPS, RTK and GSBAS services are already very cost competitive. The Galileo commercial service will have to compete against these and potentially an augmentation service on Glonass. NovAtel: NovAtel has a number of land and marine customers using WAAS/EGNOS augmented receivers. WAAS does not currently have full redundancy, with pretty low elevation GEOs, so signal blockage can be a problem. New WAAS GEOs coming on line in 2007 will be more central over the US, so blockage will be much less of a problem. EGNOS, although successful last year in achieving operational readiness, is still sometimes operating intermittently - so full time commercial operations are not 100 percent reliable. This will improve as the EGNOS matures. Both WAAS and EGNOS when fully reliable almost provide full DGPS capability for users with good GEO visibility. If we now add another full constellation of Galileo satellites, signal reliability will significantly improve for dual-mode GPS/Galileo receiver users. But accuracy doesnt get much better suddenly. To do that the EGNOS and WAAS systems need to be upgraded to add Galileo signal monitoring and integrity verification. At that point, the GEO signals may well improve accuracy significantly for example, two fold better than the current 1-2m provided.

OmniSTAR: The primary objective of EGNOS is delivering integrity and not accuracy. The accuracy level will probably remain at the 1-2 meter range in order to achieve the integrity level of 99.999%. There will remain a market for higher accuracy DGPS services. Thales Navigation: No, at least not in the short term. WAAS and EGNOS will not replace ground based DGPS services because there will always be signal environments where the geo-stationary satellites transmitting the WAAS and EGNOS corrections will not be visible. The open question is whether the paid-for Galileo commercial service will deliver accuracies equivalent to what can be attained with DGPS today, there is good likelihood that it will.

Hemisphere Outback S2 GPS Guidance System for agriculture applications.


June 2006


NovAtel: The key will be to bring all three systems into internationally recognised operational standards so all users can be sure of the level of signal integrity which is available from each system and from the combined use of all systems. The idea has already been floated to add Galileo capability to WAAS and the initial Galileo reference receivers for the ground control system contain dual frequency GPS receivers. Work has already begun to formulate Galileo Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPS) within ICAO and tentative steps are being made towards a combined GPS/Galileo operational requirement. These initiatives will of course take time neither the Galileo nor the GLONASS constellations are yet fully deployed so standards will be developed over the next several years. Back-up Loran systems will likely be required for some time to come. OmniSTAR: As NELS had insufficient user interest its discontinuation came as no surprise to us. If the need for independent means of navigation is strong we, the private sector, will fulfil these requirements. Thales Navigation: All navigation systems are to some degree susceptible to errors; it is for this reason that navigators never rely on just one system. A ship may use GNSS as the primary navigation but will typically also have INS, radar and if all else fails visual navigation using sextants, a compass and charts can be used. It is true that scenarios can be envisioned in which GNSS can fail but the probability of this happening is extremely
Z-Max.Net includes standard VRS, FKP and NTRIP network communication (Thales Navigation).

low, especially with the emergence of three independent systems; GPS, GLONASS and Galileo. An external factor that could affect all three systems concurrently would be an extreme magnetic storm caused by solar flares. However, in its 30 years of operation there has been no major effect from solar flares on GPS navigation. It should also be noted that such events are usually predicted considerably ahead of time. Finally it must be understood that ProMark3 builds on the tradition of the ProMark2 from Thales the integrity and reliability of GNSS Navigation. is substantially higher than LORAN. As a system, LORAN is susceptible to a numsatellite technology. ber of external factors such as electrical disturTo improve positioning reliability in these envibances like lightning and even topography. ronments, the stable measurements from an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) are corrected There are still circumstances in which for drift and combined with the GPS solution GNSS does not work properly. Do you and/or the raw phase and pseudorange GPS see developments in the nearby future observations to produce a tightly-coupled that will counter current GNSS black-out solution. When satellite signal outages occur, spots such as indoor, tunnels and the an integrated GPS/INS system will use the raw like? IMU data to compute a solution through the outage. These complementary technologies Hemisphere: Improvements in signal structure create a system with accurate position, velociand the addition of new satellites and signals ty, and attitude output that provides continuwill help here, but there will always be situaous positioning in challenging GPS environtions where reception problems can occur. ments. NovAtels Synchronized Position Attitude Navigation (SPANTM) technology proLeica Geosystems: GNSS alone cannot solve vides these features by combining NovAtel all positioning tasks. Today total stations are GPS receivers with selected inertial measureused together with GNSS to provide a comment units. plete positioning solution for surveyors. Many research projects around the world are invesOmniSTAR: We are confident that developtigating sensor combinations to provide cmments with relative inexpensive MEMS will positioning everywhere. One approach is to continue and will solve outages up to 1 integrate GNSS with inertial sensors, others minute at the sub meter level. Longer and include the integration of laser distance meters more accurate INS will remain the field of the and CCD-cameras. Solutions are available for professional users. niche markets, however, the cost and size/weight of these systems make their wideThales Navigation: GNSS has delivered to the spread use for high accuracy applications limitworld a global navigation system, the covered. The breakthrough for high-accuracy wideage of which being far greater than any other spread use is yet to be discovered! navigation system ever deployed. For lower accuracy consumer applications technologies NavCom Technology: Augmentation of GNSS such as A-GPS and dead-reckoning are able to via additional sensors and services will literally provide positioning in GNSS black-out spots. drive the future. Having a global ground based For high accuracy underground positioning alternative to GNSS is desirable but will applications such as tunnel surveying optical require international cooperation and stansurveying technology will continue to be used. dards to leverage ground based wireless More information on: infrastructure as an alternative to GNSS.

NovAtel: Short outages are common in many real world applications especially throughout the urban canyons found in the downtown area of larger cities as well as in forested areas. Working in these conditions results in reduced productivity when relying solely on

EGNOS: Volpe: Helios: energy_transport/galileo/documents/technical_en.htm NELS agreement:

June 2006



First Nationwide High-density GPS

Geographic Expansion Possible
In October 2005 LNR Globalcom presented its nationwide GPS RTK network under the name GlobalNET 2005. This article describes the origin and history of the network, the technique used for the network calculations and the advantages for the users of the network. By Marnix van der Wolk
station, LNR Globalcom developed a so-called GSM box, see Figure 1. The GlobalGSM program made it possible to authorize GSM (cell phone) numbers contained on the SIM cards in the modems. Since the user was able to place his own SIM card in the station, cost saving was achieved. In this manner, the user was able to call under the auspices of his companys telephone subscription and utilize the lowest available rate. Since the RTK corrections are sent directly from the receivers, an initialization time of less than 10 seconds can be guaranteed. Additionally, a high degree of reliability is also achieved. However, this solution is only applicable for users located close to the reference station. In order to provide RTK corrections to users, located further away from the reference station, with at least this same high degree of accuracy, GlobalNET has been expanded to include 41 reference stations and uses a network solution. With the help of SpiderNET software from Leica Geosystems, all the stations are connected to one another to offer a nationwide network solution to the users.

Figure 1, the GSM box.

Since the implementation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) in the early 1990s, land surveying with centimeter-level accuracy has been possible, using the post-processing technique. In 1998 a new technique, GPS RTK (Real Time Kinematic) became operational, making real-time centimeter accuracy at the GPS receiver in the field the new reality. In keeping with the developments in the GPS technique, LNR Globalcom developed various software programs between the years 1994 and 1996. There is GlobalREF software to direct the reference stations, and GlobalCALL software for the automatic hourly download of the data from the reference stations. GlobalBASE is the database program in the server and the Globalcom program allows the user to download the RINEX data from the reference stations into his own office computer. The LNR Globalcom system and the Active GPS Reference System for research and certification purposes (AGRS) were both introduced in June 1996. As of that time the first 5 GPS reference stations in LNR Globalcoms network were operational.

In 1998 a new GPS technique was introduced: Real Time Kinematic GPS (RTK). Using GPS RTK the user in the field is able to achieve centimeter accuracy. Post processing was steadily being replaced by RTK GPS. To facilitate this trend, starting in 1998, the GlobalNET reference stations began sending corrections out via radio connections, and six months later also via GSM connections. The major advantage of GSM connections over radio connections is the greater reach. Alongside this inevitable technical development, the number of GlobalNET reference stations steadily increased. This growth was always project-related. At the start of 2005 sixteen GlobalNET reference stations existed in the western part of the Netherlands. These reference stations sent local RTK corrections via radio and GSM connections, and the RINEX data was continuously being saved. The corrections were being sent via the receiver in independent RTCM format, thus all receiver types were being supported.

The 41 reference stations are not more than 50 kilometers apart. The western part of Holland still contains a higher concentration of reference stations, due to the fact that the highest concentration of users is (still) within this area. In order to achieve complete coverage also along the border areas, a few reference stations from the Belgian FLEPOS network and the German SAPOS network are also incorporated within GlobalNET. The heart of GlobalNET can be found in Rijswijk, the Netherlands, where the main servers are located. These servers are in continuous contact with the reference stations. All the raw data is available in a split second via ADSL lines. The raw observations are saved as RINEX data and are also used for sending the RTK corrections to the user in the field. Alongside corrections for RTK receivers (centimeter accuracy), dGPS corrections are also offered for users with GIS receivers (sub meter accuracy) and for shipping vessel navigation purposes. The quality of the data from the reference stations is also being continuously monitored. In this manner, each station is being verified for the completeness of the data, the degree of

GlobalGSM Program
To allow several users simultaneous access to the corrections from the same reference


June 2006


RTK Network in the Netherlands

multi-path, the signal/static ratio and the number of cycle slips. Thus, the quality of the data used can be continuously controlled. cell can have a permanent shape or can be automatically determined by the network.

Six Variations Three Clusters

The total of the 41 reference stations will hereafter be referred to as the network. The network is divided into three clusters, a cluster being a sub-network within the full network of reference stations. Generally speaking, GlobalNET is divided into one cluster for the northern part of the country and one cluster for the southern part of the country. For the most part, these two clusters overlap one another. As a back-up for these two clusters, a nationwide cluster has been established containing a selection of the reference stations approximately seventy kilometers apart. The ambiguities to the available satellites are determined within each cluster by the Spider software, using the LAMBDA method which was originally developed by the Technical University of Delft. This method is used for accurate positioning, calculating the total amount of wave lengths between the GPS receiver and the satellite. The total number of wave lengths is determined by means of a smallest quadrants estimation. This method appears to be quite accurate since additional mistakes are minimalized. Consequently, a collective ambiguity level for a particular cluster can be calculated. Each cluster can be subsequently divided into an unlimited number of cells. The RTK corrections are sent via these cells to the user in the field. A The available RTK corrections are available as six variations: Fixed reference station; Closest reference station; Fixed cell (using I-Max); Fixed cell (using Max); Automatic cell (using I-Max); Automatic cell (using Max).

Figure 3, automatic cell.

Fixed reference station This solution can be more or less compared to ones own reference station. This solution is appropriate for a client wanting to continuously use the same reference station. Closest reference station With this variation the user does not need to select the reference station from which to receive the corrections. As soon as the user in the field logs on into the GlobalNET server, the closest reference station, (based on the users position) will automatically be determined. The corrections from this closest reference station will be sent to the user. Fixed cell Together with the user, a specific cell of reference stations is predetermined. When logging in the user can select either the I-Max solution or the Max solution. Within the cell,, see Figure 2, one of the reference stations is designated as the master; normally this is the most centrally located station. For rovers, which are not yet equipped for the Max solution, the I-Max solution has been developed. In addition, the data can later be related back to the reference stations; thus, an extra quality check based on the raw data is always possible. This product is most appropriate for users with a permanently-defined work area. Automatic cell In terms of technique and network calculations, this variation, see Figure 3, is comparable to the fixed cell. The major difference is that the cell is not pre-determined. This variation is recommended for users whose work area frequently changes.

Standard In order to receive all the data every second, a new data format has been developed: RTCM version 3. RTCM is an internationally accepted standard for the exchange of GPS data, which is supported by all GPS receiver brands. This new RTCM v3 data format has been specially designed for the transmission of corrections from multiple reference stations. To allow as many users as possible access to the network at the lowest cost, the various corrections are sent over the Internet via Networked Transport of RTCM via Internet Protocol (NTRIP). This can be compared to Internet radio. The Internet connection to the user in the field is achieved via a GSM (cell) phone with a SIM card supplemented with a GPRS subscription. This technique ensures the mobile connection to the Internet, as long as the mobile (cell) telephone network is available in the area.

In the future the network will continually be updated to accommodate the latest available technologies, such as the implementation of extra satellite signals; for example L2C, L5 and the European system Galileo. The network can also be expanded geographically, to provide service to international customers as well.
Marnix van der Wolk ( is sales engineer with LNR Globalcom. More on this company via

Figure 2, fixed cell.

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June 2006



Galileo All About Ambition and Political Willingness

Interview with Peter Grognard, Director of Septentrio
Stations capable of receiving GPS, GLONASS and/or Galileo are steadily entering the market, and high above our heads more and more satellites are coming into orbit. All because highly accurate positioning data are essential, and because of the numerous possibilities of three satellite systems. Sceptics wonder if we need a third system, and if Galileo is worth the expenses. GeoInformatics had an interview on these and other topics with Peter Grognard, director of Septentrio, a young and successful Belgian company with a firm belief in Galileo. By Sonja de Bruijn
and no. Clearly there will be combined receivers capable of getting all types of signals, for both professional and private users. Especially this last type of user will not be aware of the fact that combined signals are entering his receiver. When looking at system level there seems to be integration to the extent that agreements have been reached especially with the US June 2004 on standards regarding interoperability and compatibility. Exception is the GPS military signal which falls under the responsibility of the US government, as well as the European Public Related Service (PRS) which is a European-only aspect of the Galileo program. We are working on the same kinds of agreements with Russia because these agreements obviously have an impact on trade and technical developments, says the director. Just to make clear: integration of the satellite systems themselves will not take place: these will transmit their own unique signals. How does Grognard feel about the involvement of China in Galileo? It is my belief that certain parts of Galileo should not be shared with any non-European country. Furthermore it is my opinion that a third party like China should only get involved if they can actually contribute to Galileo by means of opening up the market, cooperatively developing applications, or bringing in technological expertise. In its turn Galileo can make a robust contribution by covering local components that up till now are not covered in China.

Peter Grognard, Founder and Managing Director of Septentrio.

The attitude towards Galileo has changed drastically over the past five years. First there was scepticism, not only in the US but also in Europe. Galileo will never work, and Why do we need this system when there is GPS? were commonly heard phrases. Furthermore security was a concern: what would be the impact of a new system on military operations? But now that the first satellite is up and running and receivers are being built that can receive Galileo signals

Now that there will be three systems in 2010/11, the American system GPS, the Russian system Glonass and the European Galileo, integration is the first topic of discussion at the Septentrio office in Leuven, Belgium. Does Grognard think we are moving towards an integration of the systems? Yes

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June 2006



progressed there is more belief. Grognard: The fact is that more satellites are needed and GPS and Galileo can complement one another perfectly. This is not to say that there is no negative talk about Galileo anymore. One should not forget that GPS has existed for thirty years now, with the first plans appearing in 1960. The experts involved in this are still very influential. However the world is changing, and so are satellite systems.

Clearly GPS is quite important with respect to the new satellite system, but what are Grognards thoughts about the Russian equivalent? GLONASS is coming into the picture again since the Russian government has got plans to rebuild the system. Every year around Christmas three satellites are launched and there is more and more demand for receivers that can deal with combined signals. When we started Septentrio in the year 2000 we developed a combined GPS-GLONASS receiver with which we were able to receive signals of more than 20 satellites during the time these systems were connected, a phenomenal accuracy

that could never be achieved with just one system. For us this was a clear sign of what Galileo could bring in future. Grognard admits GPS is more important to him than GLONASS for technical and programmatic reasons. First of all GPS satellites have an extremely long life cycle, in contrary to the GLONASS satellites. Next to this the US expertise in electronics and in operating the system are reasons for me to regard GPS as a very robust system. However, Russia has a tremendous experience in space system and I am confident that with a little luck, Russia will make GLONASS fully operational again.

are not known yet, these will have to be lower than those of existing providers. Grognard is not really informed on this but does share the opinion that existing service providers offering commercial services should not be put aside. Besides having a good position in the market they also have the technical know-how so this will make it hard but moreover unwise to push them out of the market.

Negative Advice
Grognards reaction to the statement Galileo means a lot of expenses for an extra system that we dont really need is fierce. First let me say that at the end of the nineties several EU member states gave a negative advice regarding Galileo. This was due to bad information provision by their own industries, because of political reasons or due to ignorance. An example is Germany where the automobile industry stated it didnt need Galileo. Although this industry now realizes the importance of the new system, the bad tone had been set. This movement has created the feeling that Galileo is an expensive system that Europe does not really need.

Search & Rescue

What extras will Galileo offer in comparison to GPS? Information on the integrity of the signal will be delivered with the signal so a user knows he can rely on his position. Then there is Search & Rescue, which makes an accurate positioning of people in need possible. Instead of having to combine different signals with several receivers all this is now combined. So we are utilizing the strength of GPS and improving what needs to be better. Though prices for these extra Galileo services


June 2006


The PolaRx2e, versatile dual-frequency GNSS receiver developed by Septentrio.

Now lets have a closer look at the expenses. The total costs of Galileo are 4 billion. There are 450 billion European citizens at the moment. Projects started in 2002 and Galileo will be operational in 2010/11. This means 8-9 years of development and tests, which boils down to 1 per year per European citizen. To compare: a European citizen yearly has to pay roughly 100 euros on agriculture. If we want to be the most important economy in the world, we need to take action instead of sitting and waiting for the US and Japan to come up with new innovations. So it is not about costs but about ambition and political willingness. He continues: Concerning the costs of the combined receivers: prices may go up a bit, but a manufacturer needs to regularly update its hardware and software anyway. A combined receiver simply is a modernization that has to be done.

system is distributed in such a way that it is impossible to disturb all receivers simultaneously. Still Septentrio and other manufacturers are working on techniques to make receivers less sensitive. Especially in aviation (safety reasons) or in segments where GPS is used for the automation of certain processes this is crucial. Higher frequencies are hardly possible because of the insufficient power of the satellites and certain rules laid down in international agreements regarding the frequencies that are allowed. The solution lies in combining the systems that are transmitting signals at different frequencies and making the receivers less vulnerable, says Grognard.

Positive Dynamics
According to Grognard Galileo definitely has created a lot of positive momentum and attention. But we have to make a lot of effort to make use of satellite systems in an economical way like the US and Japan already do. Possibilities are only limited by peoples imagination. And there is a huge growth potential, especially in the automobile industry and the consumer market space. Currently the GPS market is worth

about $ 12 biljon which is relatively small. Grognard also mentions quality in agriculture and stricter worldwide regulations in shipping which will cause these markets to grow. Especially in shipping where mistakes occur quite easily which makes accurate determination of your position important. Grognard stresses the importance of a proper maintenance of the Galileo satellite system and a simple and transparent institutional framework, similar to the United States framework. Grognard: Possible bottlenecks can be too many regulations for use and user fees not agreed on by manufacturers in non-European countries that do apply to manufacturers in Europe. This is why a simple and transparent framework like I just mentioned is crucial.
Sonja de Bruijn ( is editorial manager of GeoInformatics. Visit to learn more about this Belgian company.

The advent of Galileo wont really make a difference in the vulnerability of each separate system. Grognard: Interference is a potential threat. The signals are weak and quite easy to jam on purpose. However the

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June 2006



Review Trimble R8 GNSS versus

GPS and Glonass combined receivers
The adage more is better is heard everywhere nowadays, replacing quality with quantity. In the past a land surveyor carefully surveyed a few points per day. Every point was checked, double-checked and then again, since errors made in the field had to be corrected by hand. With the advent of RTK GPS a multitude of points can be taken in only a short amount of time. However this quantity must go together with quality or a complete survey can be thrown away. Over the next decade or so, we will see the rise of yet another GNSS system that, on paper should add to the quality and speed of our measurements. But are more satellites really better? GeoInformatics tested two RTK systems with the possibility to receive both GLONASS and GPS satellites: the Trimble R8 GNSS (R8) and the Topcon HiPer Pro (HiPer). En passant we tried to find out whether more satellites can really improve survey quality and speed. By Huibert-Jan Lekkerkerk

Trimble R8 GNSS
The R8 was the first to arrive at the test site, kindly provided by GeoMETIUS, the Dutch Trimble representative. After a brief instruction, it was time for my own tests. The set had been taken care of by GeoMETIUS and as such was in working condition. Since they use it for demonstration purposes, I was kindly requested not to alter the preconfigured settings. Since these worked alright, I took these as a starting point for the review.

Topcon HiPer Pro

The HiPer Pro was the second to arrive. As before, the representative from Topcon Europe Positioning gave a brief instruction. According to Topcon, the HiPer Pro lent to us came directly off the shelf. However, base, rover and survey controller were pre-configured in such a way that they were ready to go. This time I was not asked not to change any settings but still decided to leave them as they were.

Complete Trimble R8 GNSS set as reviewed.

RTK mode
In this article I will review both systems by comparing them to each other in a real world situation. I tested the systems in relative RTK mode whereby I measured all rover positions from an estimated base position. Both sets consisted of: Rover and base station; Survey controller; Tripod and mounting bracket for base; Survey rod and mounting bracket for survey controller; Battery loader; Various cables and software.

Receiver particulars as specified by manufacturer.


June 2006


Topcon HiPer Pro

As mentioned, both sets were pre-configured, and were instantly ready for operation. Since I used my own desktop computer for processing, I still needed to install the processing and data transfer software. Both survey controllers operate under the mobile Windows operating system and need Microsoft ActiveSync synchronisation software for data transfer. The Topcon FC-100 was easy to hook up and data could be transferred without a glitch. With the Trimble TSC2 I had slightly more difficulty. This was however quickly resolved by a phone call to the support department of GeoMETIUS. The CD-Rom that was delivered with the set was not part of a regular delivery, but put together for the purpose and it seemed that it contained an incorrect software version in this case. After downloading and installing the correct version from the Microsoft website, the problem was solved.

Rover and Base Set-up

With the software and hardware up and running it was time to unpack the cases and install the base and rover stations. Installing the stations is easy enough without the need to connect any cables. Both sets use Bluetooth communication between the receiver and the survey controller. Now let us have a look at the receivers. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder and should not be important with utilitarian products like this, but personally I think the R8 looks rather pretty when compared to the HiPer. The neat design however comes at a price since the transmit antenna and connection ports of the R8 are placed at the bottom of the receiver. Due to this awkward location, an extension pole is needed when mounting the set onto the tripod bracket. The HiPer looks like a standard receiver with an antenna put on top of it, but has the advantage of having the transmit antenna on top of the GPS antenna and all the connection ports on the front side. The tested receiver did not have any covers for the ports, which could possibly result in damage to the ports from dust and rain when used for longer periods of time. The ports on the R8 all have plugs to cover the ports. The two R8 receivers were identical and rover

Complete Topcon HiPer Pro set as reviewed.

and base could be swapped without a problem. With the HiPer set that I reviewed there was a separate base and rover receiver.

To ensure I would not run out of power during my survey I wanted to start off with a fresh set of batteries. With the R8 this simply meant opening the battery cover and replacing the battery with a fresh one. The HiPer does not have this option and needs to be connected to the power supply. On paper the R8 has the advantage, but while the HiPer can survey for a full day on

a single battery charge, the R8 needs fresh batteries halfway through the day. Both sets can however be powered by an external power source, which, according to GeoMETIUS, can, in case of the R8, provide power for up to 12 hours in transmitting mode. However this battery was not included in the test set.

Once the base and rover were set up, it was time to prepare the survey. Since I was going to imitate a real survey, I had the base set up over a mocked-up benchmark. Both tri-

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June 2006



the height from a number of reference points at different (height) locations on the antenna, making it more flexible in the field, but at the same time also introducing an additional potential error source.

Starting the Rover

With the base started, I had to switch the controller from the base to the rover. Switching is done manually on the controller and somehow it seems that this should be easier. It seems easier to tell the system once which receiver is used as base and which as rover and have the software do the rest. But apart from this wish the switching was easy enough until the Bluetooth connection on the Topcon controller froze up. A complete reset of the controller and re-establishing the Bluetooth connection to both base and rover was necessary before everything was back to normal. Starting a survey is easy enough on both sets as it was just a matter of selecting the type of survey. I tested two RTK modes: the single point mode and continuous mode. Both sets work similarly for the single point mode; simply enter the point code and start measuring. The continuous mode survey is different; the HiPer can collect data points every x meters or every y seconds, while the R8 can combine both.

Since it was technical weather and my wife was already brooding on jobs for me to do, I found it absolutely necessary to perform a small-scale survey of my backyard. The reason for using my own backyard? It is close by and has all kinds of real world problems where additional satellites are needed, since a house, a garden shed, trees and hedges are blocking the receivers view of the sky. With both rover and base set up and started I went on to perform the survey. After each measured point the survey controller automatically increases the point number so all the user has to do is centre the antenna and start a measurement. One thing I noticed, not having used a land survey GPS set for a couple of years, was the difference in operation between these sets and the older backpack style survey sets I used to work with. After a while I found out that the weight of the antenna on top of the relatively long pole made the entire survey system topheavy and relatively hard to hold steady during measurement. This used to be easier with only an antenna on the end of the pole and the receiver stored in the backpack. But then again, a backpack has its own disadvantages such as not that much freedom to move around in tight places and the inability to directly view the receiver status.

R8 base station and survey controller TSC2.

pod brackets could be easily levelled and centred over the benchmark. The R8 uses a laser pointer for centring while the HiPer but an optical plumb. Both worked perfect and have their own disadvantages. The laser pointer is hard to read in bright sunlight and eventually will run out of power while the optical plumb is hard to read with the receiver at a high mounting position.

Starting the Base

After centring the base antenna, I needed to enter both the benchmark coordinates and antenna height into the base. Both sets use the survey controller for entering data into either base or rover. The survey controller communicates with the base using Bluetooth and no cable switching is required. Since I did not

have an actual benchmark, I decided to use the position as derived from the GPS coordinates of the base. Both receivers have the choice to either take a single base position or average a number of readings to a single position. Personally I prefer the latter, but to be honest, this is a situation that a surveyor should always try to avoid. During a normal survey I would either have the benchmark coordinates from the national survey or would use another RTK network for obtaining my base position. As with a regular survey, I measured the antenna height using a tape measure. The HiPer only has two reference points marked at the same height at either side of the receiver from which either the direct height or slant range can be measured. The R8 has the option to measure


June 2006


Additional Satellites
During the survey some points had to be measured that were partially shielded. Since the survey with the R8 took place on another day and time as the HiPer survey, different satellites were available. With the R8 survey only 7 GPS and 2 Glonass satellites were available, while during the HiPer survey there were 8 GPS and 6 Glonass satellites. When measuring near tops of hedges and under sparsely leaved trees the additional satellites seemed to make the difference. With few(er) satellites the receiver would regularly complain about high DOP values and stop measuring in these situations. When measuring close to the house however, no matter how many satellites were visible, neither receiver could get a good fix. This is quite normal since the house shielded almost half of the horizon. Based on these few tests one could conclude that having additional satellites is no help under circumstances where a large part of the horizon is shielded. This however is nothing new to the well-experienced surveyor, since such a large blocking of the horizon causes a degradation of the strength of the satellite constellation. It is however an advantage in those situations where there are relatively few satellites and exactly that part of the horizon is shielded where a crucial satellite is located. In these cases additional satellites might be just outside the blocked location and improve the strength of the constellation, thereby reducing measurement time and therefore costs.

User Interface - Receiver

So far both sets have proven to be quite similar to each other. They may look different, but operate alike and have similar performance. However, as said before, these are utilitarian products and do not have to look pretty. They should however be easy to operate, with an easy user interface and readily readable display. At this point the sets start to differ a little. Lets start with the receivers. Both do not have a display, which I personally find a shame considering the price tag for receivers at this price level. However, both manufacturers do give the option to read the number of satellites but choose a different solution. The HiPer shows the number of satellites received by blinking the status LED green for every GPS satellite received and orange for every Glonass satellite. Furthermore the HiPer shows the number of

HiPer Pro base station and survey controller FC-100.

rover satellites on the survey controller. The R8 on the other hand shows both the number of base and rover satellites (and power level) on the survey controller but does not indicate the exact number of satellites on the receiver.

User Interface Survey Controller

The Topcon FC-100 survey controller, which was delivered with the set, does not have a keyboard so all input has to be done using the touch screen and stylus. With the Trimble TSC2 all input can be done using a keyboard as well as via the touch screen. However Topcon also supplies the FC-2000, which has a full keyboard and should be relative-

HiPer Pro connection ports and status LEDS.

ly similar to the TSC2. The readability of the colour touch screen is reasonable as far as LCD screens go in bright sunlight. With polarizing sunglasses both screens become unreadable. Luckily both units communicate audibly as well. The TSC2 is the easiest to understand in this respect with spoken instructions. For instance, a lady will tell you that the PDOP is high and that you will have to wait until it gets better. Under the same condition the FC-100 just beeps in different tones (which is an option on the TSC2 as well). Although different, both have the same effect and allow the surveyor to concentrate on other issues like holding the survey pole steady and level.

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R8 connection ports.

The user interface for the TSC2 is graphically more advanced than that of the FC-100, but the operation is similar. For the type of survey I performed both controllers roughly have the same options. The TSC2 felt more robust than the FC-100, but one needs to remember that both controllers are of a different class. For a true comparison I would have had to compare the TSC2 to the FC2000 which are quit similar, but the latter was not included with the test set.

can be exported to a card on the survey controller. The method used for exporting to other software packages differs between the two. The Topcon software allows direct export towards a number of specific formats while the Trimble uses XML as an intermediary format to export to a number of different software packages in this way allowing the user to specify custom export formats.

nates to the true coordinates. As a true user I did not read the manual and overlooked the recomputed option that had to be selected after changing the base coordinates. But once that was solved it worked like a charm. Both packages show the survey both graphically and per point. After processing is done, the data can be easily exported from both packages. In contrast with the survey controller, the Trimble software has more export options than the Topcon software. Just for the fun of it, I exported the dataset from the Topcon software to a shape file and then used Global Mapper software to rectify an aerial photograph of my back yard using the GPS survey. Global Mapper, which is a program for easy viewing of a multitude of (geo) graphical formats, has the option to read both shape and (geo-referenced) images and rectify the latter based on a number of other data sets. The result? Not bad for an amateur on a Saturday afternoon, especially when considering the angle at which the photo was taken.

Both sets performed as expected during the tests although there are some differences between the two. Differences are minimal and subjective at the least. The table below lists some of the more important differences found between the two sets.

Both manufacturers delivered the sets with accompanying processing software: Trimble Geomatics Office and Topcon Link. One of the things to do was to change the base coordi-

Data Transfer
After the survey it was time to transfer the data from the survey controller to the computer. With both units the data can either be directly transferred from the job file to the processing software on the computer or it

To answer the question: is more better? The answer is yes, but every user has to decide for himself whether the additional satellites are worth the extra money. When measuring in areas with relatively small obstacles it can be a benefit and greatly speed up the survey. But dont expect miracles, a partially blocked horizon means that no matter how many satellites are available, the result will always be of low quality.
Huibert-Jan Lekkerkerk ( is a freelance writer and trainer in the field of positioning and hydrography. For more information about the receivers, visit or For more information on Global Mapper, visit

Processed HiPer Pro points in Topcon Link software.

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June 2006



Improving Awareness of Assets That Require Attention

The Facility Maintenance Crystal Ball
Todays fast-paced world requires corporations to respond quickly to customer needs while providing reliable service of a given commodity. While this may seem like an impossible task to accomplish, many service-oriented organizations-including utilities and municipalities, among others - are developing strategies specifically targeted to address these needs. By J. Peter Gomez
possible. Another primary business driver of this approach is the ability to proactively respond to service reliability issues before they result in an interruption of service for a client. As such, many solution providers have developed tools that leverage information contained on assets from a variety of legacy data sources, and theyve integrated that information with real-time and near-realtime data as appropriate. It is this smart technology that is taking the asset tracking and monitoring activities to a whole new level.

Asset Optimization Tools

Data latency has become a critical component when it comes to proactively responding to a given situation. However, in order to meet the high reliability service level demands, service companies must have a firm handle on the status of their critical assets. Virtually all of the data tools currently on the market use wireless technology as a means of transmitting data back to a central repository where system planners can monitor activity and recommend changes in operationusually within minutes of receipt. This has become especially beneficial for the monitoring of remote siteswhereas in the past, time-consuming manual tracking was the only viable option. Now, the ability to replace assets that are nearing the end of their useful life can be foreseen and budgeted accordingly. It is through this approach that reliable service and timely customer response are being addressed and critical operating data are being captured. With the incorporation of this technology, I often wonder what my now longsince retired electric lineman friendwho so succinctly compared the reactive approach of responding to a system outage to the WhackA-Mole novelty gamewould have to say. I like to think he would say something to the effect of, Now thats what I call building a bigger hammer! Somehow that analogy seems to sum it up perfectly.
J. Peter Gomez ( is a GITA Past-President and Board Member

Whack-A-Mole Game
More than 20 years ago, a veteran electric lineman once told me that responding to a system outage was often like playing the novelty Whack-A-Mole game, as seen at many local amusement parks. If only I had a bigger hammer, I could win every time! a game patron was likely to say. To meet todays high efficiency and high reliability consumer needs, such a hammer is being developed in the form of sophisticated analytical tools that enable predictive analysis to be performed at a variety of levels on a multitude of devices.

related to asset lifecycle investment and work planning decisions. It should also be noted that EAM is not so much about doing the work better but rather becoming better at deciding what kind of work to do, and where and when to do it. In general, EAM systems are implemented as part of a work management system with the ability to record inspection and operational histories to establish specific criteriawhich, when met or exceeded, can automatically trigger the creation of work orders against that particular type of asset.

Sweat the Assets Enterprise Asset Management Model

The power of integrated data systems has proven to be a key enabler in supporting these tools and the foundation of true enterprise asset management programs. Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), is defined as a methodology to optimize and apply strategies In order to effectively manage assets, it is critical to determine performance metrics so that these values can be used as a benchmark for tracking improvement and work activity on a given asset. This ability allows an organization to sweat the assets and ensure they are being used as effectively and efficiently as

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June 2006



The Human Element Making Change Happen

Whether a natural disaster such as the Tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina, an epidemic such as SARS, Foot and Mouth or Bird Flu, or for the protection of citizens in the wake of New York, Madrid and London, the importance of smooth, seamless, real time collaboration between key agencies is literally a matter of life or death.

The need to overcome organizational and cultural challenges was consistently outlined at the Defense Geospatial Intelligence Event in London earlier this year, and is a common message across industry. It is great that we have the technology and the standards it is, however, the human element that is the current barrier to effective collaboration. Around the globe, within countries, we have multiple departments, with varied funding, and diverse goals and objectives, when in non-crisis scenarios. How can these disparate agencies be brought together to operate as one, in an instant, when required? One step is legislation. Significant legislative measures have been undertaken to enable this, such as the establishment of the department of homeland security in the US, and the Civil Contingencies Act in the UK. Such a challenge of integration and co-operation is not unique to the geospatial domain. We should look beyond our geospatial world, and learn from the experts in Change Management, which is what this really amounts to. As market dynamics change and competition becomes more aggressive, previously successful companies need to facilitate change, and often very significant change, not only to main profitability but to survive. A powerful example can be found in the turnaround of IBM. When Lou Gerstner joined in 1993 reported a record net loss of $8.1 billion, upon his departure reported a net income of $7.7 billion. IBM had been written off as all but dead by well respective publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the Economist. Critical to ensuring the survival of IBM was new leadership; interestingly a leader was not being sought specifically from

the IT domain, but a leader with the characteristics to stimulate and instigate change. This was spelt out in the recruitment directive: Fiona Hopkinson ( works for Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions and is based in the UK.

It is all about listening, understanding, communicating and acting.

What is critically important is the person must be a proven, effective, leader one who is skilled at generating and managing change. We can learn from the approach of this highly respected champion of change. Gerstner made it a top priority to articulate his modus operand, and to get inside both the business, the customer and their competitors to understand first hand the challenges faced and the hurdles to be overcome. Gerstner and his executives always had their ears open to any level within the organization and actively sought input. In doing so Gerstner knew his challenge intimately and also secured the support of the soldiers of the change the people of the company. Consequently employee targets were transformed to further stimulate the change, and reflect the goals of the overall business. Thus, the principals to overcome organizational and cultural challenges are pretty clear: Effective communication; Full and active executive support; Employee involvement; Organizational planning and analysis and widespread perceived need for the change.

It is all about listening, understanding, communicating and acting. The legislation, and cross agency associations, are a powerful first step in making this happen. It is however, imperative that there is an end-to-end understanding and review, of the softer dynamics and black and white objectives of each organization, to enable synergy in end goals. It is all too easy to get caught up on the top-level goals without understanding the nuts and bolts of the business; the cogs need to be in place, and then realigned to drive the organization and integration forward. and fast.

Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround by Louis V. Gerstner Jr. (to be found on Change, Change, Change: Change Management Lessons From the Field

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June 2006



International Scientific Symposium on

Not Just a Scientific Topic Anymore
Scientists met other scientists, listened to each others presentations and exchanged knowledge on remote sensing and satellite images. Setting: sunny Enschede, the Netherlands, at the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), May 8-11. By Sonja de Bruijn
The International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS, is a non-governmental organisation aimed at enhancing international cooperation between worldwide organisations with interests in photogrammetry, remote sensing and spatial information sciences. It consists of nearly 100 national and 10 regional societies and organisations and its scientific and technical programs are organised by eight Technical Commissions. Each Commission holds its own mid-term symposium within its country once every four years. Commission VII concentrates on Thematic Processing, Modelling and Analyses of Remotely Sensed Data. This Commission, led by President John van Genderen, is based in the Netherlands and from May 811 they organised their symposium called Remote Sensing: From Pixels to Processes at ITC, the Netherlands. In the Olympic years all Commissions come together, with Beijing being the location of this congress in 2008, one month before the Games get started. working group that deals with Innovative methods for less developed countries. He explains why he likes this project so much: These people often dont have all the fantastic devices we have but show a lot of creativity in solving problems in their country by using remote sensing data. The nice thing is that you see a transfer from technology and knowledge between the western world and these less developed countries. We learn from them, which accelerates solutions.

Getting to know each other, with John van Genderen, President of the ISPRS Technical Commission VII, in the middle.

Pre-symposium Events
For some of the 500 attendees, mostly scientists from all over the world, the mid-term symposium on Remote Sensing: From Pixels to Processes meant meeting each other again, and refreshing memories from the past when being a student at ITC. Although the meeting officially started May 8 there were pre-symposium events on May 6, and a visit to the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, the Netherlands, one day later, could be found on the program list as well. Naturally the technical sessions on topics like Advanced Classification Techniques, Information Extraction from Hyperspectral data and OpenDragon: Free GeoInformatics Software for Education in Developing Countries were dominant during the official four symposium days. According to John van Genderen, President of the ISPRS Technical Commission (TC) 7 (see information on ISPRS elsewhere in this article), calibration and vali-

dation of data, as well as data fusion and data mining, are hot topics. He tells about the project undertaken by one of the several working groups of TC VII on data fusion. One type of data is not sufficient to solve a problem. Besides doing optical observations you can do radar or thermal measurements in order to observe the earth. This means you have to fuse optical, radar, thermal but also hyperspectral, statistical or perhaps even historical data of high quality. Another topic is data mining. Van Genderen: It means being able to extract a specific type of information from data that is stored in some place and possibly thirty years old. Software is currently being developed that is capable of extracting certain values of certain areas over time. This enables a precise comparison of data from the past and the present. Van Genderen is quite enthusiastic about one

Prices of satellite images are going down, but especially high-resolution images can still be quite expensive. Van Genderen however thinks cost is not a real issue. It is all about the relation between overall costs and the costs of the images needed. If you can retrieve a lot of information from these data, like the localization of new energy resources, costs are not really the issue anymore. He continues: When looking at an infrastructural project the costs might be neglectable, however for a municipality that needs high-resolution images on a monthly basis, for example to detect changes in infrastructure or vegetation, it


June 2006


Remote Sensing in the Netherlands

might still be too expensive. An IKONOS stereopair image of lets say 11 km square size will cost $ 12,000 to $ 15,000, and then theres additional costs for things like the software needed to work with these data. In Europe a satellite image will cost you about 100. Now that ORBIMAGE (Quickbird) has taken over Space Imaging (IKONOS) to form GeoEye and thus covering the larger part of the market, there is not that much competition at the moment. But I guess new players will enter the market soon and this might bring the price further down. ITC, the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (, is located in Enschede, the Netherlands. The scientific staff consists of around 130 professionals from more than 30 countries. Essential at ITC are international knowledge exchange, as well as the focus on mid-career professionals who can potentially influence decision-making processes within their organisations. The Institute offers two degree programmes, a Master of Science (MSc) and a Master degree programme in Geo-information Science and Earth Observation. Diploma and certificate programmes are also offered. The degree programmes cover the following courses: Applied Earth Sciences; Geoinformatics; Geo-information Management; Land Administration; Natural Resources Management; Urban Planning and Management; Water Resources and Environmental Management. Besides these international educational programmes ITC provides research and project services with respect to geo-information science and earth observation using remote sensing and GIS. up in management or politics, and these people are aware of the possibilities of remote sensing. However it is really essential that all decision makers are aware of these possibilities, because unfortunately this is not the case. But also municipality workers need to know how to work with things like GPS. They never learnt how to do this at school. Information on these techniques should be brought into the open; it is not just a scientific topic anymore.
Sonja de Bruijn ( is editorial manager of GeoInformatics.

Technical Education
So costs are not the bottleneck, but what is? Education, is Van Genderens firm answer. Though working here at ITC I have to admit that the focus has been too much on technical education. People studying at ITC going back to their own country usually become active on a technical level. Of course some of them end

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June 2006



Part 3: Error Sources

Practical Satellite Navigation
In the previous articles the position determination of GPS was discussed. The GPS position, based on the C/A code, nowadays has a precision of approximately 5 20 meters. With the P code, more precise results can be achieved (1 - 5 meters). The difference in precision between the C/A and P code is largely due to the length of the code and the broadcasting of the P-code on two frequencies. There are however a number of error sources that influence the precision of the GPS position and which can degrade the position with meters. This article will give a brief overview of a number of large error sources that can influence the position determination.

By Huibert-Jan Lekkerkerk

Figure 1: effect of satellite elevation on the path travelled.

Gravity Field
Satellites are equipped with very accurate atomic clocks, as was discussed in the previous article. Nonetheless there are still small errors at work mainly due to variations in the gravity field of the earth. As a result of relativity related errors, the satellite clock can show small discrepancies when compared to the mother clocks on earth. Furthermore small changes in the gravitational field of the earth will cause small changes in the satellite orbits. It was already shown that ground stations are constantly tracking the satellites. These control stations determine the corrections for both orbit and clock and transmit these to the satellites once a week. This implies that it is possible to calculate satellite positions based on an almanac which is almost a week old and possibly incorrect. For GPS applications where accuracy is of utmost importance, the correct almanac is therefore applied afterwards to the raw satellite measurements (post-processing).

Selective Availability
Shortly after the GPS system was completed tests showed that the system functioned better than expected. Instead of the predicted precision of 50 100 meters for the civil signal (C/A code Standard Positioning Service) the results were in the order of 10 20 meters. Although these results were very positive in a scientific sense, the American government felt these results were a threat. The main reason for this was that all users could calculate positions with a precision that was almost equal to that of the military signal (P-code Precise Positioning Service). It was thus decided in 1989 to introduce errors in the C/A coded signals, bringing the precision artificially back to 50 100 meters. This signal degradation was called Selective Availability (SA) and has been in use for over a decade, with the exception of the first Gulf war in 1991 when the American army did not have enough military GPS receivers for their

own troops. On the first of May 2000, president Clinton declared that, as a result of the broad use of GPS and DGPS, there was no further need to continue SA and it was switched off. This switch-off was however conditional with the reservation that it could be put back on in times of emergency. Until today SA has been switched off, even after the events of September 11.

The earth atmosphere consists of a number of layers, the troposphere being the first layer (up to a height of approximately 13 kilometres) where the weather is formed. Since the GPS satellites are orbiting high above the earth, their signals need to cross the atmosphere before reaching our receiver. Factors like humidity influence the speed of light, and as such delay the GPS signals resulting in travel time errors in the order of tens of meters.


April/May 2006


GPS receivers do employ an atmospheric model to correct for these delays. Local weather variations cannot be modelled however and will result in errors of meters in the pseudorange measurement. The amount of delay depends on the time it takes the signal to travel through the atmosphere, which in turn depends on the satellite elevation above the horizon, see Figure 1. Satellites directly above the horizon will cause the smallest error, and as a rule of thumb, keep the elevation of the satellites used above 10 to 15 in order to reduce the potential error as much as possible. Another method by which tropospheric error can be reduced is the use of a multi-frequency receiver. It has been demonstrated that the amount of delay depends on the frequency of the radio signal. If we measure the travel time for both the L1 and the L2 frequency, we can estimate the tropospheric error to some degree. Most dual frequency receivers use the P-code for correcting the atmospheric error. Since this code is transmitted on both frequencies (L1 / L2) but has an unknown starting point, it cannot be used for determination of the absolute travel time. We can however take differential measurements since the code starts at the same point in time for both frequencies.

Figure 2: number of (predicted) sun spots for the current solar cycle. (source: )

The ionosphere is the layer in the atmosphere reaching from 50 to 500 kilometres. The sun ionises the air in this layer, creating a charged particle layer. A striking example of this ionisation is the polar light. The ionised particles delay the GPS signal, creating errors of up to 30 meters in the daylight or 6 meters at night. Large sources of ionisation are the so-called sunspots and related magnetic storms. These sunspots have an 11-year cycle with the next peak occurring in 2011 2012, see Figure 2.

At the moment we are approximately at the minimum of the solar cycle. This effect will also occur around the year in locations with a large amount of exposition to the sun (equator, around noon). With a small amount of ionisation the problem will be measurement errors. When there is a lot of activity, the GPS signal can be influenced in such a way that reception is impossible, see Figure 3. When using DPGS systems the effective range can, as a result of the solar activity, be reduced with a factor 2 to 4. Ionospheric errors as a result of sunspots cannot be predicted, but the regular ionisation of the atmosphere can be predicted using an ionospheric model. A multi-frequency receiver can resolve these errors in the same manner as with the tropospheric error.

Just as light is reflected by a shiny surface, radio signals can be reflected by things like the water surface, tanks filled with oil and water, but also by cars and ships or bridges. The reflected signals will interfere with the signals that are received via a direct path, see Figure 4. The receiver may start using the reflected signal, which has a longer travel time, instead of the direct signal. As a result the position will be calculated incorrectly, with the position shifting in the direction of the multipath source. Since multipath is hard to correct for, it is better to prevent it altogether. As the first rule in preventing multipath is to keep the antenna as far away as possible from reflectors. Enlarging the elevation mask of the receiver can be of some help as can changing the height of the antenna. A multipath error will last a couple of minutes and will disappear as soon as the signal is no longer reflected towards the antenna. Nowadays most professional GPS antennas have a built-in ground plate or choke ring, see Figure 6, which prevents the reception of reflected signals from under the antenna horizon.

User Errors
The main sources of error in GPS measurements are user errors or as they are usually called, blunders. As a rule, blunders can be prevented by a consequent measurement strategy using as many control options as practically possible. Common blunders are: Measuring too close to objects with either multipath or shielding from the horizon as a result. This results in a degraded

Figure 3: RTK GPS measurements in november 2001. The scale for both X,Y and Z is 0.25 meters. The Kp index is an indication of the radio environment in the ionosphere (red = bad). (source Kp index:

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April/May 2006


Figure 6: Position error through an incorrect choice of geodetic datum. In the example we read ED50 positions (centre). The WGS84 positions from the GPS receiver are 180 meters further in coordinates.

Figure 4: Through reflection of GPS signals a longer travel time is registered, resulting in position errors.

position and a difficulty to detect. Large steel structures such as cranes or masts will shield the horizon just as a bridge or a tree, a fact that is not always appreciated in the field; The use of height aiding without entering the correct antenna height above sea level. As was discussed in the previous article, the use of height aiding should be questioned these days since sufficient satellites are available for a good positioning fix under normal conditions; Incorrect initialisation position after a cold start of the receiver. This will not result in an incorrect position, but in no position reading altogether; Incorrect geodetic settings. GPS calculates all positions in WGS84 coordinates, but most receivers have the option to transform these to any other coordinate system for presentation on the screen. With most receivers the output message will however contain WGS84 coordinates. Errors as a result of the selection of an incorrect geodetic datum can be as high as hundreds of meters, see Figure 5.

Quality Control
To gain insight into the quality of a calculated position there are a number of quality control parameters available in most GPS receivers. The most important one probably is the Dilution of Precision (DOP). The DOP describes the geometric strength of the satellite configuration, or in other words the spreading of the satellites around the horizon. When all satellites are on one side of the horizon, see Figure 7a, the receiver will calculate a high DOP value. There are a number of DOPs available, but with ordinary GPS positioning the Horizontal DOP (HDOP) and geometric DOP (GDOP) are possibly the most important ones. Next to the DOP, some receivers have the ability to calculate the so-called Line of Position Mean Error (LPME). This is an indication of the precision of the position itself and will factor in other parameters like the travel time measurement. Some manufacturers present the user with a so-called quality figure that is said to indicate the precision of the position determination. This quality figure is usually calculated from

Figure 5: antenna with choke ring to prevent multipath (source:

parameters like the HDOP and LPME. As a rule one should treat these figures with due caution since the formula used to calculate this is generally unknown to the user.

From this article it can be seen that there are a large number of error sources influencing the GPS position determination. We should take these error sources rather serious when performing high quality GPS measurements. A number of the errors described in this article can be corrected using DGPS, which will be described in the next article.
Huibert-Jan Lekkerkerk ( is a freelance writer and trainer in the field of positioning and hydrography.

Figure 7: the Dilution of Precision is high (a) when all satellites are on one side of the antenna and low (b) when there is an even geometric spreading of the satellites.


April/May 2006

Conferences & Meetings

International Symposium on
'Biggest Contribution Conceptual Rather Than Scientific'
In honour of altimetry, oceanographers, glaciologists, hydrologists and geodesists from around the world have gathered at the 15 Years of Progress in radar Altimetry symposium in Venice, Italy. They presented and discuss the current and future scientific and operational applications of radar altimetry, and how altimetry data can be used in synergy with other satellite and in-situ results as well as computer modelling. By Joc Triglav

Study of the Ocean

Measuring the ever-shifting sea surface radar altimetry is valuable to several scientific and application fields like monitoring El Nio events, mapping the circulation of Earth's ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream and quantifying the impact of global warming on sea levels. Warm ocean currents can cause sea surface height to rise up to a metre above the surrounding waters. Average wave height and wind speed can also be derived. Along with other space techniques and in-situ networks, altimetry is also a key component of emerging ocean forecast operational systems which provide, several days/weeks in advance, essential information for ship routing, oil spill drift monitoring, marine resource management and climate forecasting. Radar altimetry also allows researchers to peer indirectly beneath the waves: undersea bathymetry features are revealed by persistent, slight undulations of the marine geoid the equipotential surface in the gravity field of the Earth that coincides with the undisturbed mean sea level created by minor variations in the Earth's gravity due to the sea floor relief.

Scientists with an interest in radar altimetry have gathered from around the world in Italy at the 15 Years of Progress in Radar Altimetry symposium. Sponsored by ESA and the French Space Agency (CNES), the symposium was being held in Venice Lido from 13 to 18 March 2006 (Credits: ESA).

The measurement of sea level is a topic of special significance for Venice because the life of Venetians is strictly connected to the sea level. This is one of the reasons why Venice was chosen to host this international symposium. The event took place in the 15th year since the launch of ESA's ERS-1, whose payload included the Radar Altimeter (RA). Organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) together with the French Space Agency (CNES), the '15 Years of Progress in Radar Altimetry' symposium was being held in Venice Lido from 13 to 18 March 2006, and was a major scientific event on a class of space-borne sensor that precisely records the height of the global sea surface along with that of freshwater bodies, land surfaces and the icy cryosphere.

Land Surface
Over land, radar altimetry delivers enhanced digital elevation models (DEMs), and recent improvements in processing algorithms have made it possible to monitor the levels of rivers and lakes, allowing more precise quantifying of the vast amounts of freshwater that flows across Earth's land surface. For the Cryosphere - those regions of the Earth where water freezes - radar altimetry has


June 2006

Conferences & Meetings

Radar Altimetry in Italy

been successful in measuring the mass balance of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and providing initial global monitoring results for sea ice thickness. A combined ground segment specially develAltimeter-based chart showing variability of the Gulf Stream, with an inset showing modelled stratification of the temperature field (red is warmest, blue is coldest) (Credits: CNES/AVISO).

oped by CNES for altimetry missions called SSALTODUACS ('Segment Sol multimission d'ALTimtrie, d'Orbitographie et de localisation prcise - Developing Use of Altimetry for Climate Studies') is able to combine radar altimetry data to provide the best possible global The radar altimeter offers valuable information on the state of the ocean by ocean coverage. providing measurements of the height of the ocean surface. Knowing the This makes a number of operaheight of the sea surface has allowed scientists, for the first time, to map tional services possible, includthe ocean floor (Credits: ESA). ing a French system called Mercator Ocean that provides analysis and Distance to Planet forecasts of ocean circulation around Europe Since its launch in 2002, from its 800-km-high for up to a fortnight ahead. An important scipolar orbit, Envisat's Radar Altimeter-2 (RA-2) ence result is solid evidence of a steady sends 1800 separate radar pulses down to sea level rise averaging 0.3 millimetres a Earth per second then records how long their year. echoes take to bounce back. The sensor times History its pulses' journey down to under a nanosecRadar altimeters were first flown in ond to calculate the distance to the planet space in the 1970s, aboard NASA's below to an accuracy of two centimetres. Skylab, Geos 3 and Seasat. Initially The symposium took place a few weeks after these sensors were dedicated to the ESA received the green light from its Member study of oceans, but as the technology States to build and launch a CryoSat recovery improved so did their reach. The mission, Cryosat-2, which is expected to be European experience in radar altimetry launched in March 2009. Thanks to its main dates back to 1991, when ESA launched instrument, the Synthetic Aperture its ERS-1 satellite, which included the first Interferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL), Radar Altimeter (RA), precisely calibrated CryoSat-2 will precisely monitor changes in the over the water of Venice. Since then, ESA elevation and thickness of polar ice sheets has continued to accumulate homogeneous and floating sea ice. These data will help data by follow-up instruments aboard ERS-2 explain the connection between the melting of and Envisat satellites. the polar ice and the rise in sea levels and In 1992, as a support to the World Ocean how this is contributing to climate change. Circulation Experiment program, NASA and ESA has been flying radar altimeters in space CNES launched the Topex/Poseidon mission, ever since the launch of ERS-1 in 1991, amassfully optimised to measure the sea surface ing a continuous 15 year dataset that covers topography with an unprecedented accuracy not only the global ocean but also freshwater of a few centimetres. bodies, land surfaces and the cryosphere. The Topex/Poseidon mission was comThis archive will extend further into the future. pleted at the end of 2005, after 13 A radar altimeter will be included on the years of successful and continuous Sentinel-3 mission planned to support operaocean surveys. Its successor, Jason-1, tional oceanography services. These have been was launched in 2001 and the launch developed as part of the Global Monitoring for of Jason-2, a joint CNES/NASA/EUMETEnvironment and Security (GMES) initiative of SAT/NOAA mission, is scheduled to the European Union and ESA. take over in 2008. Also currently in Symposium Related Events operation is the GFO mission, the US Along with this symposium, three related Navy's Geosat Follow-On Mission, events were taking place in Venice the same which is a sequel to the previous week: the annual meeting of the Ocean Geosat mission (1985-1989).

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June 2006


Conferences & Meetings

At the latest meeting of the European Space Agency's Earth Observation Programme Board in Paris in February 2006, ESA received the green light from its Member States to build and launch a CryoSat recovery mission, CryoSat-2( Credits: ESA - P. Carril)

Altimetry-derived mean dynamic topography of the sea surface, which is the mean sea surface height relative to the geoid, or the theoretical surface of equal gravity around the Earth (Credits: CLS).

cy of a few centimetres by detecting and measuring the Doppler shift on signals broadcast from a network of more than 50 radio beacons spread across the world. These data are precious tools for improving the accuracy of altimetry measurements. DORIS receivers are aboard many satellites including Envisat and CryoSat. ARGO is the name for an array of more than 2400 profiling floats which provide temperatures and salinity profiles for various depths across the global ocean. ARGO results are scientifically valuable in their own right but can also be combined with altimetry data for enhanced environmental and climate knowledge.

array of achievements, many scientists have come to Venice to honour it for different reasons. According to one of the pioneers of the altimeter, Massachusetts Institute of Technologys (MIT) Carl Wunsch, its biggest contribution is conceptual rather than scientific. It changed the way scientists viewed the ocean. The greatest achievement of the altimeter is that it has shown us that the ocean system changes rather dramatically everyday. It has shifted the view of it from this almost geological phenomenon creeping along very slowly to something much more interesting in which fluid is moving in all directions at all times.
Joc Triglav ( is a

Surface Topography Science Team (OSTST particularly concerned with GFO, Topex/Poseidon, Jason-1/2 and Envisat altimetric missions), the International DORIS Service (IDS) Workshop and the ARGO Workshop. Doppler Orbitography and Radiopositioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) is an onboard satellite radio receiver used for precise orbit determination. DORIS derives it to an accura-

Ocean as a Whole
Knowing the height of the sea surface tells scientists a great deal about what is happening at lower depths. Before the advent of radar altimetry, oceanographers had no way of looking at the ocean as a whole, which is essential because changes in one part of the ocean will eventually affect the whole rest of the ocean. Signifying radar altimetrys vast

contributing editor and columnist of GeoInformatics. Have a look at to learn more about ESA Earth Observation and at to learn more about the Venice Symposium.

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June 2006



Part 4: Differential GPS syste

Practical Satellite Navigation
Most professional users will find the precision and reliability of the standalone GPS signal below standard. The error sources mentioned in the previous article play a large role in this assessment. Therefore, soon after the introduction of GPS, users started looking for methods and techniques to improve the reliability and precision of GPS positioning. Next to the improvement of the receivers themselves, a solution was found in the use of differential GPS (dGPS). By Huibert-Jan Lekkerkerk

meter to a couple of meters can be achieved. The actual precision depends on the distance between base and rover and the telemetry frequency chosen for transmitting the corrections.

Carrier Phase dGPS

This technique uses the carrier wave (L1 and L2) of the GPS signal. The length of the carrier wave is in the order of 20 centimetres and has as such a much shorter wavelength than the code signal (300 meters). As a result carrier phase dGPS is more precise than code phase dGPS. As a consequence however, the determining corrections with carrier phase dGPS requires more computation than when using the code signal. A large hurdle to overcome is the determination of the whole number of wavelengths (cycles) between the satellite and receiver. This whole number of cycles is also called the integer ambiguity and needs to be resolved during the initialisation of the system. Resolving this is usually done with two receivers measuring towards at least 5 identical satellites. Between these two receivers the difference in whole number of cycles is determined (single, double and triple differencing). From this starting point the receiver tracks the change in cycles as the distance between satellite and receiver changes.

Principle of code phase dGPS. Pseudo corrections between base and satellite are determined.

Base and Rover

The term differential GPS is derived from measurement technique. All dGPS systems use a reference station (base) in combination with a mobile station (rover). The base antenna is deployed over a benchmark or control point for which the position is exactly known. The base receiver is set to compute its position from the satellite signals. This calculated position is then compared with the benchmark position with a position difference as a result. The differences found result from errors and inaccuracies in the entire measurement. The calculated differences can now be sent from the base to the rover. In the rover the corrections are applied to enhance the rover position. There are two principal techniques used to calculate the differences between base and rover, called code phase and carrier phase dGPS. The main difference between the two lies in the part of the GPS signal used for calculating the corrections.

Code Phase dGPS

With code phase dGPS, the base measures the pseudo ranges towards the satellites using the C/A code. The base calculates the theoretical pseudo ranges from its (known) location to the satellite as well and compares the two to derive a pseudo range correction. These corrections are then sent, one per satellite, to the rover where they are applied to the ranges measured from the corresponding satellites. The real error at the rover will of course differ from that at the base, but since the satellites are at a relatively long distance when compared to the distance between base and rover, they are generally valid. The further the distance between base and rover, the lower the accuracy of the corrections and thus the precision of the rover position. Errors at the base position like multi path will have a direct influence on the quality of the dGPS signal and thus on the rover position. With code phase dGPS a precision in the order of one

Absolute Positions
The result of a carrier phase position determination is a position difference between base and rover. No absolute positions are calculated in either base or rover. The only function of the base is gathering raw data from the satellites and re-transmitting (or storing) these for use in the rover. The absolute rover position is found by adding the found x, y and z to the absolute x, y and z entered manually in the base. For practical purposes a carrier


June 2006


ms and RTK Techniques

There are a multitude of methods to get the dGPS correction signal from the base to the rover. Much used techniques are: Radio telemetry; Satellite telemetry; Mobile telephone.

Principle of carrier phase dGPS. Position differences between base and rover are determined.

phase dGPS system can thus be seen as land survey total station. Although it is one without the need to have a line of sight between instrument and beacon and an effective range of kilometres. There are a number of carrier phase techniques in use today; the table on page 57 gives an overview of the most important ones. The following definitions are important when using the table: Post processing. Measurements are taken in the field and processed in the office. Results are not visible online;

Real time. The measurements are taken in the field and are online visible; Static initialisation. The system may not move during initialisation, movement of the rover is not allowed; Continuous measurement. Measurements can be taken while moving, thus creating a continuous profile or measurement.

Radio Telemetry This method is mostly used for small-scale projects where high precision is needed or where no regular dGPS infrastructure is in place. With radio telemetry, the achievable range depends on the chosen frequency band and power used. Much used bands are the UHF band (RTK systems) with a maximum range equal to the line of sight or roughly 40 kilometres. Another widely used band is the MF band (IALA beacons) with a range of tens of kilometres. The International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) transmits free to air signals from beacons close to harbours of shipping lanes.
A specific form of radio telemetry is the Eurofix system. With Eurofix, Loran-C transmitters transmit the dGPS correction signal. Loran-C is a terrestrial radio positioning system that seemed to become victim to the widespread use of dGPS. However, since then various reports (the Volpe report - United States and Helios study Europe) criticized the vulnerability of GPS as a sole means of navigation. Since Loran-C uses terrestrial transmitters with high power signals in a different frequency band it is not vulnerable to the same sources as GPS.

Height Measurement
Accurate height measurement is not possible with code phase dGPS. Carrier phase dGPS however does offer this possibility and is the primary reason for choosing carrier phase dGPS over code phase dGPS for certain applications. Carrier phase dGPS seems to replace the total station and level instrument as such for all but the most accurate jobs. An important difference between the height measurement of a carrier phase dGPS system and the more traditional land survey methods is that the height reference used is different. With GPS, heights are determined relative to the WGS84 ellipsoid and not as with level instruments relative to a gravity based reference or geoid such as mean sea level. When measuring over distances of kilometres, the difference between the ellipsoid and geoid can cause height errors in the order of centimetres to decimetres. In order to reference the GPS measurements to the geoid a correction is needed. Most geodetic type receivers and software packages use so-called geoid models to correct for this.

Difference for the Netherlands between the ellipsoid of Bessel and Dutch Datum (NAP), based upon the geoid of the Min (1996). (source: Dutch Geo Information and ICT department of Rijkswaterstaat).

European IALA dGPS chain (source: IALA).

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Multi Reference Systems

Most dGPS systems consist of a network of reference stations whereby the stations continuously check each other. As a result, errors in a single base station can be easily detected resulting in a higher reliability. Another advantage is the possibility to use combined corrections from multiple base stations. Depending on the network, there are many ways to combine the different corrections into a single solution. Some receivers obtain information from multiple base stations and will calculate the optimal solution based upon the rover position. Another method is to perform the calculation in the network itself. This way the receiver can be simpler but we will need to transmit our position to the network. This means that we need bidirectional telemetry. This technique often consists of telemetry via the mobile telephone.

Overview of carrier phase techniques.

As a stand-alone system it is however less precise. By combining Loran and GPS, a system is created that is less vulnerable and which can achieve a precision of meters even when the GPS signal is interrupted. The Americans are fully convinced that Loran-C should remain active for this reason and are modernizing their Loran-C transmitters. Some European governments however are less convinced and one of the Loran-C chains, the Northwest Europe Loran-C System (NELS) is reportedly threatened to be shut down. The argument often heard is that Galileo will solve the problems mentioned. This is not a valid argument however, since Galileo is vulnerable in much the same way as GPS and/or GLONASS since all systems are based on the same principles and frequency bands.

Mobile telephone Corrections via mobile telephone are at the moment offered by commercial services only. Dutch examples are LNR Globalcom (see the article on page 32 of this issue) and 06-GPS networks. The advantage of these networks is that they offer a large number of reference stations over a relatively small area. As a result high precision is achievable without the need to erect an own base station. The main disadvantage is the high cost when performing continuous measurements. As a result these networks are commonly used for calculating base positions. However with the introduction of UMTS and GPRS techniques costs will probably drop considerably.

With dGPS techniques we cannot only improve the precision of our position to within centimetres using carrier phase dGPS, but more important, we have a means to check the reliability of the GPS signal itself.
Huibert-Jan Lekkerkerk ( is a freelance writer and trainer in the field of positioning and hydrography.

Satellite telemetry At the moment corrections via mobile telephones are offered by commercial services only. When dGPS signals are transmitted via a satellite network, they can cover a much larger area than when transmitted from terrestrial beacons. There are a number of commercial networks based upon satellite telemetry. An example of such a network is the Fugro Omnistar / Starfix network. A special form of satellite dGPS is WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) and its European counterpart Egnos (European Geostationary Overlay System). With Egnos the - free - correction signals are transmitted on the same frequency as the GPS signals themselves. As a result no expensive separate dGPS receiver is needed. The GPS receiver however needs to be able to receive the so-called SBAS messages that are transmitted by geo-stationary satellites.
Eurofix coverage with the NELS chain. (source:

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June 2006


Educational Corner
What is UNIGIS? UNIGIS is a network of
universities co-operating to supply postgraduate Certificate, Diploma and Masters courses on GIS by distance learning as well as short workshops on current developments in GIS. It was founded in 1990 and currently includes sites in eleven countries on three continents. About 900 students have taken the UNIGIS Diploma Course world-wide. For more information: This page is a product of the UNIGIS International Network and is authored by the UNIGIS Port Elizabeth, South Africa Office. Information: UNIGIS South Africa, Port Elizabeth, Tel: +27 41 504 3668, e-mail: Internet:

Friends of UNIGIS Organisations which

work closely together with the UNIGIS International Network are ESRI and Intergraph. These Friends of UNIGIS make available their products for UNIGIS students for a low price and support students in MSc-projects. Currently UNIGIS is in negotiation with other potential Friends. For more information on the Friends of UNIGIS Programme contact: Henk Scholten,

Galileo Test Bed

GNSS are based on the premise of celestial instead of terrestrial positioning. This will not change with the upcoming European Galileo system. But, Galileos full operational constellation is currently not foreseen until 2011, with a first validation set of operational satellites for testing several years away as well. By Josef Strobl
primarily support the development of systems and receivers, including combined GPS and Galileo devices. The GATE infrastructure will undergo a turnof-the-year beta testing period and from approximately mid-2007 move to a fee-based business model. GATE users will then be able to conduct their own experiments with confidential results, assisting with the development of innovative technologies and services based on Galileo. And yes, the idea of innovation is very much at the heart of Galileo. While of course the creation of an independent civilian GNSS is a core motivation and business opportunities for European enterprises are hoped for, Galileo capabilities go beyond what we experience from current GNSS. This starts with guaranteed signal availability and quality, includes new signal characteristics while maintaining GPS compatibility to reap the benefits of a higher number of satellites in simultaneous view from receivers, and the introduction of a two-way emergency beacon facility.

The Galileo test bed in Berchtesgaden, close to the city of Salzburg, Germany.

Promises of Benefits
The promises of benefits in the prime target application domains The UNIGIS International Association offers distance education to GIS professionals worldwide. Acquisition of spatial data through GNSS as well as real-time positioning as a foundation of Location Based Systems (LBS) are key technologies for geoinformation practitioners. UNIGIS is therefore looking forward to allow students a glimpse into the future of GNSS by including Galileo into its curricula and to offer some hands-on previews through the Galileo test bed.
Josef Strobl ( works as a Professor at the Centre for Geoinformatics, Salzburg University. More information: www.galileo-gate-com - GATE Homepage Berchtesgaden Business Development Agency General orientation

This is where the Galileo test bed comes into play. The transmitters emulate signals from the future Galileo system, including the simulation of time/distance delays and atmospheric effects. In a small area of 65 square kilometres in and around Berchtesgaden Galileo will be in operation from early 2007. The main rationale for this test bed infrastructure is to give receiver and applications developers an early opportunity to evaluate prototypes and to verify the features Galileo will be offering.

German Aerospace Center (DLR). It aims at bridging the gap between electronics lab technology development and deployment in orbit. GATE transmitters will support all Galileo frequencies plus flexible signal generation based on atomic clocks to simulate behaviour under varying conditions.

Shifting Code Phase

While the different modes will require use of a custom-built receiver terminal (GATE User Terminal GUT) supplied by the GATE operators, in Virtual Satellite Mode (VSM) a generic GNSS receiver is assumed. The GATE transmitter infrastructure now fully mimics satellites by shifting code phase, Doppler shift and signal power levels of carrier and code forth and back in a way that the signal is perceived as coming from orbit. VSM will

Bridging the Gap

The implemention of the Berchtesgaden area test bed with its full name of Galileo Test and Development Environment (GATE) has been contracted to IfEN GmbH by the

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June 2006


Product News

Leica Geosystems Introduces Leica ScanStation

Leica ScanStation, a 3D laser scanner with four core total station features: Full field-of view (FOV); Survey-grade dual-axis tilt compensation for traversing and re-sectioning; Survey-grade accuracy for each measurement; Excellent useful measuring range. Leica ScanStation retains the FOV of its predecessor, the Leica HDS3000 scanner, with a maximum 360 degrees horizontal FOV and maximum 270 degrees vertical FOV. With this FOV, ScanStation can scan overhead while simultaneously using scan targets spread optimally at ground level for accurate registration/control. This type of logistical freedom is similar to that of a total station and provides valuable versatility and project savings for accurately capturing overhead structures such as ceilings, bridges, overpasses, domes, facades, pipe racks, columns and towers. Integrating the same one-second resolution, dual-axis (tilt) compensator as in Leica Geosystems total stations, Leica ScanStation can be used with traditional traverse and resection workflows for additional field and office savings. Leica ScanStation and its sister Leica HDS3000 scanner achieves survey-grade accuracy for each scan point without averaging. This lets users take advantage of the ability to click on individual scan points and use them directly for survey-grade coordinate and distance measurements with confidence in their accuracy. With a maximum range of 300m (90 percent surface

reflectivity), a narrow beam and ultra-fine scanning capability, Leica ScanStation addresses the vast majority of as-built and topographic survey projects for which users would consider the use of reflectorless instruments. Leica Geosystems will continue to offer Leica ScanStations predecessor scanner, the Leica HDS3000 time-of-flight scanner (without dualaxis compensation), and the ultra-high speed Leica HDS4500 phase-based scanner as standard products.

Leica Cyclone v5.5 is being announced simultaneously as companion software for operating Leica ScanStation in re-section, back-sight and traverse workflows. Source: Leica Geosystems


Septentrio Introduces Industrial GPS/Galileo OEM Receiver Platform

Crescent A100 smart antenna CSI's Hemisphere GPS

CSI's Hemisphere GPS division announced its new Crescent A100 smart antenna that combines a GPS antenna with a GPS receiver featuring Hemisphere's new high-performance Crescent OEM module. The Crescent A100 features: Update rates of up to 20Hz; Radar-simulated pulse output to determine ground speed; CAN and serial communication for compatibility with many devices and Interfaces; A LED that indicates when the unit has power, when it is tracking GPS, and when it has a dGPS solution; Mounting by using fixed or magnetic options; Low, compact profile to avoid potential overhead obstructions.

Septentrio announces AsteRx1TM, a compact high-end single-frequency GNSS receiver for demanding industrial and professional applications. Besides GPS performance, AsteRx1TM incorporates capabilities for full use of the European Galileo L1 signal. The first Galileo satellite, GIOVE-A, was launched in December 2005, and Septentrio receivers have successfully been tracking all signals transmitted since January 2006 by the new navigation satellite. It is the first product in a new family of GNSS receiver boards from Septentrio. AsteRx1TM is a creditcard-sized OEM board with low power consumption and high update rates, featuring all-in-view GPS and Galileo tracking and offering good measurement quality for high-precision positioning also in challenging environments. AsteRx1TM is compatible both with the GIOVE-A signal and with the operational Galileo signal. Septentrio is involved in

the design of Galileo Test User Receivers at all stages of the Galileo program, from early testing to final deployment and in the development of commercial user receivers for precision-demanding applications. Septentrio expects to start shipping AsteRx1TM at the end of the summer of 2006. Septentrio Satellite Navigation NV designs, manufactures, markets and supports high-end OEM GNSS receivers for professional navigation, positioning and timing applications. The company has an international team of experts in all areas of satellite navigation receiver design and applications. Source: Septentrio Internet:

The Crescent A100 also features Hemisphere's COAST(TM) and e-Dif(R) technologies. COAST software enables Hemisphere receivers to utilize old differential GPS (DGPS) correction data for 40 minutes or more without significantly affecting the quality of positioning. When using COAST, receivers are less likely to be affected by differential GPS signal outages due to signal blockages, weak signals or interference. The Crescent A100 will replace Hemisphere's existing GPS smart antenna products - the Seres and AgIQ - and those under the brands of Hemisphere's OEM partners, including agricultural industry partners. Source: CSI's Hemisphere Internet:


June 2006

Product News

Thales Introduces Z-Max.Net GPS Receiver

Thales presents Z-Max.Net, a next-generation, network-capable GPS receiver system for boundary, topographic and construction surveys. Z-Max.Net offers surveyors expanded communications capabilities, simplicity of operation, RTK performance and flexibility to meet a wide range of surveying tasks. ZMax.Net provides NTRIP , GPRS and RTCM V3.0 network communication. Z-Max.Net offers multiple operating modes, configurations and communication protocols. Detachable modules make configuration changes and system upgrades possible. Z-Max.Net can function in every mode of operation, RTK or post processing, as a base or rover, and also in a VRS or FKP network. As a standard feature, ZMax.Net offers free wide data format compatibility, including RTCM V2.X, CMR, CMR+, DBEN, DSNP , RTCM V3.0 and NTRIP , and can be integrated with other equipment. Z-Max.Net can be adapted to meet of local conditions by communicating using Pacific Crest UHF, Thales UHF, GSM, or a unique combined UHF and GSM/GPRS module. For enhanced coverage in North America Z-Max.Net also features a new internal modem to provide full coverage of the GSM/GPRS bands from 850 through 1900 MHz. Z-Max.Net offers two-second initialization, extended operation up to 50 km (30 miles). The comprehensive office software package, GNSS Solutions, includes all of the tools required to successfully process GPS, GLONASS and SBAS survey data. Focusing on simplicity, the software guides surveyors through mission preparation planning, processing, quality control, reporting and data exporting. Source: Thales Internet:

Launch Leica MobileMatriX v1.51

Leica Geosystems Launches Cyclone 5.5 for High-Definition Surveys

traversing, including calculation of traverse closures. Standard survey-style reports, including error calculations, are generated for both resectioning and traversing. The new Leica Cyclone 5.5-supported workflows offer field and office labor savings. Savings result from placing & surveying up to two-thirds fewer scan targets and from a reduced need to execute office registration processes, as registration & geo-referencing can now be done automatically in the field. The new workflows and software features also shorten a surveyors learning curve for this cuttingedge technology as these workflows are all standard methods used with a total station, an everyday surveying tool. Leica Cyclone 5.5 also continues to support registration and geo-referencing based on scan targets, modeled objects, and cloud-to-cloud methods. Together with resectioning, back-sighting, and traversing, this set of workflow options provides users with valuable added flexibility and cross-checking aids. Source: Leica Geosystems Internet:

With its newly launched Version 1.51, Leica MobileMatriX now fully supports a Multi-Sensor GIS. Within a Multi-Sensor GIS field crews can attach several sensors TPS, GPS, Levels and Laser Range Finders at the same time and also can measure with various sensors simultaneously. By accurately synchronizing data from various independent sensors, Leica MobileMatriX manages measurement processes and storage of those in one common database directly. Leica MobileMatriX, a mobile GIS - the natural expansion of the enterprise database into the field - allows the user to add points, measurements and features either using Total Stations (TPS), Global Positioning System (GPS), Level Instruments or other sensors such as Laser Range Finder. The concept of a task-oriented implementation of geodetic measurements in a mobile GIS allows a fast, immediate and cost-effective data acquisition. Furthermore, since the software is graphically based, data quality and completeness can be checked immediately as data is acquired, which avoids expensive re-measurements when quality control activities in the office detect deficiencies. By connecting level and GPS sensors simultaneously to Leica MobileMatriX, field crews can measure accurate locations with GPS and parallel they can update the less accurate height information with a level measured height. This process is called Height Modernization and is possible by the Multi-Sensor support in Leica MobileMatriX v1.51. The Height Modernization utilizes GNSS and TPS technology together with level instruments to improve all mapping, surveying and engineering activities and establish accurate and reliable heights all within one mobile application. All this can be done with Leica MobileMatriX v1.51. Source: Leica Geosystems Internet:

Spatial Express Application LizardTech

LizardTech announced further support of JPEG 2000 within its Spatial Express application which enables storage of MrSID and JPEG 2000 images natively in Oracle Spatial 10g. Oracle Spatial 10g provides a robust foundation for storing and retrieving geospatial data from Oracle Database 10g. In addition, because Spatial Express uses the Oracle Spatial GeoRaster API, applications will be able to retrieve and view JPEG 2000 and MrSID imagery from Oracle Spatial 10g. Organizations no longer have to wonder whether their application will support various file formats because Spatial Express allows users to choose their image format and begin work. Source: LizardTech Internet:

Leica Geosystems launched Leica Cyclone 5.5 software. The new software version lets users take advantage of traverse, back-sight, and resection capabilities of the new Leica ScanStation laser scanner for more cost-effective as-built and topographic surveys. Cyclone 5.5 also lets users create plant as-built models more efficiently from laser scans. New features in Cyclone-SCAN and -REGISTER modules pace the survey-grade, dual-axis level compensation capability of the new Leica ScanSation laser scanner. With these new features, Leica ScanStation users can take advantage of (1) resectioning - or free stationing - methods for direct, field geo-referencing of scan data and (2)

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June 2006


Product News

Launch Leica fieldPro

2D drawings or 3D CAD models of any site in real time. With Leica fieldPro tasks can be completed on site with no site revisits or rework. Leica fieldPro is a complete software solution that works directly in AutoCAD and other Autodesk products. fieldPro adds a set of menus and toolbars to the users existing AutoCAD toolset and uses the familiar AutoCAD user interface. Different options of Leica fieldPro interface in real time directly from CAD to Leica Geosystems sensors, such as the Leica DISTO plus to create floor plans or any other architectural as-built. Leica Geosystems TPS and GPS sensors can be used to create 2D drawings or 3D models on site, or to stakeout directly from the design CAD file in 2D or 3D.

eSpatial and Laser-Scan Of fer SpatialTrust

Laser-Scan and eSpatial extend their existing collaboration to jointly develop and promote SpatialTrust. This combined product and services solution delivers on the need for discovery, aggregation, quality assurance and controlled dissemination of spatial data assets. Built on the combined components of iSMART5 and Radius Studio, the offering provides for an Enterprise Class architecture underpinned by Oracle Spatial and Oracle Application Server 10g. The SpatialTrust solution enables the following key activities: Discovery of available data across an enterprise; Access to data from source and transformation as required; Aggregation of data sources into a usable format; Quality certification of the data including the process of rule generation, automated & manual fixing and ongoing conformance checks delivering data quality certification; Controlled dissemination of the data to users and applications. Source: Laser-Scan and eSpatial Internet: and

Leica fieldPro, a mobile CAD software, is an on-site and on-demand field solution for Surveying, Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC). fieldPro works seamlessly together with Leica Geosystems sensors, such as TPS, GPS and Leica DISTO plus, allowing users to create and visualize

Source: Leica Geosystems Internet:


June 2006

Product News

IMAGINE Easytrace by Leica Geosystems

3D Nature Announces Google Earth KML Exporter

Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imagings IMAGINE Easytrace delivers efficient assisted feature extraction, driving efficiency throughout the vector feature capture process by minimizing the number of

mouse clicks that a user must perform. When capturing vector information from a digital source, such as satellite imagery or aerial photography, traditional heads-up digitizing requires the user to place vertices frequently along a road or land cover boundary. The IMAGINE Easytrace add-on to IMAGINE Essentials expedites this process by employing interactively placed seed points and then applying an adaptive line fitting algorithm to accurately trace the feature between the seed locations, reducing the time needed to capture irregular linear and polygonal features.

Source: Leica Geosystems Internet:

Jupiter 30 Ultra High Sensitivity GPS Module Navman

Geo-3D Releases Trident-3D Analyst Version 3.3

Geo-3D Inc. released a new version of its Trident-3D Analyst data extraction software. Trident-3D Analyst is a soft-copy photogrammetric tool for the analysis of digital images captured with horizontally oriented camera systems. Trident-3D Analyst has the capability of working in static or temporal stereo-base mode. The new version includes the following features: 3D GIS viewer based on openGL; Improved OTF Calibration tool (possibility of using control points); Support for Oracle ODBC linked layers.

3D Nature introduced their new Google Earth KML exporter for their Scene Express product. This new feature brings the companys landscape-visualization technology to the realm of KML- compatible 3D Geographic Exploration Systems like Google Earth and ESRI's ArcGIS Explorer. Users can place roads, vegetation and landcover, buildings, vehicles and structures to build a comprehensive and detailed environment. Visual Nature Studio makes creating still images and animated flythroughs a snap, and Scene Express' multi-format exporter expands these abilities into the domains of VRML, 3D Nature's NatureView Express and now KML for Google Earth. Notable features of the KML exporter include the ability to quickly and easily link rich text, photos and web page links to objects in the 3D scene, driven by GIS attribute data. This permits the rapid creation of huge environments with markers and other entities that can be clicked upon to display information, or even jump to a web site about the entity. The Google Earth exporter is available now as a free update for all current Scene Express 2 owners. Source: 3D Nature Internet:

Source: PCI Geomatics Internet:

Manufactured for embedding into any device that requires position specific information, the Jupiter 30 is an ultra-high sensitivity surface mount GPS receiver designed for rapid position fixes in low signal strength conditions. The Jupiter 30 combines TCXO, LNA, flash memory and other select highquality components with the latest integrated SiRF GSC3 chipset into a package that is optimized for the best RF tracking capabilities possible, and delivers fast (less than one second) GPS acquisition time-to-first-fix. The Jupiter 30 is compatible with devices with wider operating voltage ranges and that require greater noise rejection than other GPS modules. The unit involves low-power operation and full use of the SiRF GSC3 power level modes. Its gain characteristics and optimized LNA and RF signal path design enable integration into products with active or passive GPS antennas. Further specifications include 20-channel mode GPS support; acquisition fix performance of <1 second (hot start), 32 seconds (warm start) and 34 seconds (cold start); ephemeris tail and bit sync for quicker time to fix in poor conditions and SiRFLoc multi-mode GPS support for improved fix availability. The physical characteristics of the device are 25.4mm x 25.4mm x 3.0mm form factor and 4.0 grams in weight based on an industry standard form factor providing an easy upgrade path. The Navman Jupiter 30 GPS module is available in sample quantities, with full production volume available in April 2006.

Leica Introduces GradeSmart 3D V 5.2

Leica Geosystems announced the upcoming release of Leica GradeSmart 3D (V5.2), a smart machine automation dozer and grader solution for the construction industry. The latest generation (V5.2) also marks the introduction of the new name Leica GradeSmart 3D (formally Leica GradeStar). Leica GradeSmart 3D 5.2 includes a range of features and developments which are designed to improve the ease of use of GradeSmart 3D. To facilitate this, version 5.2 will introduce new features and improvements designed to enhance speed of operation, support and usability. Key to the enhancements within Leica GradeSmart 3D 5.2 is a streamlining of the data transformation process. This is achieved with the

introduction of the Leica SiteSmart software range, and Leica SiteSmart - Translator.

Source: Leica Geosystems Internet:

Integrated Solution PCI Geomatics and eSpatial

PCI Geomatics and eSpatial jointly announce the integration of PCI Geomatica Image Management System (GIMS) with eSpatial iSMART. GIMS is an enterprise-wide solution that can store, process, and access geospatial data using PCI Geomatics, Oracle, and eSpatial technology. GIMS enables the management of image data or metadata, or both, in a database and provides intelligent data loading, storage and Web-based access solutions, which can help increase the practicality, integrity, and accessibility of image data.

Source: Navman Internet: products/gps_receivers/jupiter_30

Source: PCI Geomatics Internet:

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June 2006


Industry News

Facts / Figures / Contracts

STAR INFORMATIC Receives Oracle Award
STAR INFORMATIC has received the Oracle Spatial Excellence Award for Partnership 2006 is in recognition of STAR INFORMATIC's contribution to the development of the Oracle Spatial partner community in EMEA, STARs position as a leading force in creating a new and innovative community of Oracle Spatial-based solutions and its success in deploying Oracle Spatial as part of its solutions broadly throughout Europe and the Middle East. STAR INFORMATIC is a Partner in the Oracle PartnerNetwork.

purchase of BitWyses assets is expected to extend Trimbles product portfolio of 3D laser scanning solutions by providing application-specific software capabilities within the Power, Process, and Plant vertical markets. These markets are increasingly utilizing laser scanning data to create as-built drawings, verify construction specifications and improve productivity.

Nasional (BPN) has purchased Radius Topology. BPN Sub Directorate Mapping and Photogrammetry is the national agency responsible for the provision of spatial data to all local governments in Indonesia. Credent will provide BPN with a software solution that will automate the spatial data cleaning process. Laser-Scans software will be the spatial data quality component of the Oracle data hub.

EMI Selects INPHO for 16 new Photogrammetric Systems

EMI Harita Ltd with their headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, have selected INPHO software suite as the new software platform for extending their digital map production facilities. INPHO has recently delivered 16 photogrammetric systems to EMI, consisting of production tools which include highly automated aerial triangulation (MATCH-AT), DTM generation (MATCH-T; DTMaster), advanced 3D mapping (Summit Evolution), as well as orthorectification (OrthoMaster) and fully automated color balancing and image mosaicking (OrthoVista).

Eurimage Signs new Framework Supply Contract with the EC

Eurimage has been awarded a framework supply contract by the European Commission Joint Research Center (EC-JRC) for the provision of satellite remote sensing data to European Institutions Services over the coming years. The contract covers world-wide data from QuickBird (and future WorldView1), Landsat and ASTER satellites, to a maximum of 7 million (of which 6 million for QuickBird and WorldView1) for a total of 4 years. Satellite data will be mainly provided for the Commissions agricultural Control with Remote Sensing Campaign (CwRS), an operational project Eurimage has been supporting since early the nineties. Satellite data, and in particular world-wide QuickBird very high resolution imagery, will be also supplied to meet the Commissions increasing requirements in support of EU security and humanitarian aid programmes.

Trimble Equips Second Polish Government Agency with GPS Technology

Trimble has supplied 271 GeoXT rugged GPS handheld receivers to Polands Plant Health and Seed Inspection Services (PHSIS), a national government agency. This purchase follows an earlier sale of 156 GeoExplorer units to Polands agency for Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture in early 2005.

3-D Map Greater London from BlueSky

Microsoft Acquires Vexcel

Microsoft confirmed the acquisition of Vexcel. It is Microsofts second deal in the past six months for its Virtual Earth business unit. The purchase was done to enhance the talent, technologies, products and services dedicated to fulfilling Microsofts broad vision for best-of-breed local search and mapping solutions for consumers, businesses and government. Vexcel employees become Microsoft employees and will be part of Microsofts Virtual Earth business unit.

East View Cartographic to Produce Maps of Afghanistan's Uruzgan Province

East View Cartographic has been contracted by the Royal Netherlands Army Geographic Agency to produce new 1:50,000 scale topographic maps of Uruzgan province in Afghanistan. The maps will initially support Dutch military deployments in the region as responsibility for this province is handed off from US troops. East View Cartographic was selected for the project on the basis of its established reputation as a trusted source for and producer of worldwide topographic map products at all scales.

Distributor Partnership PCI Geomatics and TGIS Technologies

PCI Geomatics signed a strategic distributor partnership with TGIS Technologies allowing PCI Geomatics to market, distribute, and sell the TGIS real-time GeoConferenceT Software. TGIS Technologies, a Canadian owned and operated business, built GeoConference to allow users to hold Internet teleconferences based on multi-source geospatial information. This solution allows groups to capture, preserve, and reuse geographic information, track and coordinate resources and interventions, and transmit geospatial data in real-time for effective, enterprise-wide decision making.

BlueSky announced a new 3D digital map of the whole of Greater London. Captured using the LiDAR distance measurement system, the aircraft-mounted laser technology determines accurate heights of land and buildings. The map is already proving to be a valuable tool for flood mapping, terrorist threat assessment and environmental modelling. The digital data, which provides height above sea level readings every metre with an accuracy of 15 centimetres, was created by Infoterra and is now being made available commercially by BlueSky.

Eurolink Selects MapInfo Confirm

The MapInfo Confirm infrastructure management solution has been selected by Eurolink, a leading European construction consortium to manage the M4/M6 Kilcock to Kinnegad motorway, the first PPP highways project in Ireland. The construction, operation and maintenance of the 27 year PPP contract was undertaken by Eurolink at a cost of several hundred million euros. The development comprises a state-of-the-art highway covering 36km of motorway, 4km of standard duel carriageway, 17km of side roads, six junctions and 36 significant structures (underpasses, over-bridges, river culverts etc).

GISFocus-Group Acquires KORDAB International AB

GISFocus group announced the acquisition of KORDAB International AB. The GISFocus-group, mother company of ESRI Sweden, ESRI Finland, LandFocus and Meldis, provides solutions for improving organizations effectiveness with GIS software which supports operations, planning, and better decisions. KORDAB International, with the product GEOSECMA, is a provider of information systems for planning and facility management for local government in Sweden but also with a market position in Poland and Lithuania. GEOSECMA compliments well the product portfolio of the GISFocus-group.

Business Partnership Pictometry and LPA Systems

Pictometry and LPA Systems have formed a business partnership. Under terms of the partnership agreement, Pictometry will market a joint solution that integrates LPA Eco-View infrared analysis software with the company's professional GIS software. The end result is an easy-to-use analytical tool for improved environmental monitoring and planning.

Trimble to Acquire Eleven Technology

Trimble has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Eleven Technology, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts in an all-cash transaction. Eleven Technology is a mobile application software company with a leading market and technology position in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. Closing of the transaction, anticipated before midMay, is subject to usual and customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Trimble Acquires Assets of BitWyse Solutions

Trimble has acquired the assets of privately-held BitWyse Solutions, Inc. of Salem, Massachusetts in an all-cash transaction. BitWyse is a data management company specializing in 2D and 3D software applications for engineering and construction plant design. Financial terms were not disclosed. The

Laser-Scan Scores in Indonesia

Laser-Scans reseller for South East Asia, Credent Technology, announces that Badan Pertanahan


June 2006

Industry News
Success for POLICE Applications from STAR Informatic
Eleven departments in Belgium are already equipped with STAR Informatics new POLICE solution. The application automatically produces maps and plans of the incident with full symbology and scaling tools. It also allows alternative routes to be planned in case of serious incidents. other data collection applications. Geomatics Solutions is headquartered in Kiev, Ukraine. IKONOS, OrbView and future GeoEye-1 satellites. With this contract, European Space Imaging will remain the European Commissions largest provider of VHR satellite imagery. The bulk of the imagery will be received and processed at European Space Imagings own satellite tasking and ground processing center at the German Aerospace Centers premises in Oberpfaffenhofen, just outside Munich. From there, data is delivered to customers across Europe minutes after collection using high-speed fiber optic lines.

ER Mapper Brings Satellite Imagery to all Shell Desktops

ER Mapper announced the rollout of a new software solution for Shell Exploration and Production that makes Shell's twelve terabyte archive of satellite imagery available to users throughout the world. The solution was built by ER Mapper's Enterprise Services Team and features the Image Web Server product, which uses patented image compression and serving technologies to provide a fast and responsive system, even when serving very large images to many users. Using a web browser, users simply zoom to a particular location to see the list of images available for that area. They can then ask for information about the images, examine them, compare them with others, and if desired, bring them directly into desktop applications like ER Mapper's image processing product, Microsoft Word or ESRI's ArcGIS product.

Applanix Chooses INPHO for DSS 322 Airborne Digital Sensor Data Processing
Applanix has chosen the INPHO suite of software tools as the recommended workflow to produce directly georeferenced digital orthophoto products with the Applanix DSS 322 digital aerial camera solution. INPHO software provides DSS users with a seamless, linear, and automatic process for transforming digital aerial images into complete orthorectified georeferenced data products. The INPHO digital orthophoto production workflow in conjunction with the Applanix DSS consists of an automatic digital terrain model (DTM) from DSS stereo pair generation environment MATCH-T), a quality assurance and editing component for DTM data (DTMaster Stereo), and an orthophoto production and mosaicking module (OrthoMaster and OrthoVista). When an existing DTM is available, only the OrthoMaster and OrthoVista products are required to produce full orthomosaic products.

ER Mapper Appoints Guy Perkins as CEO
ER Mapper announced the appointment of Guy Perkins as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ER Mapper's global operations. Until recently, Perkins was Vice-President of ER Mapper Asia-Pacific. Perkins replaces Stuart Nixon who will continue with ER Mapper as Founder and will concentrate on strategic projects and deep research for the next generation of imagery solutions. Perkins has held a number of key leadership positions during his career. A leading figure of the GIS community, Mr Perkins has over 20 years of experience in the Geospatial industry. He was involved with Australia's Spatial Information Action Agenda and was a founding Director of the Australian Spatial Information Business Association (ASIBA). He worked with ESRI Australia and ESRI South Asia for 15 years and later spent another 2 years with MapInfo.

Upgrade GE Mapping System to Smallworld Software for City of Leuven

GE Energy has upgraded the digital map system for the city of Leuven, Belgium. GE Energy migrated the G@lileo system to GEs Smallworld 4 portfolio of products including Smallworld Core Spatial Technology, based on the new Application Framework (SWAF) architecture, Smallworld Internet Application Server (SIAS) and Smallworld Spatial Intelligence (SSI) software.

OGC and IAI to Work Together

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to strengthen open standards based interoperability between systems used by the building infrastructure community and the broader geospatial, architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) and information technology (IT) communities. Initially, the two organizations will assess member interest in advancing the creation, testing, and implementation of open standards to improve the sharing of XML based Industry Foundation Class XML (ifcXMLIFC) building models and Geography Markup Language (GML) geography models in the AEC and geospatial user communities.

Stan Moll Joins the DAT/EM Systems International Sales Team

DAT/EM Systems International welcomes Stan Moll to its sales team. Moll joins DAT/EM Systems from AeroMap U.S., where he served for more than nine years as the Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing Program Manager. Moll has a Masters degree in Economic Geology and Remote Sensing from Colorado State University, and a Bachelors degree in Geology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to joining AeroMap U.S. he was a senior scientist with the US Geological Surveys EROS Data Center in South Dakota and Alaska.

Leica Geosystems Announces Acquisition of Scanlaser

Hexagon and Leica Geosystems announce the acquisition of Scanlaser AB in Sweden and Scanlaser AS in Norway. Scanlaser is a leading system integrator for machine automation solutions in Scandinavia and Poland. The companies provide sales, assembly and support services for machine automation systems for construction machines as well as a wide range of stand-alone laser products for the building and construction industry. Scanlaser was already a long-time distribution partner for Leica Geosystems GPS products, which the company integrated into their high-end 3D machine automation solutions. Scanlaser AB and Scanlaser AS have a combined turnover of approximately 120 MSEK and over the last years have shown an average growth of about 35 percent per annum. The companies results will be consolidated from 1 May 2006 and will immediately contribute to Hexagons and Leica Geosystems earnings. The two companies will remain independent and will continue to be managed by their respective management teams who will directly report into the Group Sales Region EMEA within Leica Geosystems. Scanlaser has 36 employees working out of nine locations in Sweden, Norway and Poland.

GEODIS RO new Topcon Distributor in Romania

Topcon Europe Positioning BV will transfer all its positioning sales and support activities for Romania to the newly-formed company GEODIS RO S.R.L., a fully- owned subsidiary of Geodis Brno, spol. s r.o., Topcons long-term partner. Geodis Brno has been Topcons exclusive partner in the Czech and Slovak Republics for over 15 years. It is the leading supplier of positioning solutions and has become one of Topcons major partners in Europe. With this agreement, Topcon aims to provide its customers with a strong basis for further expansion of its sales and support capabilities for positioning products in Romania.

DAP Technologies Announces Sales and Marketing Appointments

DAP Technologies enhanced its senior management team with the appointment of Benot Masson to the position of Director of Marketing, and the promotion of Brian Aldham to Director of Public Utility Sales. DAP designs and manufactures computers for a range of demanding industries including Utilities, Field Service, Emergency Services, Public Safety, Energy, Transportation and Logistics.

Thales Signs Distribution Agreement for the Ukraine

Thales Navigation signed a distribution agreement for its land survey and GIS product distribution in the Ukraine with Geomatics Solutions. Geomatics Solutions will sell the Thales Z-Max and ProMark land survey systems and the Thales MobileMapper Pro and MobileMapper CE handheld GPS receivers for geographic information system (GIS) and many

European Space Imaging and European Commission Sign new Contract

European Space Imaging (EUSI) has been awarded a new framework contract for the supply of global Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite imagery. The contract was signed on April 5, 2006 and is valued at 11.4 million EUR (14.5 million USD) over the next four years. The imagery will be collected by the

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June 2006