Monday, March 12, 2012

The American Surveyor Vol 9 No 1

Editorial: The 3D Train
The winds of change continue to blow, and blow they did in Denver. At the January 2012 International LiDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) we proudly launched our latest venture, LiDAR Magazine, the only contemporary geo-publication dedicated solely to LiDAR technology. ILMF, now in its 12th year, attracted more ....Read the Article


BIM Gets a Boost
The 1.2 million-square-foot Music City Center in Nashville will have plenty of design features and spaces for visitors to talk about when it is scheduled to open in February 2013: The multifunction exhibit hall covers 350,000 square feet, or about eight acres; the grand ballroom contains 57,500 square feet and the junior ballroom ....Read the Article
Knowledge is Not Enough—Interview With Ken Mooyman
Forget about the bears. Beware of the mating geese. These were the solemn words Ken Mooyman, President of Leica Geosystems NAFTA, heard 30 years ago the first time he was dropped off by a helicopter in the wilds of Northern Quebec for a three-day stretch. Armed with only a tent, sleeping bag, canteens, books, ....Read the Article
Frames for the Future: New Datum Definitions for Modernization of the U.S. NSRS (1 of 4)
In 2008, the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) released its 10-Year Plan (NGS, 2008). In that plan, NGS describes the replacement of the two national datums currently in use. These are the horizontal datum (the North American Datum of 1983, or NAD 83) and the vertical datum (the North American Vertical Datum of 1988, or NAVD 88). Note that NAD 83 (1986) was originally a ....Read the Article
RTN-­101 (Part 16): A Decade of RTN
Has it really been ten years? Did RTNs really catch on? Does this RTN thing really work? In answer to all three questions, yes! Network corrected real-time high precision GNSS for surveying (and a great many other uses) has endured for its first full decade. Did RTNs revolutionize surveying and real-time GNSS? Perhaps ... Read the Article
Footsteps: United States v. Milner
The 2009 case of United States v. Milner demonstrates important common law principles related to tidal boundaries. It also offers interesting insights into the law and the balance courts try to strike in deciding the law. The struggle for balance as it relates to private property rights and the rights of society as a whole are clearly demonstrated in this case. Several events led to ...Read the Article
Vantage Point: Operating Wirelessly
Carl Nelson is a lot like many of us, hooked to his electronics and living efficiently by multi-tasking. Unfortunately for him, he got caught at it. On December 28, 2009, Mr. Nelson was ticketed by a police officer in Richmond, California for infraction of state law that prohibits use of a wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle, unless the phone is configured for ...Read the Article
Canoes and Saying No: I have just read the latest issue of The American Surveyor magazine and have the following comments. 1) Denny and Delores DeMeyer's article "Voyage of the Koo Koo Sint & Paddle Song" is incorrect in the statement that David Thompson was the first person to survey and map the Columbia River in 1811. It seems to me that Lewis & Clark surveyed ....Read the Article

The American Surveyor Vol 8 No 9


Editors Corner:
What A(nother) Year!
By Marc Cheves, LS


Metrorail Team
One of the first reflectorless measurement road surface monitoring projects in the U.S. utilizes technology to minimize hazards.
By Joseph Betit, PS, and Craig S. Hewes, PS


Intersecting Paths of Success
The magazine visits three surveyors, one Chinese GNSS expert and import/export specialist, and three companies, all in Atlanta.
By Marc Cheves, PS


Indelible Imprints—A GNSS Memoir
Dr. Javad Ashjaee recounts the origins of the cooperation between Russia and America that brought GLONASS to the precise community.
By Dr. Javad Ashjaee


Digitally Preserving a Wahi Pana
In late 2010 CyArk embarked on an effort to bring the world a Hawai’i beyond beaches and snorkeling.
By Justin Barton


Footsteps: Vision Church v. Village of Long Grove
Zoning, land use, and annexation are examined in this installment.
By Landon Blake, PS


Vantage Point: About Face
Location, location location, and how it affects zoning.
By Wendy Lathrop, LS, CFM


Reconnaissance: Trials and Tribulations
One state’s process for handling complaints against surveyors.
By Gary Kent, PS

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The American Surveyor Vol 8 No 8

Editorial: Polarization
The ninth meeting of the Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing advisory board, held in Alexandria VA on November 9, 2011 was widely anticipated as a "showdown" between the anti- and pro-LightSquared forces. While the meeting scored points for both sides, it left unanswered some of the most important issues: the upper spectrum band, and who will pay. Those who are just now ....Read the Article
Voyage of the Koo Koo Sint & Paddle Song
In 1811, David Thompson, surveyor and fur trader for the North West Company reached the Pacific Ocean, adding the Columbia River as the final leg of the Fur Trade Highway from Hudson's Bay and Montreal to the Pacific Ocean and becoming the first person to survey and map the Columbia River from its source near Invermere, British Columbia to its ....Read the Article
Rendezvous 2011—Altered Contours
From sometime around 1000 BC through 500 AD, natives piled great quantities of dirt into all shapes and configurations within the valley of the great river. What was the purpose of these mounds of fill shaped over fifteen hundred years in the south-central region of present day Ohio-- Religion? Artistic expression? A means of hunting, securing necessary ....Read the Article
Vantage Point: A Homeowner's Setback
Minnesota's Supreme Court recently struck down earlier decisions favoring a homeowner's complaint against the local city for errors related to the homeowner's shed. While Dr. Rajbir Sarpal and his wife Dr. Carol Sarpal had prevailed in the district and appellate courts, this May 2011 opinion (797 N.W.2d 18) remands the case back to district court, primarily regarding the point of equitable ... Read the Article
Footsteps: Finding the Courage to Say "No"
My father died in May. He was 52. The loss of someone close to you, especially your father, forces you to examine your life. You ask, "Am I following the moral principles that I was raised with, even when I'm under pressure to compromise?" This loss in my life and three recent situations I observed in my career as a land surveyor have prompted me to write this article. Boundary surveying is a branch of ...
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Conference Review: CGSIC and ION 2011—GPS-Greater than the Sum of its Parts
The 51st Meeting of the CGSIC and the ION GNSS 2011 was held September 19-23, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. I can think of no better combination of conferences that serves to illustrate (to paraphrase Aristotle) how the "whole" of GPS/GNSS is certainly "greater than the sum of its parts". These two events are "the" place to interact directly with the constellation operators, policy makers ...Read the Article
Data Mine—From Limestone Mine to National Archives Storage
Imagine you are charged with this task: Accurately survey the interior of a limestone mine cut into the base of a bluff­a cave with vast expanses, irregular surfaces and no light. Collect data on enough individual points to create a meaningful model of the space so that it can be designed and built for warehousing and storage. The challenge would be ....Read the Article
A Colonial Surveyor in President Jefferson's Public Lands
My apologies to Mark Twain, as in parts of my journey to obtain CFedS Certification I felt like the Connecticut Yankee, in King Arthur's Court, but in reverse. That is, I was the learner and my predecessors were the teachers. Also, my appreciation for American Surveyor Magazine's motto "A Foot in the Past...An Eye to the Future" prompted me to write about the journey that I recently ....Read the Article

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The American Surveyor Vol 8 No 7

Editorial: Putting the Lean On Manufacturing—A Visit to Topcon
The manufacturing area of Topcon's US headquarters in Livermore, California was a veritable beehive of activity during my recent visit. Colin Kavanagh, Senior VP for Operations, called attention to the "lean" manufacturing processes that have "eliminated expenditures for resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer". To achieve this, Topcon cast a critical eye on ....
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Surveying with Google Earth
Over the past few years, I have become convinced that Google Earth represents an extraordinary opportunity to visualize and communicate survey data, though I too was skeptical of its value as a professional land surveying tool in the beginning. At the time, Metzger + Willard, Inc. (MWI) was making AutoCAD base maps with orthophotos in the vicinity of NGS control stations. Our reasoning was that, equipped with ....
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Conference Review: Hexagon User Conference 2011
What is Hexagon and what is the business of Hexagon? A company that decades ago was "importing tuna fish," according to CEO Ola Rollén, is now a key international player in geospatial products and services, metrology, design and process; this by acquiring and integrating a long list of established companies successful in their own ....
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Driving the Islands
When the Public Works department for Washington state's San Juan County was challenged with identifying and mapping roadside assets in an effort to improve traffic safety, it responded by sending out crews with hand-held GPS units. They quickly realized both the scope such a project entailed and the overall inefficiency of using that technique. Knowing the importance of the effort, however ...
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How Precise is OPUS? Part 3: The Rest of the Story
This is the third of three articles discussing the precision obtainable with the Online Positioning User Service (OPUS) offered by NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS). The first two articles appeared in preceding issues of this magazine. OPUS is a Web-based utility available at to which surveyors and others can ...
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Footsteps: Changes to the 2009 Manual of Surveying Instructions
In a previous article, published online in June 2011, I discussed why the 2009 update to the Manual of Surveying Instructions was needed and how the BLM implemented it. The article is available in the Amerisurv Exclusive Online section of The American Surveyor website at What follows here are highlights of some of those changes in the 2009 edition of ...
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Vantage Point: Noticing a Dirty Past
Accutherm, Inc. manufactured thermometers containing mercury in Franklinville, New Jersey until 1994. It notified the state's Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) of its ceased operations, NJDEP issued cleanup orders to Accutherm, and when Accutherm didn't comply, the site was referred to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an assessment. The EPA's 1996 report ....
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Surveying `Da Situation: An Unexpected Gift
I believe we have all heard stories or had personal experiences of feeling as though someone close that we have lost reached out to touch us in some way. I had just that kind of experience recently. Back in the mid 1960s, my Dad was a deputy in the local sheriff's department. He had that job for several years until he found another one that paid a little better and freed up his weekends. Well, the county ....
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The American Surveyor Vol 8 No 6

Editors Corner:
Do You Depend on GPS to Make Money?
By Marc Cheves, LS


Surveyors on a Busman’s Holiday
In their time off, a group of surveyors investigate an interesting jog in a state boundary.
By Paul Hoinowski

The Elevation Certificate Translated (Part 2 of 2)
Our flood plain experts continue with their instructions for filling out the form.
By C. Barton Crattie, LS, CFM and Wendy Lathrop, LS, CFM

The Javad GNSS Triumph V.S.
Our Nashville correspondent examines the latest offering from Javad Ashjaee.
By Clifton Ogden, EI, LSIT

Conference Review: The Second Optech Innovative LiDAR Solutions Conference
LiDAR technology continues to boldly move forward.
By Gene Roe, LS, PE, PhD

How Precise is OPUS? (Part 2 of 3)
Experts from NGS examine available precision estimates.
By Richard Snay, Kevin Choi, Gerald Mader, Charles Schwarz, Tomás Soler and Neil Weston

Reconnaissance: Developments and Questions Regarding the New 2011 ALTA/ACSM Standards
Our ALTA expert shines more light on the new Standards.
By Gary Kent, LS

Earthquake in Christchurch
A land surveyor shares his eyewitness account of the unexpected quake that struck Christchurch during his visit to New Zealand.
By Malcolm Anderson, FRICS, FCInstCES (ret.)

Surveyors Report: The Face of Surveying
A Louisiana surveyor provides a history of the national organizations and a possible way forward for the future. J. Anthony Cavell, LS, CFedS
By J. Anthony Cavell, LS, CFedS