FIG Working Week 2000, 21-26 May, Prague

New Technical Standards Improving the Quality in Positioning and Measurement

by Jean-Marie Becker, Hansbert Heister and Vaclav Slaboch

Key words: ISO and CEN Standards, Surveying Instruments, Checking, Testing, Calibration.


1. Introduction

This paper informs about the latest development in the field of survey instruments and survey methods. These are characterised by introduction of new information technology. Nowadays these new technologies are represented mainly by GPS, Total Stations, Electronic Levels, RTK, Laser Instruments and other new measuring devices. The new instruments resulted in a revolution in positioning characterised mainly by increased accuracy, speed and seemingly simple use. But these "advantages" may hide some dangers and traps which must not be neglected, and which might in the end lead to degradation of surveying profession.
Possibility to achieve practically "any degree of accuracy and speed" could result in unnecessary increase of cost of positioning and in saturation of GIS data basis.

A comfortable and easy operation of the electronic "black boxes" could lead to underestimation of operator’s qualification and consequently to blunders resulting in enormous losses with the clients.

One of the ways to escape out of these traps of modern technology is standardisation. Here we want to mention three main areas which in our opinion are most relevant to the tasks of positioning and where the most important changes have been made:

  • standards for survey equipment
  • standards for laboratory calibration and testing
  • standards for positioning within the family of standards for geographic information and geomatics.
2. Standards for Survey Equipment

Existing ISO activities concerning survey instruments are concentrated in several technical Commissions (TC59/SC4 a TC172/SC6). Unfortunately the existing standards are taking into account either the construction or manufacture points of view only. Since 1997 a Joint Working Group for both TC`s have been created with the aim to prepare for approval a new set of standards for "Field Procedures for Determining the Accuracy of Surveying Instruments". A draft proposal of this "new" standard is now ready and has been sent to national standard organisation for approval.

3. Standards for Laboratory Calibration and Testing

Unfortunately not all the Standards allow checking, testing and calibration to be carried out uniquely in the field. In many instances engagement of metrological procedures is required. The application of metrological procedures is justified also by new aspects of Quality Management as required by Standards ISO 9000 and also by increasing complexity of measuring systems which are reflected in completely new methods of calibration.

There are many excellent geodetic laboratories for testing and calibration of survey instruments, but not all of them comply with the metrological confirmation system as defined by ISO 10 012/1. The traditional methods for checking, testing and calibration of the major part of geodetic instruments are partly or totally outdated. New instruments have to be tested as complete systems consisting of interconnected sensors, firmware, application software, data acquisition, data transfer and user interface. To establish reliable procedures for calibration a continuous dialogue between the surveyors and metrologists is indispensable.

4. Standards for Positioning Geographic Information

Activities on Standards related to positioning of Geographic Information are being treated mainly by ISO/TC 211 and by CEN/TC 287. Most of the pre-standards are now completed or short before completion. If we consider that according to GIS specialist over 80 % of all activities on global, national and regional level have spatial or geographic aspect it is no surprise that the initiative for standardisation in this field came from the GIS experts and not from surveyors. The most important documents are ISO/WD 15045-11.8 Geographic Information/Geomatics – Part 11: "Spatial Referencing by Co-ordinates" and pre-standard ENV 12762:1998: Geographic Information – Referencing Direct Position". The increasing adoption of modern survey instruments and namely GPS for positioning and navigation makes it necessary for surveying profession to ensure national and international standards for geo-referencing and spatial co-ordinate positioning. These standards are ensured by Control Networks, Grid Transformation and Geoid Models. GPS and Global aspects will prevail in the long term.

5. Conclusion

Since 1995 FIG WW in Berlin FIG has established liaison with ISO/TC 211 Geographic Information/Geomatics. In 1998 FIG Task Force for Standards was created and FIG Commission 5 "Positioning and Measurement" included in its working plan activities dealing with Standards, Quality Assurance and Calibration. The mission of the FIG in this field is to adapt the new standards to modern surveying technologies and technical developments and to assist individual surveyors to select optimum procedure for given tasks.

Prof. Jean-Marie Becker
National Land Survey of Sweden
S-801 82 Gävle

Prof. Hansbert Heister
UNIBW München
D-85577 Neubiberg

Dr. Vaclav Slaboch
Research Institute of Geodesy
Topography and Cartography
CZ-250 66 Zdiby 98

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