Surveying, Mapping and GIS

Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development and enterprise architecture...

  • Geospatial Technology, End to End...

    Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development, enterprise architecture and policy

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/24/2005 07:33:00 AM 0 comments

Hoping everyone out there enjoys their Thanksgiving... I know I certainly have much to be thankful this year...

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EPA Environmental Symposium in Las Vegas

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/21/2005 09:32:00 PM 0 comments

I'm getting ready to attend the 2005 EPA Environmental Symposium at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. We have booth space, and will also be presenting a new version of Window to My Environment, which incorporates MetaCarta geospatially-enabled search technology. We will also be working with Lockheed-Martin and the ITS-ESE team to demonstrate other emergent technologies, like Nirvana Storage Resource Broker for geo-enabled data fusion and InstaKnow ACE.

Things have been very hectic, trying to get a number of deliverables for this and other projects out the door, but I'm looking forward to it...

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Seals, Electronic or Otherwise...

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/16/2005 09:03:00 PM 0 comments

The Pennsylvania registration law states the following:

§ 37.58. Seal. (a) A registrant shall obtain, at the registrant’s own expense, a seal in the design authorized by the Board. The following are Board authorized seals for ‘‘Registered Professional Engineer’’ (Design A), ‘‘Registered Professional Land Surveyor’’ (Design B) and ‘‘Registered Professional Geologist’’ (Design C):

(b) The seal shall contain the legend ‘‘Registered Professional Engineer,’’ ‘‘Registered Professional Land Surveyor’’ or ‘‘Registered Professional Geologist’’ and the registrant’s name and registration number.
(c) The seal shall be 1 3/4 inch in diameter. The diameter of a pocket seal may be reduced to 1 1/2 inch if the design is in the same relative proportions in subsection (a).
(d) A registrant may use a rubber stamp or computer image which is a facsimile of the seal, if the registrant first obtains a seal in accordance with this section.

§ 37.59. Use of seal. The following rules govern the proper use of a registrant’s seal:
(1) A registrant may use his seal and signature only when the work being sealed and signed was prepared by the registrant or under the registrant’s complete direction and control.
(2) When a registrant issues final or complete documents to a client for the client’s records, or when a registrant submits final or complete documents to public or governmental agencies for final review, the seal and signature of the registrant who prepared or who directed and controlled the preparation of the documents, along with the date of issuance, shall be prominently displayed on the first page of all documents. Facsimile seals shall appear on all subsequent pages of plans or plats.
(3) When multiple registrants prepare or direct and control the preparation of documents, each registrant’s seal and signature shall appear on the first page of the documents, or on the first page of the identifiable portion or section of the documents which were prepared or directed and controlled by that registrant, if the respective registrants’ direction and control can be reasonably segregated.
(4) When a registrant’s signature is applied, it shall be applied near or across the seal, but not in a location that obliterates the registration number.
(5) A registrant may not affix or permit a seal and signature to be affixed to a document after the expiration of the registrant’s licensure status, or for the purpose of aiding or abetting another person to evade or attempt to evade a provision of the act or this chapter.
(6) In the case of a temporary permit issued to an engineering, land surveying or geology registrant of another state, the registrant shall use the seal of the registrant’s home state and shall affix his signature and a copy of the temporary permit to work performed in this Commonwealth.

The issue here is that with electronic seals, once the drawing is transmitted to another party with the seal affixed, it becomes easy to lose control over the drawing. Should the drawing be modified, there still may be potential liability isses which may come and find the original surveyor, right, wrong or indifferent. The Pennsylvania Registration Law allows it, however with the implication that proper safeguards be utilized. Currently CAD technology doesn't allow much control over this type of digital sealing. Of course the expectation is also that the drawing should be signed, near or across the seal.

As for me, I still prefer the old-fashioned way- "wet seals". I typically include a note in the title block "this drawing not valid without original seal and signature". Additionally I usually apply a seal using ink in a contrasting color from the print, such as blue ink on blackline, or vice-versa... I usually also sign across the seal similarly in a contrasting color.

Until CAD software can accomodate digital seals and signatures, which can "self-destruct" if the drawing is modified or tampered with, I tend to think better safe than sorry...

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GIS Day: November 16, 2005

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/16/2005 01:00:00 PM 0 comments

GIS Day 2005

GIS Day is a grassroots event that formalizes the practice of geographic information systems (GIS) users and vendors of opening their doors to schools, businesses, and the general public to showcase real-world applications of this important technology. The event is principally sponsored by the National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, the United States Geological Survey, The Library of Congress, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett–Packard, and ESRI.

GIS Day is part of the National Geographic Society's exciting new initiative, Geography Action, which is a year-long initiative encompassing key educational achievements such as GIS Day and Geography Awareness Week. Each year this initiative will have a different focus. The theme for 2005-2006 is "Migration: The Human Journey." In addition to events such as GIS Day and Geography Awareness Week, there will also be many worldwide activities supporting geography action, with their goal being to engage people in learning and caring about geography.

Messy Office?

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/13/2005 12:34:00 PM 0 comments

I just came across an old picture from when I worked at Pennoni, from about 3 years ago... Probably typical, papers, maps, et cetera an inch thick on the desk, miscellaneous gear strewn about:

Of note is the historic Stegmaier Brewery visible directly outside my window, in Wilkes-Barre PA.

So how many of you also have an office that looks like this?

USGS Cartographic Service Contracts

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/11/2005 08:59:00 PM 0 comments

We have been invited to participate in a solicitation for a USGS Cartographic Service Contract. It's great, as a small business, to be recognized for your capabilities and to be included in an opportunity to compete with the "big boys"- typically the ENR 200 firms.

We do plan to respond- we (and I would imagine many other firms) can easily address most aspects of the work, however one component still is the ability to provide imagery- it's not every company that is capable of deploying the aerial or spaceborne platforms and sensors for aerial imagery or other remote sensing imagery... We do have a few tricks up our sleeves, with a network of regional firms that have these conventional capabilities, as well as some advanced technology from some of our friends who do military contracting.

Arizona Registration Board

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/11/2005 03:29:00 PM 0 comments

Per Arizona Revised Statutes Title 41, Section 2954, the Arizona Board of Technical Registration sunsets periodically and must be renewed.

It is my understanding that during this review period, there are hearings and a comment period, and a decision to be made whether to continue, revise, consolidate or terminate the board.

As part of the Pennsylvania board, I would be interested in hearing what perspective Arizona surveyors have on this recurring review process and what kinds of input are typically received.

Historic Surveying Photo 11/11/05

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/11/2005 09:58:00 AM 0 comments

A great vintage photo of a survey party, probably from the turn of the century, found at

Click on the image to see the original full-size version

Teaming: 8(a), SDVOSB and HUBZone Firms

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/11/2005 09:06:00 AM 2 comments

Synergist Technology Group, Inc. is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), and we are looking for teaming partners who are either also small businesses certified as 8(a), SDVOSB, or HUBZone around the country which could complement our skills in surveying, mapping, GIS and environmental information.

We are also looking to forge partnerships with other small and large businesses with specialized skills and equipment, such as firms with LIDAR, Remote Sensing, and other means of airborne and space-based imaging.

Please contact David G. Smith PE PLS, we would be glad to talk.

New GPS Satellites readied

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/11/2005 08:59:00 AM 0 comments

The first of the new GPS IIRs has been launched and is looking good so far, second has been delivered for a January launch

Lockheed Martin Delivers Second Modernized GPS Satellite to Cape Canaveral for January Launch


Date Released: Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Source: Lockheed Martin Corporation

First Satellite Performing Nominally During Critical On-Orbit Test Phase
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT - News) has delivered the second modernized Global Positioning System Block IIR (GPS IIR) satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., where it will be readied for a January launch. The company is in the midst of modernizing a total of eight GPS satellites, designated GPS IIR-M, which will provide significantly improved navigation performance for U.S. military and civilian users worldwide.

The new satellites offer a variety of enhanced features for GPS users, such as a modernized antenna panel that provides increased signal power to receivers on the ground, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal that will provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.

The first modernized GPS-IIR satellite, launched successfully on Sept. 25 from Cape Canaveral, is performing nominally following a series of precision maneuvers and deployment of all spacecraft systems. The team completed on-orbit operations ahead of the planned schedule and turned the spacecraft over to Air Force Space Command's 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) in less than five days, a new record of any GPS satellite.

"The 2nd Space Operations Squadron is excited about the next generation of GPS satellites brought into the constellation," said Lt Col Steve Hamilton, Commander of the 2SOPS. "This was a total team effort by Lockheed Martin as well as other contractors, civil service and the Air Force working together to put these new capabilities on orbit. We're looking forward to a great check out and setting this satellite operational."

The spacecraft is expected to be declared fully operational for military and civilian navigation users around the globe in January 2006 following a special, four-month on-orbit test period for the new military and civilian signals.

"The highly successful launch and rapid on-orbit turnover of the first modernized GPS IIR is the result of a team of dedicated, talented individuals focused on delivering the best quality navigation capabilities to the user," said Dave Podlesney, GPS IIR program director, Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Valley Forge, Pa. "These are the most technologically advanced GPS spacecraft ever built and we look forward to achieving mission success as we prepare to launch another modernized satellite next year."

The Global Positioning System enables properly equipped users to determine precise time and velocity and worldwide latitude, longitude and altitude to within a few meters. Air Force Space Command's 2nd Space Operations Squadron, based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users.

GPS IIR-M production occurs at Lockheed Martin facilities in Valley Forge, Pa. The modernized navigation payload is provided by ITT Industries in Clifton, N.J.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 135,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2004 sales of $35.5 billion.

CONTACT: Steve Tatum of Lockheed Martin, +1-408-742-7531, or

Legislative items of interest

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/10/2005 10:00:00 AM 1 comments


A legislative workshop on Pennsylvania GIS issues will be held at the State College Municipal Building in State College, PA on Thursday, beginning at 10AM. I'm not going to be able to attend, as I will be in Washington, DC for the day...


Thursday, November 10 from 10:00AM – 3:00PM

A variety of reference materials has been compiled and is posted on the PaMAGIC Website.

Some additional documents were added to the website this morning, please include them in your preparations for the Workshop!

As GIS Stakeholders it is important that we understand the content and process of legislation concerned with GIS. Please take time to review the materials and join us tomorrow – or send comments to one of the Board Members (listed above).

State College Borough
Room 214
State College Municipal Building
243 South Allen Street
State College, PA

lunch (pizza) will be provided directions and a map here:

Joyce Frigm and Dan Ruzansky, the Majority and Minority Executive Directors of the House Intergovernmental Relations Committee and Mike King from LORL, will attend to provide technical assistance.

* * * * * * * * *

Update: Might be able to attend after all!

2005 ALTA Standards

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/09/2005 07:17:00 PM 1 comments

New 2005 ALTA/ACSM standards will become effective Jan 1, 2006.

as adopted by American Land Title Association and National Society of Professional Surveyors

Pennsylvania House Bill 496

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/08/2005 11:49:00 AM 0 comments

This bill, which calls for penalties for disturbing survey monuments and for modifying the statute of limitations for Pennsylvania Surveyors is currently active in the Pennsylvania General Assembly:Track this bill and its current status here:



No. 496 Session of 2005

FEBRUARY 14, 2005



1 Amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and
2 Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
3 Statutes, providing for the offense of the destruction of a
4 survey monument; further providing for actions relating to
5 land surveying; and making an editorial change.

6 The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
7 hereby enacts as follows:
8 Section 1. Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
9 Statutes is amended by adding a section to read:
10 § 3311. Destruction of a survey monument.
11 (a) Offense defined.--A person commits a summary offense if
12 he intentionally cuts, injures, damages, destroys, defaces or
13 removes any survey monument or marker. A person commits a
14 misdemeanor of the second degree if he willfully or maliciously
15 cuts, injures, damages, destroys, defaces or removes any survey
16 monument or marker in order to call into question a boundary
17 line.
18 (b) Restitution.--Any person convicted of violating this

1 section shall, in addition to any other penalty imposed, be
2 liable for the cost of the reestablishment of permanent survey
3 monuments or markers by a professional land surveyor and all
4 reasonable attorney fees.
5 (c) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following
6 words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this
7 subsection:
8 "Professional land surveyor." As defined under the act of
9 May 23, 1945 (P.L.913, No.367), known as the Engineer, Land
10 Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law.
11 "Survey monument or marker." Any object adopted or placed by
12 a professional land surveyor to define the boundaries of a
13 property, including, but not limited to, natural objects such as
14 trees or streams, or artificial monuments such as iron pins,
15 concrete monuments, set stones or party walls.
16 Section 2. Section 5537 of Title 42 is amended to read:
17 § 5537. Land surveying.
18 All actions to recover any or all damages against any person
19 engaged in the practice of land surveying occurring as the
20 result of any deficiency, defect, omission, error or
21 miscalculation shall be commenced within [21] 12 years from the
22 time the services are performed. Any such action not commenced
23 within this [21-year] 12-year period shall be forever barred.
24 The cause of action in such cases shall accrue when the services
25 are performed. Furthermore, any action shall be commenced within
26 four years from the time that such cause of action was
27 discovered, but no later than during this [21-year] 12-year
28 limitation period. In any event, no action shall be commenced
29 after the [21] 12 years from the time that the services are
30 performed. The term "practice of land surveying" shall be the

1 same as defined under the act of May 23, 1945 (P.L.913, No.367),
2 known as the [Professional Engineers] Engineer, Land Surveyor
3 and Geologist Registration Law.
4 Section 3. This act shall take effect in 60 days.

Chemist Position in Las Vegas

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/08/2005 11:32:00 AM 0 comments

If you are a Chemist, and are interested in working in Las Vegas, contact me:

Requisition Number: 615910

Date Posted: 10/27/2005

Job Title: Chemist Sr
Job Class: Scientist


Specific Description

Required Skills: BS degree in chemistry or equivalent scientific field plus a minimum of 8 years "hands on" organic compound GC/MS experience (emphaisis upon VOC analysis) using EPA methods (CLP and/or SW-846) and the preparation of data packages or analytical reports. Instrument maintenance, troubleshooting and minor repair skills/expertise are required. Problem solving skills and the ability to work relatively independenty are also required; the candidate must be capable of periodically working extended early morning, evening and weekend hours in a sometimes stressful mobile lab environment. Clear verbal and written communication skills are required as well as the ability to prepare, review and revise analytical methods or SOPs. Must be able to effectively interact in a professional manner with EPA, state and local authorities and the general public in performing field analysis duties. Experience/expertise using field portable instrumentation and/or performing organic compound field analyses in a mobile lab is highly desirable. Experience or familiarity with environmental analysis applications of MS/MS or MS/MS/MS technology is a major plus. OSHA hazardous waste site worker training and emergency response experience are very desirable. Familarity or expertise/experience with air monitoring and sampling procedures and equipment/instrumentation is also desirable. Project management experience/expertise is also desirable. This is a "hands on" senior organic analysis field chemist for a high profile contract with sophisticated mobile labs in Las Vegas, NV and Edison, NJ. The canididate will maintain, calibrate, troubleshoot and perform minor repair to keep field portable instrumentation and mobile lab equipment and instrumentation in a "road ready" state for time critical use during routine air monitoring projects and emergency response situations. The candidate will primarily perform onsite analysis of air samples for VOCs using a field portable GC/MS system and/or a GC/MS system in a sophisticated mobile lab. The candidate's work activities may also involve the maintenance, operation and use of a triple quadrupole MS/MS/MS system to perform real time monitoring of ambient or indoor air for selected VOCs or inorganic analytes such as chlorine or chlorine dioxide. The candiate will prepare detailed data packages and analytical reports for field analyes or monitoring. The candidate may perform analytical method deveolpment/evaluation and prepare and revise field analysis SOPs. The candidate will be periodically be required to perform project management functions and serve as a task leader for routine field analysis projects or emergency responses. Periodic travel throughout the United States is required, sometimes with little advance notice. The candidate may periodically need to work extended early morning, evening and weekend hours in a sometimes stressful mobile lab environment. Successful completion of 40-hour OSHA hazardous waste site worker training is required.

General Position Description

Conducts exploratory research to produce new knowledge and potential products; conceives, organizes, promotes, and executes ideas and plans to increase chemistry's role in and contribution to the discovery and chemical approaches to meet exploratory objectives in product discovery. Develops research proposals to provide a technically and economically sound basis for developing and evaluating new or improved products, processes, and analytical and physical testing techniques. Reports progress of research work and significance of the results. Recommends utilization of the results or changes in the scope of work or termination of projects.

Typical Minimums

Bachelors degree from an accredited college in a related discipline, or equivalent experience/combined education, with 5 years of professional experience; or 3 years of professional experience with a related Masters degree. Considered career, or journey, level.

Work Location: Las Vegas, NV

Clearance Required: NONE

US Citizen or US Permanent Resident status required

Research Scientist in Las Vegas

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/08/2005 11:29:00 AM 0 comments

If you are a scientist with a background in chemistry, and are interested in working in Las Vegas, contact me:

Requisition Number: 616956

Date Posted: 11/01/2005

Job Title: Research Scientist Stf
Job Class: Scientist


Specific Description

Required/Desirable Skills: BS degree in chemistry, environmental science or other relevant scientific field and a minimum of 14 years of "hands on" ambient and indoor air monitoring and sampling experience for a wide variety of inorganic and organic analytes/compounds using EPA, NIOSH, OSHA and ASTM procedures. Extensive onsite air sampling/monitoring experience using level A and level B PPE is required as well as emergency response experience. Significant air monitoring and sampling equipment and instrument maintenance, troubleshooting and minor repair expertise/experience is also required. Personnel supervisory/management skills and experience are mandatory as well as experience/expertise in planning, scheduling and supervising field projects. Project management expertise/experience is required; familiarity with the EPA work assignment process is highly desirable. Problem solving skills and the ability to effectively interact with a wide variety of REAC staff members and EPA (customer), federal, state and local personnel are highly desirable. Effective verbal and written communications skills are essential; report preparation expertise is highly desirable. OSHA 40-hour hazardous waste site worker certification is mandatory; knowledge of DOT hazardous materials shipping regulations is a major plus. Responsibilities: This is a "hands on" senior air sampling and monitoring position for a high profile EPA program. The candidate will also plan, schedule, coordinate and supervise the work activities of 6 to 8 REAC personnel and be responsible for the maintenance, operation and use of a mobile lab with sophisticated analytical instrumentation. The candidate will be reponsible for air monitoring and sampling equipment and instrumentation calibration, maintenance and minor repair and the preparation and maintenance of appropriate documentation (logbooks, etc.) for these activities. The candidate will be responsible for preparing and monitoring budgets, tracking costs, approving the purchase of monitoring and sampling supplies and accessories and preparing a variety of technical reports. A moderate amount of travel is expected often with little advance notice. In the field, the candidate will perform real time monitoring and/or sample collection for a wide variety of hazardous materials using appropriate PPE up to and including level A; the candidate may also supervise other personnel performing similar duties. The hazardous materials may include chemical or biological warfare agents and radionuclides. The candidate will serve as a task leader for onsite field activities including emergency response situations and will be required to prepare work plans and cost estimates. The candidate will need to effectively interact with a variety of EPA, federal, state and local personnel in a professional manner under often stressful field conditions. Successful completion of 40-hour approved OSHA hazardous waste site worker training is required.

General Position Description

Performs scientific experiments, investigations, observations and related research studies into the nature and operation of natural phenomena in a particular field, using the scientific methods. Develops theories for understanding, characterizing and organizing natural phenomena into a systematic and meaningful pattern for the benefit of project advancement and emerging technologies.

Typical Minimums

Bachelors degree from an accredited college in a related discipline, or equivalent experience/combined education, with 9 years of professional experience; or 7 years of professional experience with a related Masters degree. Considered an emerging authority.

Work Location: Las Vegas, NV

Clearance Required: NONE

US Citizen or US Permanent Resident status required.

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Election Day

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/08/2005 07:00:00 AM 0 comments

Today is election day- be sure to get out and vote.


Posted by Dave Smith On 11/07/2005 11:05:00 PM 0 comments

Thinning out my overstuffed bookshelves… Found a few books that I actually had multiple copies of:

Great books for those newly initiated into the GIS arena….

Geocoding Engines

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/07/2005 10:53:00 PM 0 comments

Over the last few years, there has been an ever-increasing number of applications which rely on geocoding of some form or another. Additionally, geocoding providers are making geocoding services available at a number of different levels of service, such as street-level or zipcode-level service.

It seems to me that it would make sense to pursue standardization of geocoding services, by way of XML and web services standard, much as OGC has already done with GML. This would allow applications developers a means of developing components which use third-party geocoding engines to potentially mesh with customers’ existing geocoding providers to allow their customers to leverage their investment, as well as opening up new markets with customers who may be using different geocoding services.

If OGC has not already looked into this, it would certainly be a worthwhile discussion.

The Google Effect

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/07/2005 10:42:00 PM 0 comments

Everyone is hyped on those great panning and dynamic popup effects in Google Maps... In talking with some folks, I have discovered that the principle behind it is AJAX - Asynchronous Javascript and XML, basically client-side calls to a web service.

It seems to me that one could build a web service atop ArcIMS, to serve as the engine- a call to the service would generate a collection of tiles representing the area in question, and surrounding areas currently off-screen. Similarly, the ArcIMS frommappoint function could provide the means for inserting a client-side popup...

The possibilities suddenly become much closer at hand...


Posted by Dave Smith On 11/07/2005 04:37:00 PM 0 comments

We have recently been working with MetaCarta- they provide search engine technology with a twist- as documents are ingested and indexed, the MetaCarta ingest engine also contextually extracts any geographic references and geocodes them- and then stores the geocoded locations with the other indexed data.

What this does is allow the search engine to do a number of additional things that ordinary search engines cannot: for instance restrict its search results to a bounding box or map window, and retrieve only the documents pertaining to that geographic extent- or you could plot the location of all the matching documents on a map as pushpins…

A nice feature of MetaCarta is that they have had the foresight to provide a Web Services interface to their appliance- this allows deep integration into existing applications by using SOAP calls to perform the query- it then is a simple matter to parse the XML response and retrieve the returned document titles, URLs, lat/longs, abstracts, or other parameters.

MetaCarta –