FIG Commission 5 - Positioning and Measurement

Term 2007-2010

Highlights Commission Chair
In 2009 Commission 5 – Position and Measurement has effectively used FIG events or symposia and our existing relationship with sister or like organisations to fulfil the objectives of our work plan and the needs of members. The focus on spaced based measuring techniques such as GNSS observations or satellite imagery continues to expand into non traditional surveying applications. Mr. Rudolf Staiger, Germany

 For example, positioning and geodetic systems that were once specific for land administration are now emerging as integral infrastructure for other industries such as machine guidance, asset and resource supervision, and disaster management. There was also a renewed vigour and interest into global observing systems to assist with the monitoring and measurement of the earth’s dynamics and the changes that are occurring as a result global movement.

Although these were popular topics in 2009, the technical fundamentals of positioning and measurement such as instrument calibration, network adjustments, standards / best practice guidelines, transformations, and new observing or processing techniques were also prevalent themes at Commission 5 related conferences or workshops.

Work Plan

Terms of reference

  • The science of measurement (instrumentation, methodology and guidelines)
  • The acquisition of accurate and reliable survey data related to the position, size and shape of natural and artificial features of the earth and its environment and including variation with time.

Mission statement

  • Focus on modern technologies and technical developments and assist individual surveyors, through guidelines and recommendations, to choose and utilise those methods, technologies and instruments that are most appropriate to different applications.
  • Follow technical developments through collaboration with other FIG commissions and other international organisations; participation in appropriate meetings; and the preparation of appropriate publications.
  • Support research and development and stimulate new ideas in the fields of expertise represented within the commission.
  • Collaborate with manufacturers on the improvement of instrumentation and associated software.
  • Present and promote the work of the commission and its working groups on an on-going basis at FIG working weeks and other relevant technical meetings and in appropriate FIG and other media.

Work Plan

Key documents



Working Groups

Working Group 5.1 - Standards, Quality Assurance and Calibration

Policy Issues

  • Influence the development of standards affecting positioning and measurement instruments and methods, in collaboration with the FIG task force on standards and through participation in the relevant technical committees (TCs) of the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and other appropriate bodies.
  • Acceptance controls, quality assurance and certification and their impact on the surveying profession.
  • Checking and calibration of measuring instruments.
  • Assist other Commission Working Groups to implement Standards from ISO TC211 as appropriate.


David Martin
E-mail: martin[at]

Working Group 5.2 - Reference Frame in Practice

Policy issues

Policy Issues include the following:

  • Work to bring together all organisations involved in defining or using reference frames to develop common approaches and avoid duplication. Such organisations include FIG, IAG, ISO, groups of national mapping agencies, other influential national agencies (such as the US DoD's NIMA) and alliances of commercial organisations (such as Open GIS Consortium and the European Petroleum Survey Group).
  • Continue the existing co-operation with IAG on AFREF as well as facilitate similar actions on other continents as South America and ASIA.
  • Provide background technical information on relevant issues written in a way that is accessible to the surveying practitioners.
  • Develop an inventory of approaches to reference frame issues in different countries (including transformation methodologies) that is accessible to surveying practitioners.
  • Examine the concepts of dynamic and semi-dynamic datums.
  • Examine how surveying practitioners are changing how they access the reference frame, through less emphasis on networks of ground monuments and more emphasis on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) base stations.
  • Examine global positioning services as Omnistar and the use of them for positioning in a national reference frame
  • Examine the increased use of GNSS for height determination as well as the use of geoid models for connection to local height datums.
  • Examine the role that the satellite missions GRACE, GOCE and CHAMP will have on global geoid models
  • Examine the increasing role of aerial and space based imagery in the realisation of reference frames. 

More about the Working Group



 Mikael Lilje


Working Group 5.3 - Integrated Positioning, Navigation and Mapping Systems

Policy issues

While this is a new focus, it includes the topics covered by the previous Working Groups 5.3 and 5.4 and extends to cover technology generally.

  • Issues associated with ongoing and rapid developments in Integrated Positioning, Navigation, and Mapping systems, including performance and applications of such systems and guidelines for their use.
  • Ensuring FIG input to planning associated with programs of GPS Modernisation and GNSS Development.


Andrew Hunter
E-mail: ahunter[at]

Naser El-Sheimy
E-mail: naser[at]

Working Group 5.4 - GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems

Policy issues

  • Cooperation with all organisation involved in the field of GNSS e.g. IAG and ISO
  • Keeping contact to GNSS receiver and equipment manufactures to provide state-of-the-art information to the users
  • Cooperation with Commisions 3, 4, 6 and 8 regarding GNSS integration into GIS respectively GNSS for disaster risk management as well as GNNS applicatiosn in hydrography and engineering surveys
  • Providing technical GNSS background information on relevant issues for surveying practioners by web-page, tutorials and workshops
  • Development of recommendations regarding procedures to check GNSS equipment
  • Contribute to FIG input to GPS modernisation and GNSS development
  • Prepare the surveying profession for GNSS-mass-markets (e.g. Location based services, traffic applications,…) as well as required technologies (e.g. assisted GPS, car navigation technology,..)


Dr.-Ing.habil. Volker Schwieger
E-mail: volker.schwieger[at]