FIG Commission 5 - Positioning and Measurement

Term 2003-2006

Highlights Commission Chair
The work of Commission 5 on Positioning and Measurement deals with the acquisition of accurate and reliable data related to the position, size and shape of natural and artificial features of the earth and its environment and including variation with time. The Commission’s work includes the science of measurement (instrumentation, methodology and guidelines).  Mr. Matt Higgins, Australia

Positioning and Measurement answers our clients questions involving the word, “where?” As such, the discipline of Positioning and Measurement is at the core of the surveying profession and legitimizes our claim as a major player in all things spatial.

During my term as Chair, the Commission 5 Steering Committee has built on the excellent work of my predecessor Jean-Marie Becker by continuing core activities related to Standards, Calibration, Geospatial Reference Frames and Integrated Positioning and Mapping Systems. We have also given the Commission a more strategic focus by deepening and better organising our cooperation with sister associations and to develop a new area of cooperation with a United Nations organisation relevant to Commission 5.


Commission 5 achievements during the period from 2003 to 2006 can be summarised as:

  • Fulfilment of the Commission Work Plan through significant Working Group achievements outlined below;
  • Creation of a new MoU with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs;
  • Re-invigoration of the existing MoU with the International Association of Geodesy, including the establishment of a joint liaison committee to oversee ongoing cooperation;
  • Development of a Cooperation Agreement with the US based Institute of Navigation;
  • For 2005 and 2006, I was a member of FIG Council representing the Advisory Committee of Commission Officers (ACCO – all ten Commissions)
  • Throughout this period, Commission 5 consistently ranked in the top 3 Commissions for the number of papers submitted to Working Weeks and Regional Conferences.
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.


Rudolf Staiger
e-mail: rudolf.staiger[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).
  • 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 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 the increased use of GNSS for height determination and the use of geoid models etc for connection to local height datums.
  • Examine the increasing role of aerial and space based imagery in the realisation of reference frames.


Cyril Romieu (France), e-mail: romieu[at]
Mikael Lilje (Sweden), e-mail: mikael.lilje[at] 
Lars E Engberg (Sweden)

Working Group 5.3 Integrated Positioning, Navigation and Mapping Systems

Policy issues

Policy Issues include the following:

  • 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.


Dr. Naser El-Sheimy (Canada), e-mail naser[at]

Working Group 5.4 - Cost Effective Surveying Technology and Techniques for Developing Countries
(A Joint Working Group of Commissions 3, 5 and 7)

Policy Issues

To identify more cost effective ways to improve the availability and accessibility of tools of land information. To suggest these methods to aid more effective planning, development and management of the environment. Also to develop innovation, adaptation and resourcefulness in simplifying these tools to fit the local situation.


Dan Schnurr MSc MRICS (United Kingdom), e-mail: info[at]