FIG Commission 5 - Positioning and Measurement

Term 2015-2018

Highlights Commission Chair

The Commission 5 2015-18 work plan consists of realising tangible outcomes for our already well-known FIVE missions, which are -

Dr.-Ing.habil. Volker Schwieger
  • FOCUS on modern technologies, technical developments and applications.
  •  FACILITATE and follow technical developments through collaborations with other FIG Commissions and like organisations.
  • FOSTER and support research and development and stimulate new ideas in the fields of expertise represented within the commission.
  • FORMULATE and formalise collaboration with manufacturers on the improvement of instrumentation and associated software.
  • FIG EVENTS - present and promote the work of the Commission and its working groups through technical events and necessary media.

 2.1 WG 5.1 – Standards, Quality Assurance and Calibration

 Standards play an important role in surveying. This is particularly true with modern instrumentation that produces measurements and results from black box solutions not fully understood by the average practicing surveyor. So even if surveyors are not directly implicated, they are implicitly very reliant upon standards underpinning the correct functioning of their instruments.

Working Group 5.1 actively participates in technical sessions, technical seminars and presentations for FIG Working Weeks and Congresses.

Importantly Working Group 5.1 is the contact for FIG liaison to the ISO Technical Commission (TC) 211 ( and Technical Committee ISO/TC 172/SC 6.

ISO TC 211 is concerned with standardization in the field of digital geographic information. This commission aims to establish a structured set of standards for information concerning objects or phenomena that are directly or indirectly associated with a location relative to the Earth. These standards may specify, for geographic information, methods, tools and services for data management (including definition and description), acquiring, processing, analysing, accessing, presenting and transferring such data in digital/electronic form between different users, systems and locations. The work links to appropriate standards for information technology and data where possible, and provides a framework for the development of sector-specific applications using geographic data. At present, Nic Donnelly, from Land Information New Zealand, is the FIG liaison to TC211.

ISO/TC 172/SC 6 deals more closely with the hands on details related to using classical surveying instruments. These standards deal with field procedures for testing geodetic and surveying instruments such as theodolite, total stations levels and GNSS in real-time kinematic (RTK).

A principal aim of Working Group 5.1 remains the examination and promotion of guidelines and recommendations for standards and quality in survey measurements based on the ISO Guide to Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM) and its supplements.

2.2 WG 5.2 – 3D Reference Frames

The role of 3D reference frames as fundamental infrastructure for communities is increasingly recognised, most notably through the 2015 resolution of the United Nations General Assembly entitled A global geodetic reference frame for sustainable development. Robust, accurate and easily-accessible 3D reference frames are critical to support applications such ashazard monitoring and modelling, infrastructure development, land use planning, environmental analysis and cadastral definition. Increasingly, the 3D reference frame is used as a mechanism to conveniently access the vertical orthometric reference frame which is so critical to engineering applications.

Working Group 5.2 is focussed on the 3D reference frame as represented by either geocentric (X, Y, Z) or geographic (latititude, longitude, ellipsoidal height) coordinates. It complements and closely aligns with WG 5.3 – Vertical Reference Frames, which focusses on non-ellipsoidal height systems. Members of this working group are focussed on education and guidance on the practical aspects of implementing and using 3D reference frames. Areas of research and operational interest include deformation modelling, reference frame transformations, GNSS utilization, time-dependent coordinates and reference frame standardization.

2.3 WG 5.3 – Vertical Reference Frames

 Established at the 2014 FIG Congress in Kuala Lumpur, WG5.3 – Vertical Reference Frames (VRF) addresses issues involving heights and height which impact environmental phenomena such as sea level rise, climate change and other geodynamic processes. Practical geodetic issues related to WG5.3 include: relationships and links between land-based vertical datums and ocean tidal datums, gravimetric geoid based national vertical reference systems (or datums), regional and global height system unification, ongoing deterioration of classical vertical control networks, usefulness of existing leveling data, and of course, GNSS heighting. Our aim is to provide tools so that geomatics practitioners can effectively understand and use VRF’s in their day to day work or implement VRF’s in their national jurisdictions.

2.4 WG 5.4 – GNSS

The GNSS working group continues to support international R&D activities in GNSS through participation in the ION Pacific PNT and GNSS+ Meetings, Multi-GNSS Asia Conference, International Symposium on GNSS, INTERGEO and etc. Focus areas are in multi-constellation multi-frequency GNSS precise positioning and efficient delivery of high precision GNSS positioning which includes satellite based augmentation services.

The WG 5.4 also continues to represent FIG at the UN International Committee on GNSS (UN ICG) and contribute towards the activities and recommendations of the UN ICG Working Group D. In addition, the WG is working with IAG contributing towards their effort in enhancing integer ambiguity resolution for multi-GNSS PPP and PPP-RTK.

In 2017, Suelynn Choy was elected as a steering committee member of Multi-GNSS Asia. The key objective of Multi-GNSS Asia is to encourage and promote utilisation and applications of satellite positioning, navigation and timing services in the Asia and Oceania region. This region is a unique place that will see the earliest and highest level of coverage from the new and mondernised GNSS satellites. The WG is actively supporting Multi-GNSS Asia for the upcoming Multi-GNSS Asia Conference to be held in Melbourne, Australia, from 23-25 October 2018. WG 5.4 will participate in the upcoming RTCM SC-104 Meeting in Sydney, Australia, from 5-6 February 2018.

2.5 WG 5.5 – Multi-Sensor-Systems

WG5.5 is a joint working group between FIG and IAG. In 2017 activity centered around multi-sensor systems for GNSS difficult environments. Two specific areas were indoor positioning and autonomous vehicles in urban environments.

A major activity undertaken by members of the joint IAG Working Group WG 4.1.1 and FIG WG 5.5 was field experiments at the Ohio State University In October 2017. These revolved around the concept of collaborative navigation, and partially indoor navigation. Collaborative positioning is an integrated positioning solution which employs multiple location sensors with different accuracy on different platforms for sharing of their absolute and relative localizations. Typical application scenarios are dismounted soldiers, swarms of UAV’s, team of robots, emergency crews and first responders. The stakeholders of the solution (i.e., mobile sensors, users, fixed stations and external databases) are involved in an iterative algorithm to estimate or improve the accuracy of each node’s position based on statistical models. For this purpose different sensor platforms have been fitted with similar type of sensors, such as geodetic and lowcost high-sensitivity GNSS receivers, tactical grade IMU’s, MEMS-based IMU’s, miscellaneous sensors, including magnetometers, barometric pressure and step sensors, as well as image sensors, such as digital cameras and Flash LiDAR, and ultra-wide band (UWB) receivers.

A novel approach for positioning with Wi-Fi was initiated and developed at TU Wien (Vienna University of Technology) under the lead of Guenther Retscher. This approach for localization and tracking of mobile smartphone users is termed Differential Wi-Fi (DWi-Fi) by analogy with DGPS. From reference stations deployed in the area of interest differential measurement corrections are derived and applied at the mobile user side. Hence, range or coordinate corrections can be estimated from a network of reference station observations as it is done in common CORS GNSS networks. A low-cost realization with Raspberry Pi units has been realized for these reference stations. These units serve at the same time as Access Points (APs) broadcasting Wi-Fi signals as well as reference stations scanning the receivable Wi-Fi signals of the surrounding APs. As the RSS measurements are carried out continuously at the reference stations dynamically changing maps of RSS distributions, so-called radio maps, can be derived. The DWi-Fi concept was evaluated in several field campaigns conducted at TU Wien, RMIT University and The University of Melbourne as well as at the Ohio State University.

2.6 WG 5.6 – Cost Effective Positioning

For the WG 5.6 the most important accomplishment of the year 2017 was organizing the Cost Effective Positioning and Geo Data Seminar which took place in Novosibirsk, Russia on 20 April. The primary objective of the Seminar was to shape a vision for the future of cost-effective positioning technologies. The seminar was aimed at bringing developers of precise low-cost solutions, surveyors, and other potential users together. The agenda of the seminar covered both hardware and software solutions. Access to the Seminar was open to all participants of Interexpo Geo-Siberia. The total number of attendees at the Seminar was more than 60 including participants from Russia, Germany, and Belgium. Handouts and photos of the Seminar can be found at

 An online lecture “Precise Point Positioning: Principles, Applications, Prospects” was given by Leonid Lipatnikov on March 1, 2017 in the frame of webinar series organized by Alexander Ustinov. Especial attention was payed to cost-efficiency aspects of PPP, including free software, free online processing services, free data sources, and prospects of free real-time access to correction data via satellite based augmentation systems. The lecture attracted 86 attendees online, gained more than 1,100 watches over 11 months. Available in Russian language at 

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

The mission of Commission 5 is to:

  • Focus on modern technologies, and technical developments and assist individual surveyors, engineers and GIS/LIS professionals 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 Congresses, FIG Working Weeks, FIG Regional Conferences 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 Standards Network 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.
  • Testing and calibration of measuring instruments.
  • Assist other Commission Working Groups to implement Standards from TC 172/SC 6 and ISO TC211 as appropriate.


David Martin, France
e-mail: david.martin[at]

Working Group 5.2 – 3D Reference Frames

Policy issues

  • Work to bring together all organisations involved in defining or using reference frames to develop common approaches and avoid duplication. Such organisations include FIG, the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), ISO, groups of national mapping agencies, other influential national agencies.
  • Continue the existing co-operation with IAG on the Regional Reference Frame Projects such as AFREF, APREF, EUREF, NAREF, and SIRGAS.
  • Consider options for the development and implementation of 4 dimensional datums that incorporate the effects plate tectonic and regional effects such as those due to earthquakes or local effects such as landslides.
  • Provide background technical information on relevant issues written in a way that is accessible to the surveying practitioners. Examine how surveying practitioners can access the reference frame, through less emphasis on networks of ground monuments and more emphasis on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) base stations.
  • Provide information on the maintenance of CORS networks to ensure long-term stability


Nic Donnelly, New Zealand
e-mail: ndonnelly[at]

Working Group 5.3 – Vertical Reference Frames

Policy issues

  • Educate FIG member agencies on current and future status of regional and global vertical reference frames and height systems
  • Educate FIG member agencies on practical aspects about the implementation of new geopotential datums including:
    • access using geoid height models and a geometric datum
    • redefining heights on existing bench marks to serve as secondary control
    • ties between height systems and local and global mean sea level


Kevin Kelly, USA
e-mail: kevin_kelly[at]


Dan Roman, USA
e-mail: dan.roman[at]

Working Group 5.4 – GNSS

Policy issues

  • Examine the positioning services using CORS and automated positioning software via WWW.
  • Support and disseminate emerging positioning techniques using GNSS
  • Research and dissemination regarding real time networks
  • Multi-GNSS products and advancements 
  • Provide FIG input during planning and implementation phases associated with programs of modernisation and development of all GNSS


Dr. Neil Weston, USA
e-mail: neil.weston[at]


Suelynn Choy, Australia
e-mail: suelynn.choy[at]

Working Group 5.5 – Multi-Sensor-Systems

(joint with IAG)

Policy issues

This group is a joint working group between FIG and IAG.  It focuses on the development of shared resources that extend our understanding of the theory, tools and technologies applicable to the development of multi sensor systems. It has a major focus on;

  • Performance characterization of positioning sensors and technologies that can play a role in augmenting core GNSS capabilities
  • Theoretical and practical evaluation of current algorithms for measurement integration within multi sensor systems.
  • The development of new measurement integration algorithms based around innovative modeling techniques in other research domains such as machine learning and genetic algorithms, spatial cognition etc.
  •  Establishing links between the outcomes of this WG and other IAG and FIG WGs (across the whole period)
  • Generating formal parameters that describe the performance of current and emerging positioning technologies that can inform FIG and IAG members.


Allison Kealy, Australia
e-mail: a.kealy[at]


Guenther Retscher, Austria
e-mail: Guenther.Retscher[at]