Intergeo 2010

Organized by the German Society for Geodesy, Geoinformation, and Land Management (DVW), the INTERGEO conference and trade fair, held yearly in Germany, bills itself as the world’s largest event for the geospatial community. This year’s conference was held October 5-7 in Cologne, and with attendee numbers around 16,000 the only comparable event (at least in size) is the ESRI User Conference. Size, however, is the only comparison between the two, because unlike conferences in the United States, INTERGEO focuses primarily on the trade show aspect, with fewer technical sessions than most North American surveyors are used to, and those are more academic.

On the main exhibition floor the Trend and Media Forum was reserved for presentations that were less technical in nature. Omar-Pierre Soubra, marketing communications manager for the survey division of Trimble Navigation, spoke about where his firm sees the positioning industries going: “The surveying industry is about measuring a point, a position. But at the end of the day there are different ways to describe an object. I can take a picture of it, or a point cloud of it if I want it in 3D. So by getting additional data sets, like photos and point clouds, you can provide more data, in addition to traditional survey data, that provides much more valuable information for the customer.” Soubra went on to discuss that the data-gathering technologies have reached the point where significant improvements in speed and quantity of data acquisition make less of a difference to the user than how the data is managed. “If you initialize in a third of a second (rather than one second), is that going to make a difference in the data that you capture?”

Given the emphasis on the trade-show portion of the conference as well as its size and international nature, it’s no surprise that most manufacturers use INTERGEO as the preferred venue to introduce their new products. A sampling of the new equipment included: the Leica Viva TS15 robotic imaging total station that combines a traditional robotic total station with a high-resolution camera, image-assisted surveying and documentation, and grid scanning; the Ashtech ProMark 100 L1 GPS & GLONASS receiver and ProMark 200 dual-frequency RTK rover, which with their interchangeable controller provides users with a scalable and upgradeable GNSS system; and Topcon Positioning System’s FC-25 series of pocket-sized field controllers, one of which, the FC-25A, includes a built-in 3-megapixel camera, compass, and altimeter.

New as well as updated software solutions were also featured. The Trimble 4D Control system is a real-time monitoring software solution for geodetic structural monitoring, allowing the user to combine GNSS-based systems with automated tachymeters to create a fully automatic monitoring network. Leica introduced Construction Office, a software package that gives contractors the ability to edit designs, create stakeout point files, calculate volumes, and manage terrain models.

While most conferences that surveyors in the United States are used to tend to be industry specific, INTERGEO has an interdisciplinary feel that is certainly welcome to those who believe that the future of surveying here in the states is tied to the integration of various positioning technologies. The trade show floor space seemed fairly evenly split among traditional surveying products, GIS applications, and mapping technologies (both aerial and terrestrial). Along those lines, in addition to new products being introduced for the surveying market, the mapping market was well represented. Trimble announced a new forward-motion compensation system for its medium-format aerial camera that compensates for the forward motion of an aircraft during data capture, allowing for up to a three-stop decrease in shutter speed compared to aerial cameras without forward-motion compensation, as well as a two-times increase in maximum flight speed. In addition, Leica rolled out their RCD30, the world’s first 60MP medium-format airborne camera to acquire co-registered multispectral RGBN imagery.

Laser scanning ranks as the youngest of all the positioning technologies and this is where new products tend to display major evolutionary changes rather that the refinements you see in the more established products such as GNSS and optical surveying systems. Optech Incorporated announced the next generation of their mobile mapping system, the Lynx Mobile Mapper M1 that combines a collection rate of up to one million points/second with an integrated imaging system. Riegl’s long-range terrestrial laser scanner designed for open-pit mining applications, the VZ-1000, offers a measurement range of up to 1400 meters while still operating in Laser Class 1. Of all the new scanning products, none drew as much attention as the new FARO Focus 3D. Weighing just 11 pounds and featuring an integrated 70-megapixal camera to supplement its 970,000 points-per-second data-collection rate, its size alone would have drawn attention; however, it was the reported price tag of around $40,000 that made it stand out in the exhibit hall.

Here are my main observations, being a first-time attendee. Not to belabor this point, but first and most obvious was the size of the event. Even if only a third of the attendees were from the surveying profession, that’s over 5,000 surveyors attending at least one day of a three-day trade show, numbers that are unheard of in the United States (even taking into account our wider geographic disbursement). Second was the array of products available to the European surveyor, both in more manufacturers providing survey-related products and an apparent larger product line compared to those that are established in the U.S. market. My most significant observation was that if surveyors, GIS professionals, and photogrammetrists in Europe can meet together in one conference and trade show, then there is still an opportunity for the same professions to establish more common ground here in the United States.

About the Author

  • James Fleming, LS
    James Fleming, LS
    James Fleming, LS, owns Antietam Land Surveying in Hagerstown, Maryland.

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