Connections

I am fascinated by the connections throughout the world, the connections among the many facets of surveying being just one example. Years ago I enjoyed a TV series, Connections, that began with a particular event in time, then proceeded through a series of connected events to another, seemingly unrelated place in world history.  It was extremely interesting to watch how the show’s researchers pulled together these events that, although separated by time and space, still connected to one another.  If you look closely enough, you can discover a myriad of connections; this is true with surveying, this month in time, and this month’s issue.

One of this issue’s features comes to us from wild, wonderful West Virginia, and, if you’ve ever spent time in that state, you’ll know why it’s called that.  Dr. Pete Dailey gives us a thorough rundown on the trials and tribulations of bringing a state-of-the-art real-time GPS network to West Virginia, no easy task indeed.  Dr. Pete refers to the region known as Appalachia, which includes parts of several states, including my home state of Maryland and the state of our second feature, Pennsylvania.

This past April marked the 150-year anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter and the beginning of the Civil War.  As Dr. Pete also mentions, West Virginia was the only state formed because of the war.  In a Washington Post article, Preston Williams (a West Virginia native) writes, “Just as North battled South in the country, West confronted East in Virginia.  The two regions formed a single state in name, but not in geography, economy, climate, descent of its residents or way of life.”  Siding with the Union, West Virginia’s statehood was approved by President Lincoln (with some controversy) this same month (June 20th) of 1863.

The month of June provides a couple of other, direct and indirect, connections.  As you know, Professional Surveyor Magazine recognizes the important ties between surveying on the ground and from the air.  We regularly cover the aerial mapping profession, which traces its modern history back to military applications in World War I.  But there were also “pre-modern” applications of mapping from above dating back to the Civil War.  Aeronaut Thaddeus Lowe championed the use of gas-filled balloons for mapping and reconnaissance during the war and, in June 1861, provided a demonstration to President Lincoln.  On Saturday, June 11, the National Air and Space Museum is presenting a reenactment of this event at its original location, on the National Mall.  (Lowe was also connected to a German named Zeppelin; you can guess where that led.)

June marks another important milestone that connects to yet another part of our profession: GPS.  In his column this month, Laurence Socci presents a thorough account of the on-going Light Squared situation and ACSM’s response letter to the FCC.  We have covered this issue several times over the last few months, but it has progressed very quickly primarily due to deadlines imposed by (oddly enough) the FCC.  The FCC deadline for the final report by the working group (made up of Light Squared and USGIC members) is—you guessed it—on June 15.  This issue has brought protests from a number of heavy hitters, including the DOD and DOT, and groups such as the Coalition to Save Our GPS have joined the fight.  This remains a quickly developing situation; I suggest you keep informed and add your voice during the FCC comment period that begins once the report is filed.

~TJ

» Back to our June 2011 Issue

Website design and hosting provided by 270net Technologies in Frederick, Maryland.