FIG Commission 5 - Positioning and Measurement

Term 2011-2014

Highlights Commission Chair
From the start of the 2011-14 term FIG Commission 5 has investigated practical solutions to global survey problems, and facilitated technical activities pertaining to the development, use and integration of technologies for positioning, measurement, survey infrastructure, and the associated standardisation, best practice and fundamental reference frame issues. Mr. Mikael Lilje
National Land Survey

Our specific activities have been aimed at developing countries, low cost surveying technologies, implementation of modern geodetic reference frames, applications of geospatial and positioning infrastructure, and the professional development of the operational surveyor.

Throughout the current period, Commission 5 has focused work on achieving realistic tangible outcomes for our five missions, which are -

  • 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

During the period, the Commission 5 has focused our energy to ensure that the annual FIG Working Weeks in Marrakech, Rome, Abuja and Kuala Lumpur have been successful, as well as the FIG Regional Conference in Montevideo (Uruguay) and the FIG Pacific Small Islands Developing States Symposium in Suva (Fiji). To date Commission 5 has facilitated over 275 technical presentations at our technical sessions, special forums or meetings.

We have also effectively collaborated with our sister organisations at various events to promote and fulfil the objectives of our work plan, especially at events such as the General Assembly for the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (Melbourne, Australia), the annual International Committee on GNSS events (Tokyo (Japan), Beijing (China), Dubai, (UAE)) and the symposium series on Mobile Mapping Technology.

In addition to this, the Commission has been responsible for the Technical Seminar on Reference Frames in Practice, which have been convened jointly with the with the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management – Asia Pacific (UN GGIM-AP), the International Committee on GNSS (ICG) and our Platinum FIG Corporate sponsors. We have held two technical seminars, one in Rome (Italy), and the other in Manila (Philippines). These seminars examined reference frames issues pertinent to each region. Smaller versions of this technical seminar have also been organised within the technical program of other FIG events.

The Commission has also recently prepared two publications which are to be released at the FIG Congress in Kuala Lumpur. The first is an updated version of FIG Publication No 49 - Cost Effective GNSS Positioning Techniques, and the second is a new publication consisting of technical fact sheets to form a “Reference Frames in Practice Manual”.

Another key highlight for the Commission during the term so far was the development of a special edition for the Journal of Applied Geodesy which was undertaken with IAG and includes papers on Ubiquitous Positioning and Navigation Systems.

The ongoing success of FIG Commission 5 is largely due to the dedicated hard work of our Working Group Chairs and members from Commission 5. They have all been actively representing FIG at numerous related symposia around the world and whilst advancing the work of the working groups.  

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, technical developments and assist 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.
  • facilitate and follow technical developments through collaboration with other FIG Commissions and other international organisations; participation in appropriate meetings; and the preparation of appropriate publications.
  • 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 on an on-going basis at 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
E-mail: martin[at]

Working Group 5.2 - 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 (such as the US Department of Defence’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which is responsible for WGS84.) and alliances of commercial organisations (such as Open GIS Consortium and the European Petroleum Survey Group).
  • 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.
  • 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 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
  • Liaise with Commission 4 to review, revise and update FIG Publication 37, Vertical Reference Surface for Hydrography


Graeme Blick
E-mail: gblick[at]  

Working Group 5.3 - Geodetic and Positioning Infrastructure

Policy issues

  • Examine the positioning services using CORS.
  • Examine various positioning techniques using GNSS
  • Examine existing automated positioning software via WWW
  • Real time networks
  • GNSS products and advancements
  • Provide FIG input during planning and implementation phases associated with programs of GPS Modernisation and GNSS Development.


Neil D. Weston
E-mail: Neil.D.Weston[at]

Working Group 5.4 - Kinematic Measurements

Most surveyors can operate and manage their instruments if no movements occur. But what happens, if the instrument or the surveyed object is moving? New problems arise like e.g. synchronisation of the measurements and modeling of the movement. These and other related tasks, investigations and practical solutions are summarized under the term “kinematic measurements”. Multi-sensor-systems and their application play an important part for kinematics.
If you are interested in this topic related to monitoring as well as machine guidance, then you should definitely join this group to share your experience or learn from others. We will organize sessions at FIG events, participate at symposia on related topics e.g. “Machine Guidance and Control” and “Mobile Mapping” and facilitate the interchange of knowledge among practitioners and researchers.

Policy issues

  • Cooperation with all organisation involved in the field of GNSS e.g. IAG and ISO
  • Bring to together practitioners, instrument manufactures and scientists that deal with kinematic measurements
  • Maintaining contact with instrument and sensor manufactures to provide state-of-the-art information to the users
  • Co-operation with Commission 6 WG “Machine Guidance and Control”
  • Co-operation with study groups IC-SG2 and IC-SG3 of the Intercommission Committee on Theory (ICCT) of the International Association of Geodesy


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

Working Group 5.5 – Ubiquitous Positioning (Joint Working Group with Commission 6)

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

  • Performance characterization of positioning sensors and technologies that can play a role in the development of ubiquitous positioning systems
  • Theoretical and practical evaluation of current algorithms for measurement integration within ubiquitous positioning 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
E-mail: a.kealy[at]



Guenther Retscher
E-mail: guenther.retscher[at]