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This year saw the welcome return of the Survey Ireland conference, says AUDREY MARTIN.

Survey Ireland is an annual conference aimed at geospatial professionals, survey practitioners and survey engineers involved in all aspects of surveying. The conference, which was previously organised by the Irish Society of Surveying Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISSPRS), ran from 1978 until 2008. During these three decades Survey Ireland attracted many high-profile national and international speakers and companies. Survey Ireland became the national survey event and provided an important networking forum for geomatics surveyors and associated professionals. In recent years, however, due to the economic climate and the significant increase in conference overheads, Survey Ireland became unsustainable and was cancelled.

The loss of the annual Survey Ireland conference was recognised by the Department of Spatial Information Sciences (DSIS) at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) as a significant gap for surveyors in the context of continuing professional development (CPD). With this in mind, and as part of the DSIS response to industry needs, a scaled down Survey Ireland conference was held in March in DIT, Bolton Street. The Survey Ireland conference formed one of three geospatial events that took place during the DSIS Survey Week, which took place from March 12-15, 2012.

elearning
During the first two days of Survey Week, the 2012 pan-European Spatial Data Research organisation (EuroSDR) launched four short elearning courses aimed at the industry:

  • terrestrial reference frames: application to the realisation of the European Reference System (ETRS89);
  • 3D data in urban environments;
  • open standards and open source web mapping; and,
  • radiometric performance of digital photogrammetric cameras and laser scanners.

These courses are specifically designed for knowledge transfer from the research to the production domain, and this event attracted an international audience of over 40 high-profile academics, researchers and professionals. Details of EuroSDR’s educational programmes can be found at http://www.eurosdr.net/eduserv10.

On Wednesday, March 14, a DIT/EuroSDR colloquium entitled ‘Towards a sustainable GeoSpatial location framework’ celebrated the ten-year link between EuroSDR and DIT. The colloquium enabled over 60 European and Irish experts to share their views on the technological, educational and organisational issues related to the provision of sustainable geospatial location framework data at both a European and an Irish level. Details of the DIT/EuroSDR colloquium can be found at http://www.eurosdr.net/dit.

Conference
The DSIS Survey Week culminated on March 15 with the Survey Ireland conference and exhibition. The programme for the conference included a number of high-profile speakers from a diverse range of surveying perspectives, both academic and professional, which reflected the full range of the professional geomatics surveyor’s activities. It also included a number of high-profile service providers, who exhibited the newest developments in survey hardware.

The conference opened with a keynote presentation on the developments and future of the geomatics discipline by Emeritus Professor Ian Downman, immediate past president of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

Professor Downman provided an ideal context for the broad scope of presentations given at the conference, covering the diversity of geomatics disciplines.

The next presentation, by Dr Eugene McGovern FSCSI FRICS (DSIS, past chair of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland Geomatics Professional Group), reported on the results of the recent Society-sponsored research into Network Real Time Kinematic (NRTK; ‘NRTK in Ireland 2011’, Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland) and was keenly received by the audience with a number of directed questions into the accuracy of NRTK. This study is the first in the public domain to evaluate the performance of NRTK services in Ireland and provides guideline information for geospatial practitioners.

Colin Bray MSCSI MRICS, General Manager of Mapping Technology for Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi), presented an overview of OSi survey infrastructural developments that will affect survey measurements in the near future. These included an approximately 20% densification of the current Continually Operating Reference Stations (CORS) situated around the country and the introduction of a new geoid model (OSGM12) for Ireland this year.

Risk analysis and data capture
Following the coffee break, Ben King FSCSI FRICS, current Chair of the Society’s Geomatics Professional Group, presented a paper on survey risk analysis. Ben has over 23 years of geomatics experience working on various infrastructure, building, restoration and software development projects, and is currently the Survey and Corporate Business Planning Manager with the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA). This paper was very warmly received, as it highlighted an area that is often neglected in terms of project risk management and illustrated the consequences in terms of cost that survey errors propagating through a large-scale project can entail. Questions on this topic clearly indicated that this area needs to be developed in terms of CPD events for surveyors and conveyed to related professionals in large-scale projects.

One area of interest to all chartered surveying professionals is that of building information management (BIM). This topic, and the enabling role of geomatics in capturing the necessary geospatial data required to produce and exploit BIM, was addressed by Mark Hudson MSCSI MRICS. Mark is a Chartered Surveyor and director of Coastway, which has been in operation since 1999.

The focus of the conference remained on laser scanning data for BIM products after the lunch break when Simon Tritschler, Survey Manager with DPS Engineering, delivered a paper on the data requirements and related problems of the huge data sets generated when undertaking complex laser scanning operations.

Simon is a graduate of DSIS Geomatics and has a wealth of experience in sales, support and training in state-of-the art survey equipment.

Organisation of large data sets is also significant when undertaking mobile mapping surveys for road and pavement management, whereby the data is generated from laser scanning technologies such as Lidar. Hundreds of kilometres of roads can now be surveyed in very short periods of time. However, the accuracy and the extraction of data from these data sets remains a hot topic in research. Conor Cahalane, a DSIS Geomatics graduate with a background in surveying, remote sensing and GIS, is currently based at the National Centre for Geocomputation at NUI Maynooth, and delivered an interesting research paper focusing on mobile mapping system performance.

The final paper of the day was also delivered by a DSIS Geomatics graduate – Declan Byrne. Declan is Lead Geoscientist (Geodetics) in Tullow Oil, where he works within the Geophysical Technology Group based in Dublin. He has managed the geodetic aspects of many Tullow Oil sites internationally, most recently in Uganda. Declan provided a valuable insight into the varied areas of geodetic project management and the geomatics requirements in this area.

The Survey Ireland 2012 conference attracted over 100 survey professionals from a wide range of private practices, Government departments and academic institutes. The papers presented highlighted the diverse range of professional skills required by a geomatics surveyor and focused on recent developments in terms of survey infrastructure and new technologies. In addition, the survey exhibition, which ran for the entire day, enabled survey and service providers to showcase their equipment. All proceedings from the conference can be found at http://www.eurosdr.net/dit.

It is clear from the DSIS Survey Week that an annual forum for the interchange of ideas and knowledge, and which can highlight forthcoming educational and CPD initiatives, is required for geomatics professionals. Hopefully, this gap in the market will be filled again next year.

Dr Audrey Martin FSCSI FRICS
Audrey is a lecturer in the Department of Spatial Information
Sciences, Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street, Dublin 1.