FIG Vice President Matt Higgins attends the Third Meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG)

Pasadena, California, USA, 8-12 December 2008

The International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG), met in Pasadena, California, USA, from 8 to 12 December 2008. Vice President Matt Higgins attended representing the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG).

The ICG has been formed as a result of recommendations of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS), as ratified by the General Assembly of the UN. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN OOSA) acts as the secretariat for the ICG. It should be noted that FIG has an MoU with UN OOSA.

A major development for the surveying and geodesy community at ICG-3 was the formation of a Task Force on Geodetic References. The proposed membership of the Task Force means that for the first time ever, there will be a single forum where experts from the user community (including FIG and the International Association of Geodesy, IAG) can meet directly with experts from the GNSS providers who are responsible for:

  • World Geodetic System 84 (WGS84) used for GPS;
  • PZ-90.02 used for GLONASS;
  • Galileo Terrestrial Reference Frame (GTRF) used for Galileo, and;
  • China Geodetic System (CGS`2000) used for Compass.

The goals for the Task Force will include:

  1. To bring together all interested ICG participants (experts from the system and service providers, key user communities, etc);
  2. To review the present situation (existing documents, resolutions or practices);
  3. To discuss and agree upon a consistent terminology for geodetic references and related understanding;
  4. To prepare recommended practices for the realization of each GNSS Geodetic Reference and its alignment to ITRF;
  5. To outline and encourage implementation plans in each relevant user community;
  6. To propose mechanisms for informing users of the current realization of a particular Geodetic Reference and any changes that may occur from time to time.

A similar Task Force has also been established on Time References. It is to be led by Felicitas Arias from the Bureau international des poids et mesures (BIPM). Both of those Task Forces will report to the ICG via Working Group D on Interaction with National and Regional Authorities and Relevant International Organizations. I am a Co-Chair of Working Group D along with John Dow and Ruth Neilan from IAG and the International GNSS Service (IGS).

Read more: Full report of Matt Higgins from the Third Meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) including the Joint Statement and appendices (10 pages)

Matt Higgins
Vice President, FIG

18 December 2008