Spring 2009

The Newsletter of the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium

Table of Contents

MN GIS/LIS Consortium

From the Chair
Conference Planning
Volunteer Opportunities
Scholarship Winners

Drive to Excellence Update
USNG in Minnesota
Mn/DOT GIS Portal
LCC-GIS and Redistricting

Governor's Council
CTU and USNG standards out for review
Next Generation 9-1-1

Services Forum Results
Address Point Synchronization

Tracking Utility Trucks
Watershed E. coli Study

Mapping Floods
Improvng Flood Maps
Height Modernization

URISA Skills Survey
MHS Map Exhibit

Randy Johnson, ESRI GIS Hero

Other Places
Web 2.0 for Local Government
Economics and Place



Minnesota Participates in National Height Modernization Program
By David Zenk PE, PLS, National Geodetic Survey Advisor in Minnesota
Minnesota and its surrounding states are participating in a national program that will make height determination faster and more accurate.
Briefly, the program is called Height Modernization. The name implies a move away from traditional height determination (using spirit leveling and other methods) toward the use of satellite-based methods (such as GPS).
The success of the program depends on obtaining an adequate sample of measurements that permit the accurate calculation of the relationship between 3-dimensional coordinates (from GPS) and the adopted height system in the United States.
Once this has been accomplished, it will be possible to obtain a height – using only GPS and a GEOID model – that is within 2 cm or less of the accepted published height.
Indeed, Minnesota seems to be near that threshold now.
GIS practitioners and surveyors have long struggled with obtaining reliable heights in a rapid, affordable manner. Height Modernization will deliver them.
Read what the National Geodetic Survey has to say about Height Modernization:
Geodetic positioning is critical for support of all of NOAA's mission goals. Whether it is for safe and efficient transportation and commerce, understanding climate change and mitigating damage from coastal storms by measuring and monitoring sea level rise, or providing information to enable emergency response deciders to plan for and respond to natural disasters, having accurate heights is critical. NGS’s height modernization program does just that.
NGS is working to expand the highly successful Height Modernization Program into a true National Program. Many goals described in the newly released NGS 10-year plan support the basic elements of Height Modernization, including development of a high accuracy geoid model, and development of tools to assist with datum transformations and access to the NSRS (National Spatial Reference System). The plan will provide leadership in geospatial science with guidelines and education.
Implementation of the Height Modernization initiative began with funding support for numerous states in many areas of the United States through grants. NGS is developing a plan to implement Height Modernization on the National level, addressing the variety of needs in all regions for an accurate height reference system. NGS will support and foster cooperative activities within areas with common needs and goals.
For more information, see NOAA’s height modernization website or contact David Zenk at or  651-366-3523.
Editor’s note: Minnesota is part of NOAA’s Great Lakes Region. See the agenda and detailed notes from the Great Lakes Regional Forum on the Height Modernization Program held September 24-25, 2008 in Madison, Wisconsin.