Important dates in the history of the Survey of Israel (Previously Survey Department and Survey Bureau 1971-1992)

Important dates in the history of the Survey of Israel (Previously Survey Department and Survey Bureau)

Translated from the original Hebrew version.


Part 2: Dr. Ron Adler, September 1, 1971 until December 31, 1992

The chronological history of the State of Israel's Survey Department under the direction of its second Director General, Dr. Ron Adler. During his 21 years as Director General, the Survey Department became the Survey Bureau and later the Survey of Israel (SOI). This summary describes decisions, acquisitions, cadastre advancement, technological advancement, marking the Egyptian border, entering the GIS era and satellite mapping (GPS).


September 1, 1971Dr. Ron Adler begins his role as the Director General of the Survey Department. He will manage the department (which will become a bureau and later the Survey of Israel – all during this period) for 21 years, until December 31, 1992.
1971Immediately after Dr. Adler takes office, he appoints three deputies – Uri Shoshani, Geodesy Director (field and calculations) and Plan Inspection; Moshe Erez, Photgrammetry Director; Asher Solel – Land Regulation Director. Under Joseph Elster, Asher Solel was the only deputy by virtue of his position as Commander of the Mapping Unit. Dr. Adler was not appointed Deputy of Surveys and Cadastre until Elster's final years.
1971Dr. Adler decides to close the Advanced School of Surveying in Holon and to open a department of Geodesy and Cartography studies at the Tel Aviv University. In his opinion, government organizations should not be directly involved in education, the schools grounds are large and not efficiently utilized and graduates of geodesy studies should have academic degrees.
May 8, 1972The General Director of the Ministry of Labor, Arye Gurel, appoints a committee to shorten the land regulation p. Members of the committee include representatives of the Israel Land Administration, the Registration and Land Regulation Division of the Ministry of Justice and the Survey Department.
End of May – Early June, 1972The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) holds a conference in Tel Aviv. The conference strengthens the status of Israeli surveyors due to, among other reasons, the fact that Israeli surveyors host visiting conference participants in their homes, for the first time in the history of FIG conferences.
July 1, 1972

The land regulation has progressed as follows:


Total Israeli territories within the Green Line: 20,255,000 dunams.


Land regularized so far (including during the British Mandate): 14,758,350 dunams.


Regularized territories in which marking surveys have been completed: 1,195,990 dumans


Territories in which regularization has not yet begun: 4,300,660 dunams


Total number of non-regularized land: 5,496,650 dunams


July 5, 1972Surveyor Moshe Ninio is hit by a car while marking and surveying points for aerial photography in Ashkelon. Six days later, on July 11, he dies of his injuries.
December 1972The committee to shorten the land regulation period presents its recommendations: regularization can be completed within 10 days in 90% of Israel's territories within the Green Line, if organizational and technological changes are made. The remaining territories will not be regularized for political, legal or technical reasons.
1972Landsat ERTS-1 satellite photos obtained through remote sensing and scanning methods are received by the Survey Department in a series of picture units and are digitally processed against traditional photography formats. Working with satellite photos plays an important role in implementing mapping automation and begins the process of adjusting to work methods involving computerized processing of aerial photographs to be used for mapping.
1973The Survey Department purchases a PPO-8 device for the A8 autograph for the photogrammetry division, enabling creation of an orthophoto – a map based on geometrically corrected aerial photos. The device eliminates distortion from aerial photos, creating a corrected photograph at a uniform scale. The orthophoto will first be used for military operations during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
July 1973A committee is appointed to formulate and implement a land regulation plan based on recommendations made by the committee appointed to shorten the land regulation process. Its role is to coordinate activities between the three organizations involved in regularization (Israel Land Administration, Land Registry and Regulation of the Ministry of Justice and the Survey Department) in order to hasten the regularization process and avoid bottlenecks. The recommendations will not be implemented until 1974 because of the Yom Kippur War.
October 1973Survey Department employees work shifts, night and day, to provide mapping aids during the Yom Kippur War.
1974Cartography Director Dr. Naftali Kadmon publishes a research paper on hyperbolic projection which can be used to create deliberate distortions to the scale or content of certain specialized maps. The goal is to display the most significant object on the map at a larger scale and the map edges at a smaller scale. This type of projection is especially useful in atlases which contain very small scale maps.
1974/5The Survey Department reaches its peak of 506 employees. From this point on, the department begins a streamlining process which includes reducing the number of employees. Ten years later, on March 31, 1984, the Survey Bureau will employ 372 employees. This cutback is part of an agreement between Dr. Adler and the State Comptroller.
1975The Survey Department publishes a new series of 1:100,000 maps of Israel including vast information on road usage, services for drivers, distances, and different tourist attractions and information. The series production is scheduled to end in 1977/78.
1976The Survey Department forms "Staff 55" to update 550 housing maps produced by a private engineering firm in 1968 for the Ministry of Housing. The staff includes employees from six different departments: Village Registration, Land Regulation, Topography, Reproduction, Photogrammetry and Cartography. The original maps are found to be inaccurate and do not cover the entire area in question. The project includes preparing new maps and updating some of the original ones and is received with upmost admiration by the Ministry of Housing, who doubted that the department would succeed in meeting the ministry's demands. The staff completes the project on March 15, 1977 and its members return to their original departments.
February 1976The new Roland offset printing machine from Germany is assembled. The machine can print 10,000, two-colored sheets per hour. The older machines print 5500 sheets per hour.
August 1976The first edition of the 1:250,000 touring and hiking map is published (covering the north and the south). Additional symbols are added to the map's key, including railroads or scenic roads; recreational and national parks; scuba-diving or underwater fishing sites; gas stations open all week or on weekdays only, 24 hours or daytime only, and more.
December 2, 1976Doris Shaharabani from the calculations division receives an Outstanding Employee Certificate from the Minister of Labor. On February 15, 1977, she will receive the Award for Excellence from Israel's President, Efraim Katzir.
1976/77A geological map of Israel based on satellite photographs is published. It is claimed to be the "first of its kind in the world".
1977The Department purchases a Data General C-330 Eclipse computer which arrives at the Survey Bureau during 1978. This acquisition ends the Bureau's dependency on IBMs customer service department. The new computer will significantly improve the quality of work, will save considerable amounts of time and will be the first computer to be used for most of the Calculation Division's work.
1977The Survey Bureau management decides to establish an information center for surveyors on the ground floor of its building.  The center, which will be known as the Surveyor's Information Center will improve the provided support.
1977The 1977 survey regulations are published, regulating payment to the Survey Bureau for any project or service provided by an employee, whether in the field or in the office, including surveys, sketches, calculations, plan approval, analyzing files, registries, aerial photos, etc.
July 1, 1977Government publications report the establishment of a new ministry, to be called the Ministry of Construction and Housing. The Public Work Department will be under its authority (see April 1978).
1977/78The Survey Bureau sets up a new computerized pricing system. Human resource management and the computerized pricing system will be a quantum leap in the Bureau's history and will earn the planning director, Zion Shitrug, the Kaplan Prize. Additional prize winners are Yerach Deutscher and Uri Shoshani from the calculations division.
April 1978Section 33(b) of Government Portfolio of Notifications 2433 discusses transferring authority over the Survey Bureau (known as the Survey Department until 1977) from the Ministry of Labor and Welfare to the Ministry of Construction and Housing.
 Survey Bureau employee, Eli Shlomi develops the Polifocal Projection as part of his MA thesis. This projection allows the user to define scales at an unlimited number of locations on the map's area. Along with Prof. Naftali Kadmon, his thesis advisor, Shlomi wins a medal from the British Cartography Society.
1980The Survey Bureau prepares a mapping survey of the un-farmed land in Judea and Samaria which can be used to build new settlements.
Early 1981The Survey Bureau decides to begin re-coordinating the country's central control network (levels 1,2). The project will be completed within two years and then level 3 and 4 points coordination will begin. On principle, this coordination extracts systemic influences from the surveys performed so far, and causes optimal distribution of the original errors.
1981The interim statement written by Deputy Director of the Survey Bureau, Asher Solel is published in the first publication of Cadastral Papers. It reports that 80% of Israel's land has been regularized so far, 17% is currently in different stages of regularization and the process has not yet begun on 3% of the land. 90% of Israel's land is expected to be regularized by 1983.
April 1981The Israel-Egypt joint commission begins a series of discussions on marking the border between the two countries. Representatives of the Survey Bureau participate in the meetings, which will end in April 1982, before Israel withdraws from Sinai. The countries disagree on 16 of the 97 border markers which will be discussed in international arbitration during 1986-1988.
July 1981Surveyor Yair Weiss and assistant surveyor Zvi Gabbai are killed in a road accident on the highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, on their way to a survey assignment. Other surveyors are injured in the accident.
1982A Kern, Swiss made, DSR1 stereoplotter is purchased for the photogrammetry department, enabling transition from old mechanical mapping methods to analytical mapping performed using mathematical calculations.
1982Dr. Naftali Kadmon and Dr. Avshalom Shmueli's book, Maps and Mapping, is published by the Keter publishing house. The maps that appear in the book are printed by the Survey Bureau.
19825742-1982 Surveyor's Regulations (of the surveying profession) are published. The regulations define the conditions for receiving a surveyor's license, who is authorized to be a trainer, the required training period, licensing fees, etc.
1983A decision is made to regulate the land in the Golan Heights, in order to implement the December 1981 Golan Heights Law which states that the Golan Heights is a part of the land of Israel.
1983Surveyor Shlomit Shamai, of the Survey Supervision department dies of heatstroke near Eilat.
1983/84The research department receives an EDA magnetometer to register changes in the magnetic field. The magnetometer is positioned at the magnetic observatory near Eilat.
1984A Data General, MV-10,000 computer arrives at the Survey Bureau. The new computer is the first to be owned by the Bureau which supports automatic sketching and allows employees to work at work stations via a system of 50 terminals.
1984The Survey Bureau purchases an RC10a aerial camera which can withstand extreme weather conditions, humidity and turbulence caused by the dynamic conditions of photography from an aircraft.
1984/85The Photogrammetry Department prepares status summaries from different periods at the request of the West Bank Civil Administration and the Israel Land Administration as a basis for Israel's claims on west bank territories.
1985Tests begin to examine the feasibility of entering the GPS era. Dr. Joseph Forrai initiates the tests, which end in 1989 with Dr. Adler's affirmative decision.
1985The third, bi-lingual edition of the Atlas of Israel is published, along with Carta – The Israeli Organizations of Maps and Publishing. The American Macmillan publisher distributes the atlas all over the world. This edition contains 39 printed pages. Work on the atlas began in 1983.
1985/6A staff of Survey Bureau employees and the military Mapping Unit participate in discussions between the Israeli and Egyptian governments to resolve the points of conflict regarding the disputed border markings. The parties decide on international arbitration.
August 1, 1985The Survey Bureau organizes a performance at the Holon Community Center to raise money to save the life of one of its employees. Well-known Israeli performers take part in the performance, including Gila Almagor, Yigal Bashan, Uzi Chitman, Yonatan Miller, Michal Tal, Uzi Meiri and Yaakov Ben-Sira.
1986Surveyors begin new precision leveling surveys based on modern precision standards and national planning. Surveys are done mostly on the coast, between Ashkelon and Haifa. The old measurements taken in other locations are updated in accordance with the new measurements that are recorded. Calculations end in 1998 and a coordinated national vertical network is achieved.
February 6, 1986The Golod-Steinberg-Papo sub-committee, established to formulate a Bureau policy and work plan (the first two members are directors at the Survey Bureau and the third is a professor at the Technion and a Bureau consultant), proposes a new Israel projection network – ITM. The theoretical background for the this new projection was processed by Prof. Papo and Dr. Adler and was published in the world renown Cartographic Journal, published in Britain.
1986/87Most of the land regulation work in the Northern Negev region (and in fact, in the entire Negev) is completed, except for 750,000 disputed dumans of land.
19875757-1987 Surveyor Regulations (surveying and mapping) are published, regulating measurement and classification of horizontal and vertical control networks, emphasizing that the higher levels of the network must be measured by the Survey Bureau; discussing survey data, measuring and editing the plans for registration purposes and more. The regulations will be replaced by new ones in 1998.
February 9-11, 1987The first surveys using GPS receivers are performed in Israel. Surveys are done over three nights using two Wild WM-101 receivers. A company representative advises the Israeli surveyors on operating the receivers. The data is processed in the Calculations and ADP (Automatic Data Processing) Departments, using an IBM computer.
May 1987Survey Bureau presents a volume of maps to the international arbitration team to resolve the disputes about the Taba border as well as other points of conflict on the Israel-Egypt border.
December 1, 1987The Survey Bureau changes its name to the Survey of Israel– Geodesy, Mapping and Geographic Information. The name is changed due to its increased geodesy and cartographic mapping responsibilities and expected developments in geographic information. The organization also changes its symbol to one that represents planet Earth and the organized, precise network erupting into open space and standing before endless possibilities (LANDSAT, SPOT, GPS). When Aviel Ron is appointed Director General of Survey of Israel, he will change the organization's initials to SOI.
1987/88ADP (Automatic Data Processing) doubles its staff due to the transition from intensive "hands-on" work to computerized systems. The workforce size is reduced in most other departments.
1987/88A 400 hour course on Mapping and Photogrammetry is given by the Photogrammetry Department, in order to train new experts in the field. Six people complete the course and are hired by the SOI.
1988An RC-20 aerial camera is purchased, with the ability to correct the influence of aircraft movement on photos' clarity.
February 1988Representatives of the Survey of Israel participate in escorting the international arbitration team to the points of conflict on the Israel-Egypt border, before Israel and Egypt present their cases before the team. The arbitrators reach an agreement on the location of the disputed border markers in September 1988.
1989The Survey of Israel acquires three of the Israel's first geodesic GPS receivers. A new era of surveying begins in the SOI.
1989The first national survey project using GPS receivers is performed. 15 majors across the country are surveyed as a field exercise, to learn how to use the data processing software and to develop methods and means of communications between the GPS and Israel networks.
January 5, 1989The Israeli government decides (ruling no. 81) to assign the Minister of Construction and Housing and the Minister of Finance the task of establishing a national land information system (the decision to establish a national GIS).  The system will store Israel's official geographic, topographic and cadastral databases.
1989/90Public housing projects are given priority. This decision is necessary to absorb the large wave of immigration from the Soviet Union. Land Regulations is responsible for experimental preparation of relevant blocks using analytic photogrammetry. The experiment begins in Eilat and Arad.
1989/90GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is given responsibility for planning, organizing and defining policies and work procedures as well as formulating Israeli standards for transferring geographic information between different databases and organizations. The department uses geodesic calculations and ADP systems. The SOI invests in training, implementing technology and building cooperation between different organizations such as the Electricity Company, Bezeq, municipalities and others.
1989/90A decision is made at the SOI to create a cadastral data base by digitizing block maps. Once the decision is made, ADP along with the Survey Supervision Department and Land Regulations run a pilot program to receive cadastral data from block maps. This pilot program requires extensive software development. By 1993, all of the data is received in the SOI, especially in the Information Gathering Department and is later used to assist contractors.
1989/90Photogrammetry begins preparing to adopt new technologies and work methods. Digital systems are routinely used in the GIS department, digital mapping will be performed and the formats will be converted to suit the needs of SOI and its customers. Master small-scale aerial coverage of the entire country is completed.
1989/90An advanced communications network is established in the Survey of Israel to be used for GIS development (using the TCP-IP protocol, which will eventually become the international standard internet protocol). The network combines all types of computers owned by SOI. The process of migrating software from DG systems to SUN, UNIX based computers begins, as well as the start of PC usage.
1989/90A joint research project begins. It is conducted by the Survey of Israel, the Geological Survey of Israel and Hannover and Karlskrona Universities in Germany. The project studies shifts in Earth's crust in the northern part of Israel. The study is held in the Kfar Hanassi region funded by the German Israel Foundation (GIF).
1990/91A decision is made to assign public housing survey projects to private surveyors. Due to the cutback in manpower, SOI can no longer complete all survey assignments, which can go on for years.
August 1990-January 1991Increased activity in the Reproduction and Printing departments to prepare maps following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. During the Gulf War an emergency team works 24 hours a day and an emergency notification is activated in the SOI.
1991/92The Topography Division, responsible for sketching and topographic mapping (especially for the Ministry of Housing), is closed and its responsibilities are transferred to Cadastral GIS.
1992Mapping projects commence to create a topographic GIS database. SOI chooses to work with a central Oracle database which will become the world's leading database. Outside photogrammetric companies map estimated sized 7x5 sq. kilometer models and the photogrammetry deciphering division supervises the process. The first map is of Kiryat Gat, followed by Nir-Yitzhak, Zeelim, Beersheva, and so on.
September 6-17, 1992The entire Israel-Egypt border is surveyed to document the route according to the peace treaty reached by the two countries. In October 1991, several of the border markers were surveyed in order to decide on survey methods. A "datum" border was set to enable joint surveys, using a coordinate system applicable only to the border region, from which each country could connect the border points to its own control system.
December 31, 1992Dr. Ron Adler steps down as the second Director General of the Survey of Israel. After 21 years, a new Director General, Zion Shitrug, takes his place.