Best-Fit Computing, Inc. was founded in 1991. The inspiration for Columbus Network Adjustment Software, however, came several years earlier.
In 1979, while working for the Bureau of Land Management in Colorado, frustration we observed was inadequate representation of coordinates for corners occurring at different elevations (in some cases, over 6000 feet different). This lead to all sorts of problems reporting/inversing/describing coordinates in a meaningful way that can be used by another future surveyor or even us. For this project, near Leadville, Colorado, hundreds of mining claims had to be discovered, categorized, and related to one another over an area of several square miles. To solve the problem, we looked at several existing commercial software products, but were unable to find anything satisfactory.
In 1982, we began work on a large 42-township control project near Rifle, Colorado. Using Doppler surveying and PLSS record bearing/distance data, we generated geographic positions (latitude and longitude) for every section corner and quarter corner. In order to complete this project, we developed custom geodetic software. The need for accurate least squares adjustment software continued to exist, and in response to this need, Columbus development was begun.
Why the Geodetic Model?
The 3D geodetic model is the most general solution for accurately representing measurements on the earth’s surface. From 3D geodetic coordinates, you can generate practically any other coordinate system; you cannot do this in the reverse.
The 3D geodetic model is much simpler conceptually than projected coordinate systems. Many people are continually confused by State Plane coordinates. With 3D geodetic, you collect the same field data and the resulting coordinates (lat/long/hgt) do not lead to confusing issues regarding grid distance vs. ground distance, true north vs. grid north, or what is the mark-to-mark slope distance between points. You can always transform your adjusted geodetic coordinates to State Plane, UTM, or a local coordinate system.
The 3D geodetic model is geometrically exact. Observations are used “as-is” in 3D space. There are no built-in systematic distortions. Your survey can span as little as 0.01 meters or over 10,000 kilometers without the mathematics breaking down.
We have users performing cadastral surveys that may only need to be accurate to the nearest 12 inches. We have users in developing countries using this model to develop/restore positions across an entire country. We also have users who require the tightest tolerances of all, because they are responsible for constructing/maintaining 3D alignment of linear accelerators. We also enjoy a strong presence in universities all over the world.
We developed Columbus to apply advanced mathematics in the surveying profession. Many software developers (or any profession, for that matter) can tell you that there is no greater professional satisfaction than providing a valuable service or creating a product that people actually use to solve a real-world problem.
Not only do we enjoy the development process, we especially enjoy our ability to provide these tools to our customers. We are committed to continually improving Columbus and providing powerful mathematical tools for the land measurement community of surveyors, geodesists, civil engineers and educational institutions worldwide.