Editorial: Turning Points

A 194Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

With this issue we are pleased to introduce some new columnists! Stephen Blaskey, a licensed surveyor and graduate of the Corpus Christi GIS program, looked at his survey practice and detected areas which would benefit from the application of GIS. Topics for upcoming instalments include hardware and software investments (not as much as you might think), how long before the benefits show up (not as long as you might think), and the need for specialized personnel (not necessary at all). I invite those of you who, like Stephen, are continually looking for ways to improve the bottom line by working faster and more accurately, to check out his article.

Also in this issue is a new column by Jim Nadeau, a licensed surveyor, realtor, and certified floodplain manager from Maine. Jim looked beyond his surveying practice and could see the need for an outreach, so he frequently makes presentations before insurance agents, mortgage brokers, lenders and realtors. With the nightmarish economic downturn, Jim’s experience illustrates the wisdom and benefit of several skills and revenue sources. The more tools you have to work with, the likelier it is that, when one sector of the economy turns down, you’ll have other disciplines to fall back on.

A third article might cause a double-take for some. Titled "The Survey Association," the article is not about U.S. survey associations, but rather a UK-based organization of companies. The primary benefit to the members are high-level client guides that range in subject matter from fundamental surveying to RTK networks. Nearly 30 of these guides have been produced, all freely downloadable. Check them out. You never know, one or two sentences from one of these guides might help you secure work or even explain to a client why you did what you did.

Mike Michelsen provides a poignant look at groups that are still looking for lost heroes from WWII in the South Pacific. The 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway was marked in June, widely regarded as the turning point in the war due to the decimation of the Japanese navy. Hats off to these groups who tirelessly work to find our MIA all these decades after the end of the war.

I’ve had many people ask me over the years how the USGS made its early-day maps. This month’s lead cover feature is a pleasant blast from the past, plane tables and alidades. Few today would dispute the fact that total stations and data collectors are a requirement for topo surveys, but there was something nice about the sense of accomplishment gained from the plane table operator bringing back a map when he returned to the office. Much respect is due to those "artists" who could see and understand what they were mapping, and they didn’t encounter any hiccups with the TIN software. The present-day software is extremely good, but the early day versions occasionally allowed contours to cross. Added to this is the fact that the USGS made extensive use of this type of gear first for creating maps, and later for checking aerially-derived maps. The late ASPRS historian and former USGS plane table man, Abe Anson, even wrote a couple of e-books about the subject, which are available in our online store.

Wishing you a safe and pleasant summer!

Marc Cheves is the editor of the magazine.

A 194Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE