People are Looking Up!

A 266Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Intergeo 2013 was held October 8­10 in Essen, Germany. As the largest geotechnology event in the Western world, attendees each year witness the rollout of future tech. Located in the heart of the Ruhr industrial region in northwest Germany, the event this year teemed with more than 500 exhibitors and 16,000 attendees from more than 80 countries. Simply put, there in no equivalent show in this country.

In the past, manufacturers of survey equipment used in the United States waited for the annual American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) show to announce new products. Over time, they began announcing them throughout the year, or at their own shows. At this year’s Intergeo, Trimble made 11 announcements in one day, Topcon made seven announcements throughout the week, and many more were made over the course of the show. As editor, I post news releases on our website, and set a record one day with 25 posts from the conference. You can visit to get a glimpse of the new product announcements. I have also posted photos of the show on our flickr account, which can be reached from our website.

Succinctly, Intergeo 2013 can be summed up in a single sentence: People are looking up! I say this due to the profusion of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) on exhibit. Recent history will attest to that: in 2011 there were seven UAV companies, in 2012 there were 16, and this year, 35. These devices were flown both inside and outside the exhibit halls. They ranged from tiny palm-width units that fit easily in one’s hand, to 8-propeller octocopters capable of lifting a FARO scanner. Inexplicably, the FAA is keeping a damper on the use of UAVs in this country. While these devices are certain to curtail the performing of traditional topographic surveys, photogrammetry from 100­-200 feet is quite accurate and eminently useable for land development topo.

Hordes of students attested to the rate at which young professionals are flocking to this technology. Common on the show floor were instructors with a gaggle of one to two dozen enthusiastic students tagging along, soaking in the bounty of geotechnology. Of course, Germany, being the size of Colorado with a population of 80+ million, makes it easy for practically every surveyor or student in the country to attend the show, but it’s refreshing to see so much enthusiasm. Of particular interest to me was a group of 15­20 smiling students led by longtime friend, Professor Mathias Lemmens from the Delft University of Technology in Holland. They were absorbing the technology like sponges. The Europeans have made great strides in modifying and adapting their educational opportunities to incorporate geo-tech. From my own experience, trade fair exhibitions like these gave me ideas that I would later incorporate into my survey practice. I applaud these teachers for creating such opportunities.

With some booths spreading as wide as 100 by 300 feet, and the dense throngs of attendees moving through the aisles, the show can be a bit overwhelming at times. But German hospitality triumphs; many of the booths contain bars, therefore it is possible to have a beer and discuss the latest offerings in a friendly and relaxing manner. Intergeo 2014 will be held next year in Germany’s capital city, Berlin. As always, we will be proud to represent the American surveying industry and remain on the lookout for ways in which to make money with geotechnology.

Marc Cheves is editor of the magazine.

A 266Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE