Thought Leader: Orlando in ‘23

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.”*

With apologies to Robert Frost: We revisit our plan for Orlando, Florida in 2022, where we had intended to host a Congress of the International Federation of Surveyors, FIG. We expected it to be a highly successful event, similar to the Congress we hosted just 20 years before, in Washington, D.C., where FIG earned a profit of 60 thousand dollars (ACSM earned $300k, by the way).

We made our bid (our best-laid scheme) to the FIG General Assembly and put on the usual dog and pony show in Istanbul last May, with a modest measure of confidence that surely FIG would remember the grand event of 2002, would consider its own rules that recommend the Congresses and Working Weeks be moved from region to region with fairness of rotation recognizing that it had been 20 years since FIG held a major event in the Western Hemisphere. But it was not to be and the GA chose by a vote of 52 to 39 to hold the 2022 Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. We wish the South Africans well and hope that by 2022 the public water crisis in that region will have been solved.

There were some among the NSPS family that questioned our continued participation in FIG since the organization seemed to show so little respect for what we considered to be a superior opportunity to hold its key event in the number one meeting venue in the world: Orlando hosts over 11,000 meetings with over 10 million attendees annually, with easy low-cost international access and attractive prices guaranteed for 2022, not to mention events for the whole family.

The NSPS Board of Directors chose the high road at their October meeting. The Board rejected the impulse to walk away and instead decided, magnanimously, to repeat the generous invitation, this time to the event following the ’22 Congress, the 2023 FIG Working Week to be held, also, in Orlando. All the same benefits are to prevail both for FIG and for NSPS as were anticipated for the ’22 event.

A major benefit, for both organizations will be the participation of the Pan American Association of Surveying and Surveying Professionals, APPAT. The NSPS Board see this as an opportunity to build the profession in our Hemisphere to the benefit of both associations and, incidentally, to FIG as well. In fact APPAT, along with AAGS, the Canadian Institute of Geomatics and the Professional Surveyors of Canada had joined NSPS in endorsing and supporting the bid for the ’22 Congress. The Board is to be commended for its vision and leadership for the profession spanning the social and economic world powerhouse that is the Western Hemisphere.

I don’t intend to review the benefits to NSPS from its participation in FIG; that has been done before. Instead I would like to think of what we always gain from meeting together at the professional level where we exchange insights and experiences in the exercise of our craft. Thanks to the organizational talents of the local organizing group this 2023 event in Orlando will offer, in addition to the usual top-quality technical presentations from the global surveying profession, the simultaneous annual meeting of SaGES, our national educators; the all-important and enthusiastic participation of the Florida Surveying & Mapping Society; and the support of the Platinum level members of our corporate supporters. There will be available exclusive tours of the Kennedy Space Center, the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center, the Walt Disney World surveying and GIS departments and much more with world-class attractions for the whole family, as well.

*Gang aft a-gley: The poet’s way of saying, often goes from the intended line.

About the Author

Robert W Foster, PS, PE

Robert W. Foster, PS, PE, of Hopkinton, MA, is in private practice, offering professional consulting services nationally in arbitration, dispute resolution and litigation involving surveying and civil engineering issues. He is past president of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG).