From the day that Europeans set foot in America the surveyor has been expected to document feature attributes including flora, fauna, soil classifications, bodies of water, type and nature of structures and fences. The great cadastral surveys of the American west were focused on the collection of feature attributes. The forefathers of geospatial info related mountains, streams, and saltlicks with rudimentary precision. Conversely, accurate descriptions and the magnitude of features were the real value of the survey. Nothing has changed with the moon landing. We’re just doing the same thing in an artificial frontier.
Modern imagery supplemented with feature data often provides sufficient info for municipal decision makers to arrive at effective solutions. Likewise municipal maintenance doesn’t necessarily require a set of engineering drawings. What’s important is managing the tasks around the infrastructure. The dependence on knowing who, what, where, when, why, and cost, exceeds the public desire for a certified gnat’s ass punch mark on an object you’re going to trip over anyway. The surveyor’s value to a public agency is ensuring that work was performed with care under the charge of the competent registrant. Cities don’t need a Superman flying around the world backwards to reshape the geoid. They need folks that can manage geospatial projects and maintain the built environment. Analytics from this data are what the community leaders use to repave your street, build the trails in your park, and keep your house from burning down.
The current state of the profession most certainly capitalizes on our tools and ability to capture data. Contemporary knowledge, skills, and abilities include database management, scripting, and systems troubleshooting. Connectivity, positioning, and software are also in the tool belt. A surveyor’s value in a modern organization is greatly enhanced by database manipulation, connectivity troubleshooting, hardware/software compatibility, and most certainly a minimum competence with ESRI’s platform.
I recently watched the Carlson Software team wrap it all up in a user friendly package that hands the keys to the kingdom back over to the surveyor. We’re there folks! Every surveyor, no matter how big or small owns a piece of the GIS pie and a seat at the table. The next step is finding fresh talent in our overly ripened demographic. Look for the bright bulbs that are engaged in data connectivity fields. The ambitious kid that helped you at the mobile phone store did the following; Engaged the helpless client (you), collected background information regarding the need or scope of services, troubleshot the symptoms, analyzed the hardware and software, resolved the issue, then documented the incident attributes in a database. The solution driven self-motivated mindset has always prevailed in surveying. Heck, that’s what makes a party chief, right?
I can’t believe I still hear some ding-a-lings say stuff like “GIS stands for Get It Surveyed”. For twenty five years they’ve belittled the value of GIS and quite frankly I’m done with their poo-pooing. This behavior is nothing more than laziness toward professional development. Fools afraid of tools project their inferiority complex by casting doubt when in fact they are just admitting their own professional and technical ignorance. The contemporary surveyor has the greatest mapping tools in the history of civilization. Lead, follow, or get out of the way, but for God’s sake don’t decry the opportunity then pull the “sky is falling” routine when someone else embraces it. Ironically, the good news is these naysayers are washing themselves out of our profession. I guess Darwin was right after all.