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Editor's Points: Just a Spark

March 25, 2011
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In early 2010, Bruce D. Bowden, president of the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors (WSLS), had an idea. National Surveyors Week was right around the corner, and everyone was brainstorming ways to help promote the profession. What about a world record land survey to kick off the annual week-long celebration of surveyors?

On March 20, 2010, approximately 30 surveyors around Wisconsin embarked on a project to simultaneously locate points to within 1 cm. Their immediate objective was to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for “The Largest Single Day Land Survey.” On a broader scale, the goal was publicity.

An outsider might have viewed the event as a failure. Aside from a small write-up in the local paper, the event didn’t generate much media coverage. And although the Wisconsin effort quite likely was the largest single-day land survey to date, the Guinness Book of World Records rejected the group’s application without giving a reason. The efforts of Bowden and the WSLS appeared to be for naught.

Several states to the west, however, Debi Anderson, the NSPS governor in Montana, was watching the Wisconsin event with interest. Maybe the decision-makers at the Guinness Book of World Records weren’t impressed with one state’s effort. But wouldn’t they have to acknowledge an event that took place on a national scale? And if surveyors around the nation would be willing to participate in a simultaneous observation, wouldn’t that generate some excitement and publicity both within and outside of the profession? Anderson threw down the gauntlet, and the NSPS governors accepted the challenge. NSPS Surveying USA was born.

On March 19, 2011, I was at Macomb Community College in Michigan for an event led by Craig Amey, PS, NSPS Surveying USA coordinator for the state. The weather was perfect, and the students and local surveyors who participated--about a dozen people total at that location--were excited about the opportunity to be part of a much larger initiative. In a video interview (online at www.rpls.com), Amey said that he hoped the national event would inspire more students to get involved in the profession and would also help increase awareness about the profession among the general public. He estimated that the participation in Michigan alone was around 100 to 150 people. Around the nation, the total number of participants was estimated to be over 1,000.

Will it be enough to make the Guinness Book of World Records? That’s difficult to say. But the spark that was lit by Bowden and the WSLS last year has started a fire that just might transform the landscape of surveying for future generations. “I would bet that the event goes international next year,” Bowden says.

I wouldn’t bet against it.

P.S. Share your photos and videos from NSPS Surveying USA events at RPLS.com, and you could win a Trimble Juno SC handheld! Visit www.rpls.com/contest for the full contest rules and details.

Share your thoughts on this column at www.pobonline.com or www.rpls.com. To contact the editor, send an e-mail to pobeditor@bnpmedia.com.

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