Editor's Points

Hope, Opportunity Abound for Surveyors

December 1, 2013
KEYWORDS NOAA / surveyors
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Winter is coming.

That’s the theme of the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones,” and it’s hammered home week after week as the main characters struggle through ever-more difficult times.

While “Game of Thrones” is a fantasy—a gritty one, at that—its theme keeps showing up more often, not only in pop culture but in everyday life. The phrase is repeated on social media and in newspaper headlines. Winter is coming.

As the calendar turns to December and the temperature gets colder, the phrase seems to be coming true, literally and figuratively. Against a backdrop of a government shutdown, partisan bickering and continued economic unease, it’s easy to think that winter is coming, indeed.

But winter is always coming. There are always hurdles and difficulties, even in the best of times. Change is a constant, and nowhere is change happening faster than in the geospatial community.

Look around. NOAA announced in October that it would stop making its traditional paper charts, which date back to the 19th century. Intergeo showcased change, with unmanned aircraft systems covering the convention hall in Essen, Germany. In November, the FAA released its first roadmap on civilian UAS integration, which could have a major impact on surveying and mapping professionals.

That change brings on challenges, no doubt. But it also brings a glimmer of hope, and, more importantly, opportunity.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey will use print-on-demand charts, which provide up-to-the-date information for navigators. Intergeo’s UASs and other innovations allow surveyors and geospatial professionals to work more quickly, more accurately and more efficiently. Significantly, the geospatial community is finding more ways to use the data and solve real-world problems.

Surveyors have shown they can adapt, from Mason and Dixon to the present day. After Superstorm Sandy struck and devastated large portions of the East Coast, surveyors were among the first on the scene to help in rebuilding efforts. In New Jersey, surveyors played a critical role in helping to rebuild a portion of Route 35 that was wiped out by the hurricane. And, now more than a year later, geospatial professionals are using GIS, photogrammetry and LiDAR to learn from Sandy and plan for future storms.

Sandy also showed the giving nature of surveyors. Many go beyond their professional calling to help others in need, and POB told the story of some of them this year.

In June, the magazine examined the work of Tate Jones and Allen Nobles in Haiti, where they surveyed space for a new community kitchen. In September, the magazine looked at the efforts of KnowledgeWell in Kosrae, where people such as Tim Cawood, PLS, helped preserve the Pacific island’s culture. In November, POB interviewed surveyor Steven W. Carper, who volunteered on projects in India and Haiti.

Those actions reflect not only the heart and resiliency of surveyors, but also how they help others bounce back.

Yes, winter is coming.

 But summer is coming, too. 

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