Data Collection / Business Strategies for Surveyors / Surveying & Mapping Software

What's in Store for the Surveying Market in 2014?

What technology or trend will have the greatest impact on the surveying and geospatial markets in 2014?

“I think there will be a definite move to the Cloud. We’re seeing more people moving data up into the Cloud and then accessing it from their own mobile devices out in the field, pushing data back and forth from the field to the office through wireless connectivity.”
Lanny Schnipper, Segment Manager, Seiler Instrument & Manufacturing Co. Inc.


“Scanning, and specifically mobile scanning, seem to be piquing a lot of people’s interest. … The ability [of surveyors and other geospatial professionals] to collect large quantities of data and then market that information to their clients is going to be a big opportunity in 2014. That leads into not only terrestrial-based mobile scanning but also the possibility of UASs like the Trimble UX5 becoming a little more mainstream as a source of low level LiDAR-like data. And again, lots and lots of data that is readily accessible. We will also see increased power of the software to process that data. Those are going to be some of the big technology trends next year.”
George Allport Jr., President, Keystone Precision Instruments


“We’re seeing more integration with other technologies, whether it is depth sensors, other Bluetooth devices, long-range Bluetooth, things like that—integrating technology into the hardware to make it more sustainable as well as into software. Software is able to handle not just data from RTK and total stations, but other technologies including photogrammetry, things of that nature. Photogrammetry is definitely going to be a big one in 2014. It’s going to push companies to think a little bit differently about how they do things. We’re seeing a push from all kinds of UAS devices. New products like the Trimble V10 will promote visual documentation with photogrammetry. It is going to provide a new way of thinking about how to incorporate visual measurement within organizations.”
Steve Richter, Vice President, Frontier Precision


“Spatial imaging and georeferenced photography are going to be huge in the near future. With the things that can be done using georeferenced photography, I think that’s going to be big in 2014 and beyond.”
Bruce Gandelman, President, California Surveying and Drafting Supply Inc.


“Certainly, miniaturization and lighter equipment are going to be the developments on total stations and GNSS equipment. We may also see more seamless integration in terms of software between different GIS products.”
Farshad Behbahani, Repair Center Manager-Technology Solutions, Wagner Equipment Co.


“I think it’s probably the addition of imagery. We see more imagery and cameras involved in the surveying and data collection process. Trimble’s V10, from what we can tell, is probably the most exciting thing we’ve seen: You’re basically taking positions using pictures. What we’ve seen with Trimble robotic total stations that have Vision technology onboard to combine pictures into data collection offers tremendous benefits. This takes it to the next level. We’re hoping we see that drive new ways of doing business. There’s some real excitement around it among users who we’ve tested it with.”
Mark Duncan, President, Duncan-Parnell


How can surveyors and geospatial professionals prepare for the future?

“The early adopters become the experts. The first ones into a new technology tend to get a reputation and respect for innovative thinking from their customers and peers. Sometimes they can ride that wave for years into the future. … (Surveyors) need to embrace the new technology.”
Bruce Gandelman, President, California Surveying and Drafting Supply Inc.


“I think the best thing to do is just get familiar with [technology]. Start to learn about the technology, how it can be used in their workflows now and just start playing with it a little. We have people who use total station robots and we’ll give them one with Vision onboard. They start using it, test it on a project and just have fun and play with it. It opens their eyes with what’s possible. There are firms out there that can immediately see the benefits, jump on it and go for it. And then other people need the right project to present itself. In those instances, don’t be afraid to rent a robot with new technology or take a look at the detail when it hits the street.”
Mark Duncan, President, Duncan-Parnell


“First off, to get ready for (the Cloud) people need to understand and embrace it in their personal life and use it as much as possible. If you don’t have access to a smartphone, you need to get one. You need to get various apps, use specific business apps. I’ll use a common example, Dropbox, to understand how information moves back and forth. Play around with it with personal files, pictures. … Find out how data moves around in the Cloud. That’s the most important thing. As far as getting ready for the future, there is technology that ties in directly to the survey world that allows you to share and distribute information. … They should try to embrace and understand those technologies. I see that as one of several big disruptive forces that’s occurring. The other one that everyone should be very aware of is the whole concept of UASs. These unmanned aircraft allow you to capture a large amount of data in a short period of time. It seems like that’s constantly appearing in magazines like POB. I think word is getting out there. If someone is not paying attention to that, they are going to be left behind.”
Lanny Schnipper, Segment Manager, Seiler Instrument & Manufacturing Co. Inc.


“The portion of the surveying profession that is forward-thinking about marketing, the ability to produce and utilize information, is going to see some tremendous growth next year. They’re going to be the experts. They’re being pulled into a vacuum that doesn’t have a resident expert right now.”
George Allport Jr., President, Keystone Precision Instruments


What do you feel is the economic outlook for 2014?

“We’ve seen a bit of an uptick in the economics as far as companies picking up more jobs and adding on surveying crews that weren’t there in the past. I definitely see some optimism in 2014 for an improvement in the economic climate.”
Steve Richter, Vice President , Frontier Precision


“I would say it is optimistic. I think things will be better this time next year than they are now. I’m not too guarded on my optimism there. The only thing that could change that is if the federal government shuts down again. … Utilities, specifically, are another growth area. I see utilities starting to take on more technologies now. … I would recommend that surveyors look to expand into that market because  utilities are not as affected by the economy. Utilities are a market that’s relatively recession-proof. Overall, it’s a fairly stable market, especially one that is starting to really embrace new technology.”
Lanny Schnipper, Segment Manager, Seiler Instrument & Manufacturing Co. Inc.


“I’m optimistic. From what I’ve seen this year, we’ve seen some good growth from all the sectors—private, government, GIS. From a construction, design and AEC perspective, we’re seeing positive signs all the way up and down the board. It’s not 100 percent back by any stretch. But it’s been a pretty nice march up from the beginning of 2013. Based on some of the projects in the pipelines and some of the comments that our customers are telling us, we’re confident. The biggest thing is they’re actually adding people to their payrolls. When they do that, they’re adding equipment, they’re adding crews, and they’re adding software. They’re not making these additions lightly, so that means there are actual projects and demand. We serve the surveying, civil engineering and GIS markets, but we also serve the architects and construction side of the business as well. We see some good growth throughout all those areas. Overall, especially for the surveying and geospatial parts of our business, we expect more growth.”
Mark Duncan, President, Duncan-Parnell


“I think it’s getting better. From our perspective where we are seeing the improvement is when the surveyor or the surveying company is able to market their ability to process information intelligently for their customers. I’ve seen several companies who have been very successful in going into applications and markets that are not knowledgeable about land measurement, and saying, “Don’t worry about that. We will take care of the measurements and data.” For example, we’ve seen several companies have a high level of success in rail. Building construction, the advent of BIM and things like that are opening up opportunities for surveyors. There are opportunities in other niche or allied industries—not necessarily traditional surveying industries—that require the interpretation of measurement data.”
George Allport Jr., President, Keystone Precision Instruments


“I think next year is certainly going to be a fruitful year, much better than 2013. On a scale of 1-10, you might see a scale of 3 to 4 compared 2 or 3 from last year. It’s certainly the right direction, but I think it’s quite a ways from the pre-2007 days. Certainly the crews are feeding back information that they are getting busier. … People are getting more courageous to bid for work that has been shelved for a while now. Even those organizations who have cut crew members down to the lean are starting to hire people back. I think that kind of dynamic will continue. Some people will return to 9-to-5 jobs. Others may venture into the field on their own, buying new or used equipment and start bidding for work themselves. There are some good used systems out there for a relatively low outlay of capital. Those crews that have been out of work for a while, they might feel like running their own show.”
Farshad Behbahani, Repair Center Manager-Technology Solutions, Wagner Equipment Co.  

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