Point of Beginning

What do you think is the most significant change that has occurred in the industry since you’ve been involved?

June 1, 2000
Point of View, June 2000. Over the years, the surveying industry has changed through technology—and many surveyors have changed their roles, providing more (or different) services to their clients.

Over the years, the surveying industry has changed through technology—and many surveyors have changed their roles, providing more (or different) services to their clients. Of the 59 responses to our May POB Online Point of View question, the majority said they have been in the industry for 21 to 30 years (23 respondents, 11 to 20 years (15 respondents) and 31 to 40 years (10 respondents). Most—again, 23 respondents—said their job titles have changed four times over the years; eighteen said it has changed so many times they lost track. Today, 31 said they practice 1 to 2 disciplines; 21 practice 3 to 4 disciplines; three practice 5 to 6 disciplines and three said they do it all. As to which particular disciplines they perform, we received a plethora of answers. The majority included: boundary surveys (7); land surveying (7); engineering (5); civil engineering (4); GIS, construction engineering, topographic, construction, cadastral engineering (2 responses each). Other answers included cartography, storm drain and storm water management design, archaeology, architecture, photogrammetry, right of way, and site design and development.

In response to the question, “What do you think is the most significant change that has occurred in the industry since you’ve been involved?” we received answers including GPS, total stations, data collectors, GIS, continuing education requirements for license renewal, satellite surveying, AutoCAD and Electronic Distance Meters.

Here are some comments:

“The computerization of our profession has changed the way we operate completely. It has changed the range of our services, the areas in which we work and our communication with each other. For the most part, it has improved each of these areas.”—PLS, Ariz.

“The use of GPS has significantly increased outputs for lower cost.”—LS, Colo.

“The advent of smaller, more powerful computers to perform calculations and drafting. This has led to untrained individuals computing and drafting surveys, legal descriptions and subdivision plats.”—PLS, Colo.

“The reduction in the size of the field crew and the increased speed in map and plat production provided by technological advances and innovation.”—PLS/GIS Manager, Ariz., Calif., Colo.

“The huge changes in equipment. The little black box we all joked about is almost here.”—LS, Id.

“The advent of CADD software. We have been using AutoCAD and DCA (now Softdesk) since DCA’s inception. We provide our survey crews with pre-computed construction stakeout data, which has helped our company in many ways: more efficient use of a field crew’s time, especially on lump sum and per unit (not per hour) projects and reduced potential for field errors.”—Project Surveyor, Del.

“Electronic field instrumentation and computer software. I consider myself one of the last of the generation who knows what is and how to chain and read a vernier…Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss those days at all.”—PLS, Md.

“Dependency on machines as opposed to the brain of the surveyor.”—Associate/LS, Ill.

“Attitude. Surveyors were once service providers. There has been a paradigm shift toward turf protection and litigation.”—Owner/LS, Mont.

“Data collectors. They save tremendous amounts of time reducing points into the DWG.”—Survey Party Chief, N.Y.

“The lack of actual surveying ability, due mostly to four-year wonders coming out of school, then going straight to the office and doing construction layout drawings for four years. Yet they are still (somehow) able to get licensed and are now trying their hand at boundary work. The plats sure are pretty though.”—Crew coordinator, Ohio

“Positive change—computers. In computations, in CAD, in total stations, in data collections, in GPS receivers.”—VP/Owner, RLS, La.

“Electronic calculators were the beginning of the electronic revolution.”—Senior Drafter, Ken., W. Va.