Point of Beginning

Editor's Points: The rapid advance of the e-revolution.

March 1, 2010
For the second time in as many months, I again heard someone say that the surveying profession will be so different in 10 years that we won’t even recognize it. 



For the second time in as many months, I again heard someone say that the surveying profession will be so different in 10 years that we won’t even recognize it.

Admittedly, some of the changes that are now occurring have been a long time in coming. But the thought that a complete transformation is under way and will, in fact, occur quite rapidly, is a little disconcerting.

Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the individuals leading the charge.

I recently spoke with one of those agents of change. Michael J. Pallamary, PLS, principal of Pallamary and Associates in La Jolla, Calif., has spent the last decade quietly--and, sometimes, not so quietly--analyzing the technological advances and the shifting needs of the market in preparation for the next stage of the profession. One of the founding members of California’s new Land Surveyors Advisory Council on Technical Standards (LSACTS), Pallamary again created a stir in February when he launched www.tiepoints.com, a Web site “developed to assist professional land surveyors and others interested in researching and obtaining copies of vital survey records throughout the State of California.”

The Web site compiles online surveying and GIS records along with resources for locating physical records and research agencies. “Our profession is extraordinarily unique in that we understand the value of a notation in a 100-year-old record book,” Pallamary said. “But a lot of the recent graduates and students really have no appreciation for hard-copy documents. Their attitude is that if it’s not electronic, it doesn’t exist. What I’m trying to do is provide a bridge so that we can retain these old documents because they are valuable. In some cases, they’re the most valuable documents we have.”

Pallamary said his two primary goals with the new Web site are to generate renewed interest in these older records and to provide a vehicle to make those records--along with newer GIS data--more readily available to the surveying community. He hopes to entice other surveyors to participate in the new system through sponsor pages, whereby firms can highlight their expertise in researching and interpreting land records in specific counties.

But in a broader sense, he also aims to engage surveyors in dialogue about the future of the profession. “We’re at such a critical juncture right now,” Pallamary said. “We’re coming through a major conversion. When the economy comes back, there’s going to be a revolution in data management and online access, and I’m trying to get ahead of that curve. People don’t have to agree with me, but I think the resulting dialogue can be very valuable in understanding how to adapt to the changing environment.”

Pallamary said the response he’s received so far has been overwhelmingly positive. One poster on RPLS.com enthusiastically endorsed the new resource saying, “It is fantastic!” Whether or not you agree with that sentiment, you have to at least admit that the Web site is a harbinger of changes still to come.

The e-revolution is advancing. Are you ready?

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