Point of Beginning

Guest Editorial- The winds of change.

September 2, 2008


The 2008 ESRI User Conference, which was held in San Diego August 2-8 in conjunction with the Survey & Engineering Summit, painted a distinct picture of some of the major accomplishments in our industry, along with some of the significant challenges faced by today’s geomatics professionals.

The scope of these conferences spanned from property boundary and cadastral surveying to machine control, from mapping the physical environment to mapping complex facilities, whether a single structure or an entire city. The focus varied from the details of property line encroachment to the depth of the database supporting the electronic map.

We heard about how the Arizona Professional Land Surveyors association has drawn geospatial information professionals completely into its ranks as peers of land surveyors. This action has reinvigorated the society, which has since accomplished many wonderful tasks--perhaps most notably the groundbreaking Spatial Data Accuracy and Georeferencing Standards file, which is now available on the Internet for anyone in the public or private sector to examine and adopt (www.azpls.org). This document is a reflection of the Arizona society’s strong statement that whether we are registered land surveyors or other geospatial data professionals, we are tied together in a continuum of activities, businesses, clients, products and services that are similar to many other professions. We are all geospatial professionals; we all share a common body of knowledge and yet have a unique knowledge base, as well, depending on our specialty. The most important truth is that we are colleagues--not antagonists or competitors.

At the end of the Survey & Engineering Summit plenary session, a panel discussed some of the issues surrounding machine control with an audience comprising surveyors, engineers and GIS professionals. The enthusiasm of the participants was notable−they constantly thought of challenges and potential solutions. They recognized the low number of young professionals entering the profession of surveying and worried that the result might be a drastic legislative reaction that would affect the laws governing the definition of surveying. At the same time, individuals expressed hope that such open and productive discussions would encourage the movers and shakers in the profession to further develop their thinking (and take action) for the benefit of the public and the profession.

National Geodetic Survey (NGS) Director David Zilkoski presented a talk on the re-engineering of the NGS. He divided the way the organization’s resources are consumed into three principal areas: monumentation, models and tools, and outside capacity. While the overwhelming majority of the organization’s current work is dedicated to monumentation, Zilkoski indicated that the NGS should direct future energy toward provisioning models and tools and developing outside capacity to communicate with end users of the national survey. (The proposals for how NGS will reconstitute itself can be found at www.ngs.noaa.gov.)

While Zilkoski’s talk focused on how he and his colleagues are reconfiguring NGS to better serve the public in the future, it served as a good example of how all of us should re-evaluate our priorities, reconsider how resources are allocated and renew our goals--particularly in a time when many of us are being affected both individually and professionally by factors outside of our control. Change is often difficult. Leaving the status quo behind can cause pangs of regret, if not sorrow. But change also presents an opportunity to engage in introspection and, from that, achieve new growth.

With that thought in mind, I would like to introduce, Christine (Kristi) Grahl as the new editor of POB. Kristi succeeds Lieca Hohner, who was the editor of this magazine for the past nine years.

Kristi is an APEX Award-winning writer and editor (www.apexawards.com/apexawards.htm) who has a significant background in editorial leadership. She has served on a number of BNP Media publications involved in construction, new products and new technologies, including titles such as Ceramic Industry, Finishing Today, Process Cooling and Environmental Design + Construction. She has spent the past 13 years working closely with engineers and entrepreneurs, helping them share their knowledge and insights through informative articles. Please welcome her as she ushers in a new age for POB and, through its pages, new opportunities for you to learn, evaluate, reposition and grow.

Look for a more in-depth review of the 2008 ESRI User Conference and Survey & Engineering Summit, along with Kristi’s first “Editor’s Points” column, in the October issue of POB. You can reach Kristi directly at pobeditor@bnpmedia.