Point of Beginning

Association Update: MAPPS members seek to prosper in a troubled economy.

June 1, 2010
Figure 1. MAPPS’ semiannual economic survey of its members indicates that workforce reductions are decreasing.


With the economy still sputtering and job creation lagging, new technologies, emerging markets and legislation have been the focus of MAPPS in 2010.

Beginning in January 2009, MAPPS initiated a semiannual economic survey of its members. Modeled after a similar effort conducted by The Survey Association, an association of surveying and mapping firms in the United Kingdom, the MAPPS data collection found that as of the of beginning of 2010:

•           In general, economic activity and orders are still decreasing, but the rate of decrease has lessened. Further, federal orders have turned positive;

•           Gross revenue projections for 2010 are up;

•           There is still significant available capacity in private firms;

•           Decreases in the workforce are lessening (see Figure 1);

•           Decreases in capital investment are lessening; and

•           Stimulus funds have had little effect on MAPPS members; but USACE, NOAA are the leading sources for firms that have received ARRA contracts.

Practical Collaboration

During a winter meeting January 24-28 in Maui, Hawaii, MAPPS members played the role of elected representatives for a “mock Congress.” The guest Speaker of the House, State Rep. Gene Ward (R-Honolulu), presided over debates and votes on a bill to create a new management and governance structure for federal geospatial activities though the establishment of a National Geospatial Technology Administration (NGTA) within the USGS. Amendments debated in the legislative session addressed the national licensing of photogrammetrists, mapping of underground infrastructure, a national parcel system and federal land inventory, government competition, offshoring, geospatial research and development, export promotion, utilization of licensed geospatial data, and qualifications based selection of firms in geospatial services contracting.

The technical highlight was a session on new mobile mapping systems. The panel addressed a broad range of topics from the history of systems to future developments. The general consensus was that mobile mapping is a game-changing technology that will find its initial acceptance in moving traditional highway/rail data collection from the roadway to the back office. In addition, entirely new opportunities are emerging by adding new tools to the design and build phases of construction.

Legislative Action

During a MAPPS-hosted “lobby day” on March 10, held at the conclusion of the MAPPS Federal Programs Conference, more than 100 geospatial professionals descended on Capitol Hill for visits with more than 250 senators, congressional leaders and legislative staffs. The association members pushed for the Making America Prosperous Act, or MAP Act, to authorize the imagery for the nation program; a “Digital Coast” bill to collect layers of geospatial data in the near-shore ocean and along the coasts; Federal Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act to provide for a current, accurate inventory of federal land ownership; and increased government use of private surveying and mapping firms in lieu of “insourcing” or government competition with private enterprise. MAPPS also hosted a geospatial technology exhibition in the U.S. Capitol campus to demonstrate geospatial applications to these legislative issues.

The next event on the MAPPS agenda is its summer meeting, which will be held July 29-August 2 at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, Nev. Topics on the program include sensor fusion, GeoInt, cloud computing, insourcing, emerging new applications for geospatial data and a CFO roundtable.