Point of Beginning

Staying Relevant

December 6, 2011

In my last post, I mentioned the current attempt to remove the educational requirements for civil engineers to become a PLS. If you think I'm missing the mark, you should check out the service developed by First American called ExpressMap. ExpressMap's focus is to skip the time and cost of traditional ALTA surveys by using a flyover and publicly available data. Essentially, the technology and methods outside of what can be learned on a job site have come to influence the prime income maker for the licensed surveyor. At the same time, these professionals are trying to remove themselves from what can help them the most in the name of practicality and tradition.

This series of events reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend, who asked me if I thought he wasn’t able to keep up with what was valuable to his own business. His implication was that he would keep up with what was important without some inexperienced, fresh-out-of-college kid telling him what was best. My answer was: no, you don’t have any idea how far behind you are. It's not an attack or insult – just the facts. The reason there is a degree for surveying is a person’s inability to learn all the basics of spatial data acquisition and use without a structured environment run by people who have dedicated their lives to the profession.

College students are not overeducated technicians; a degree program is a great way to help our profession grow. Surveyors have a bright future, with surveying forming the base of a wide number of new and advancing industries. Just like ExpressMap coming out of the blue or Lightsquared threatening GPS, enterprises will always exist to challenge the validity of the surveyor. My preferred method to meet these challenges is to understand and create new solutions, much like what our detractors do but from within, and support my fellow surveyors.

What are you going to do? What are you doing to reaffirm the PLS's value? What technologies or ideas make the most sense to pursue?