Point of Beginning

Surveying GIS: The 2012 Survey Summit

July 25, 2012
The 2012 Survey Summit andACSM Annual Conference took place July 21-24, in San Diego with the theme "The Road Ahead." Here's a glimpse of what that road looks like.

Curt Sumner, executive director of NSPS.


The 2012 Survey Summit and ACSM Annual Conference took place this week, July 21-24, in San Diego. Instead of being held at the San Diego Convention Center, which everyone agreed was too large for the group, this year’s Summit was relocated a few blocks northwest to the Manchester Grand Hyatt overlooking Seaport Village.

There were some changes to the format as well. Panel discussions were replaced with “Lightning Talks.” Moderator Donnie Sosa opened the program with a rousing guitar rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and we got into the lightning round. Brent Jones, the outgoing Esri Survey Summit coordinator, gave a quick overview of what has been accomplished in the 10 years since the Summit began.

The true focus of the Summit is to galvanize our national survey organizations. I have been privileged to attend and cover all of the Summits and meet with some of the best and brightest in the profession. More than 25 years ago when I participated in BLM’s Advanced Cadastral Surveying program, the theme was “our profession is shrinking.” Actually, it’s just evolving. Everyone at this conference “gets it.”

In 2011, the loudest “buzz” in the room was the LightSquared issue. At least for the time being, we have dodged that bullet. Curt Sumner, executive director of NSPS, pointed out that the threat has not entirely passed. “The spectrum game is not over,” as Jones put it.

The theme for 2012 was “The Road Ahead.” Sumner delineated some of the administrative challenges in reorganizing the national organizations for surveyors. Jones opined that the cloud has “changed the footprint of surveying and GIS more than anything to date.”

Although there were fewer sessions than in past years, some of them were excellent. Independent consultant and POB contributor Joseph V.R. Paiva gave a sterling presentation on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and how they could impact the future of the mapping industry. A. Rich Vannozzi, NSPS 2102 Educator of the Year, gave a detailed outline of the nuts and bolts of integrating GIS into a small to medium-sized survey firm. “Defining the Authoritative Roles and Responsibilities for Cadastral Records,” presented Jack Avis and Coleen Johnson, generated a significant amount of discussion. And NGS gave several presentations about their new geodetic tools and gave an outline of Geoid 2012.

These subjects will be covered in more detail in future articles.

The next Survey Summit will be held July 9-13, 2013, and will be managed by Esri’s David Totman. There will also be a coordinated effort to conduct another Survey USA event in early 2013.

The upshot of all this is that the modern surveyor’s toolbox is expanding, and our role will need to expand to be relevant in the future. If you don’t have a copy of the September 2011 SaLIS journal featuring the “Surveying Body of Knowledge” overview, you might want to consider obtaining it.