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The Data Czar: Bringing GIS Back Home

August 5, 2009
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If we were to take a quick poll to rate the importance given to the measurement as opposed to the management of data, we may find that the latter is severely lacking. We are caught up in a world where the wonder of satellites beaming invisible streams of data to our base stations and the ability to capture data at ”laser speed” would boggle the minds of the early “rope stretchers” of Egypt and Babylon. Yet the care and effort taken to collect the massive amounts of measurements of features both above and below the Earth’s surface pales in comparison to the storage and usage of these measurements.

We are drawn in and controlled by our limited use of software applications and knowledge of information technology to faithfully manipulate our prized possession-our data. Surveying is neatly tucked in under the geosciences and, as a result, encompasses more than just data collection; it consists of data manipulation, as well. However, we download data (or, for that matter, drop it into a folder on the server), process it, turn it into a map and promptly forget about it.

It is no wonder that geographic information systems and surveying are in a state of turmoil over supremacy. The information-conscious among us seized the opportunity to manipulate the data left on the servers, and the birth of geographic information systems began. As this realization occurred to the surveyor, the battle to regain control of collected data ensued.

How can we bring back geographic information systems to where they belong--in the realm of the surveyor? Embrace data management and purposely use data techniques to enhance the surveying profession not just as a means of collection but as a methodology that will facilitate business intelligence as the embodiment of your surveying company. The steps are simple: Take care of your data, and understand how incorporating it into your business processes can help drive the future of your business. By following these principles, you can bring GIS back home.


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What do you think? Is the GIS professional vs. surveyor debate really so simple, or are larger issues at play? Please share your thoughts below.

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