The innovations that impact the geospatial profession don’t just raise questions about tool relevance; they raise questions about people relevance. Photogrammetry is just one example of a geospatial specialty that is becoming simplified due to automation in hardware and software.
Today, there is a disconnect between the reality of educational instruction, required competencies, workplace activities, and many state licensing laws in surveying; however, we are headed in the right direction to produce qualified geospatial professionals with up-to-date skills and expertise.
While there is a tendency to think that historical big GIS users like construction, civil engineering and surveying are in the vanguard of this new application development, it is actually new users of GIS and GPS that are paving the way to innovation.
One example of open data advancement is a project mandated by the Washington State Legislature in 2015, which involves the collection, processing and sharing of LiDAR data with the public by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The goal is to cover the entire state.
While precision agriculture is fundamentally a science, it can also become an art — especially when the geospatial characteristics of a field don't conform to a perfectly square or rectangular grid in a grower’s or consultant’s geographic information system (GIS), or when field topography is far from flat.
There is so much potential and there are so many needs on so many levels with respect to open geospatial data that still need to be addressed. It will require some serious forward thinking to make the data as meaningful as possible.
For utility companies that continue to use map books, there is growing awareness of information lapses and even disconnects between field crews and headquarters. “This is an area where mobile technology that now makes viewing GIS data in the field very practical can deliver enormous benefits,” says Brady Hustad, CEO of Argis Solutions.
Examples of locational data enrichment in geospatial applications include forestry mapping that can now include analysis of trees and ground cover, topography, and even soil composition and moisture content.
Evolving technologies and expectations have blurred the traditional distinction between surveying and GIS. As a result, surveyors should expect to be asked to provide more GIS-ready data and GIS professionals should plan to provide positions with higher accuracy than previously required.