President Donald Trump signed a presidential executive order on Dec. 20, 2017 which could benefit the private-sector geospatial community. It all depends on how the order is implemented.
The executive order, “Presidential Executive Order on a Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals,” contains a lot of language about reducing U.S. dependence on foreign-sourced strategic minerals and the vulnerability of those supply chains to disruption, but it also calls for high-quality geospatial data.
Specifically, the executive order calls for “ensuring that our miners and producers have electronic access to the most advanced topographic, geologic, and geophysical data within U.S. territory to the extent permitted by law and subject to appropriate limitations for purposes of privacy and security, including appropriate limitations to protect critical infrastructure data such as those related to national security areas. . .. [emphasis added].
The order’s implementation also calls for actions within 180 days of the date that the Secretary of the Interior publishes a list of critical minerals called for elsewhere in the order. Among those actions is “a plan to improve the topographic, geologic, and geophysical mapping of the United States and make the resulting data and metadata electronically accessible, to the extent permitted by law and subject to appropriate limitations for purposes of privacy and security, to support private sector mineral exploration of critical minerals. . ..”
How much benefit this will have for private-sector surveyors and geospatial professionals remains to be seen. Regulations calling for government agencies to use private-sector services where possible and to avoid competing with private-sector services suggest an increase in mapping activities and mining should drive demand for land surveys and other geospatial services.