Advancing toward death?

Last month I presented the topic of technological evolution and how some advancements in equipment and software have the potential to displace a percentage of surveyors in the profession. My advice was (and is) to apply oneself in the appropriate ways and areas to utilize marketable skills to their greatest extent.

This month I want to center on those surveyors who are taking advantage of newer instrumentation that often requires but one worker, such as robotic and RTK GPS instrumentation. As much as we enjoy our "alone time," working alone means working without "spotters," if you will. Single person-operated equipment can be a blessing for sole proprietor business owners and managers in large companies alike, but opportunities for solo surveying could also lead to potential danger. The key word here is could, a conditional term.

I am not suggesting that you should not take advantage of advancements because they could potentially lead to injury or death. If we all lived by this philosophy, we wouldn't live much of a life. Although car accidents are the No. 1 source of deaths and injuries in many areas, many of us aren't turning in our personal vehicles for public transportation, are we? No. By the same token, you shouldn't limit professional opportunities like advanced technologies just because of statistical risk.

My point is that the successful progression of surveyors, including solo operators, can exist when partnered with smart, precautionary and cautionary actions for field jobs. Consider some of the instructions and a few questions given to a child or some other loved one heading out the door:

  • Don't forget your cell phone (and battery charger, etc.)!
  • Don't forget your lunch!
  • Look out for others!
  • Take an extra sweater or coat (for colder climates)!
  • Do you know where you're going? Do you know how to get there?
  • Do you have gas in your car (or work vehicle)?
  • Be back on time, or call if you're gonna be late!

This list could be extended depending on the weather and the destination to include another pair of socks, gloves, hand warmers, or bug spray, hat and sunscreen. Also, depending on the work, various protective equipment should be carried. Flashlights, whistles and umbrellas should be considered. Regardless of the work to be done, every worker should carry a first-aid kit with instructions.

Professionals should embrace advancements in the profession. However, it should be done with smart and safe measures. We may, indeed, see fewer bodies in the field as years go by. But, let's make sure it is in relation to technological progression alone, and not because we're losing lives.

One additional note: I found a very thorough and comprehensive manual for solo workers of various kinds. Click to www3.gov.ab.ca/hre/whs/publications/pdf/workingalone.pdf to check it out.