Three new nonprofit associations are being formed or explored to serve professionals and firms involved in laser scanning, 3D imagery and associated fields.

The first to formally launch was the 3D Professional Association, or 3DPA (, which aims to promote information sharing and education pertaining to 3D imaging. According to Executive Director Ken Smerz, the association will help members become successful in achieving their objectives by providing a platform for cross-collaboration among diverse groups involved in 3D imaging on a global basis. Prospective members include organizations involved in architecture/engineering/construction (AEC), building information modeling (BIM), forensics, transportation, industry/manufacturing, energy, historical preservation, gaming/entertainment, defense/security, airborne LiDAR, film/entertainment, and academia.

Another association, led by Raymond Mandli of Mandli Communications Inc. and Rob Dingess of Mercer Strategic Alliance, is expected to formally launch by the end of April. Called the Geospatial Transportation Mapping Association, or GTMA (with a future website, the group intends to focus on network-level data collection and the creation of standards for applying 3D and point cloud data, particularly safety-related roadway data. “There is a lot of high-volume data collection that is happening right now that has a huge correlation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the proposed Highway Safety Data Improvement Program (HSDIP),” Mandli said. “Unfortunately, many state transportation departments don’t understand how to use the data. We want to first of all push for federal funding of the HSDIP, but then also foster education and collaboration among all of the participants.”

A third organization, called the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation, or USIBD (, is still in an exploratory phase but expects to move forward with incorporation. The organization seeks to actively promote, guide and support the building documentation industry with the objective of being a resource for service providers, seekers of building documentation services and other parties with an interest the built environment. Led by John Russo, AIA, president and CEO of Architectural Resource Consultants (ARC), the USIBD aims to bring together building owner/operators, architects, engineers, surveyors, government agencies, associations, the public and other professions involved in building documentation.

All three organizations have reported a substantial amount of interest from the surveying and mapping community. However, there is some concern that the advocacy and education efforts of existing associations will be diminished if they lose members and funding to other organizations. “The reality is that resources in our profession are already spread thin, so it’s unlikely that many firms will have room in their budgets for additional association membership dues,” said Curtis Sumner, executive director of ACSM. “Firms will need to take a hard look at which associations best serve their interests and objectives.”

Smerz, Mandli and Russo have all said that they do not intend to create conflict; rather, their goals are to fill gaps that they believe exist in the current-and rapidly changing-market. “We want to build bridges, not create walls,” Mandli said of the GTMA. “I think there are needs that the existing associations can’t fill right now because of where their members are focused. We’re coming from a different direction, and I think we’ll be able to meet in the middle. “There is a lot of work to do and, as a result, there could be many new jobs added to the industry,” he added.

Go behind the scenes with the executive directors from MAPPS, ASPRS, ACSM, 3DPA and others in POB’s new podcast series on professional associations at