Concepts of geographic information systems (GIS) have been around for more than 100 years, when our forefathers first started making maps to chart epidemics, for example. GIS began to take off in the early 1980s, when software-makers integrated mapping into computer-aided design.

Today’s GIS tools allow users to create searches, analyze spatial information and edit data to reveal spatial relationships, patterns and trends in an easily understood manner. The adoption of these technologies is having a positive impact on the surveying and mapping professions. According to POB’s study of GIS trends in surveying, firms are turning to GIS tools and software to serve clients.

Conducted by BNP Media’s market research department, the study provides insights on how surveyors are dealing with changing markets and converging technologies. The following are highlights from POB's 2013 report.

GIS Tools Going Mainstream

  • 55% of respondents use GIS in surveying workflows or offer it to clients.
  • 69% of GIS users started using GIS software in the last two years.
  • 78% of GIS users report that clients are asking for more GIS services.

Recently Added GIS Tools

The majority of firms have recently integrated desktop GIS software into their workflows.

Surveyors Can Lead

81% of GIS users say that the surveying profession has the opportunity to lead in GIS but isn't moving quickly enough.

Clients are Asking for It

52% of GIS users say that communicating the value of GIS has been the biggest driver of increased demand, and 30% of respondents say cloud-based GIS has the most potential for improving client services.

What are the Most Important Capabilities of GIS Software?

Among the most important capabilities of GIS software, the following ranked the highest:

  • integration with other software and hardware
  • the ability to easily translate between different data formats and applications
  • the ability to add imagery and LiDAR
  • powerful editing and layering tools

Education Required

67% of GIS users and 34% of non-users plan to take GIS technology training in the next 12 months. However, 34% of respondents say colleges and universities are not preparing students well enough in GIS, and 40% of respondents say there are not enough training opportunities in GIS available for surveyors.

Spending Habits

39% of GIS users and 19% of non-users plan to purchase GIS tools in the next 12 months. Among all who plan to buy GIS tools in the next 12 months, 81% plan to invest in GIS software.


2013 GIS Survey Trends
Download the PDF of the 2013 GIS Trends Study