Surveying is like so many professions today … including my own, journalism. Technology is changing the game.

How do you feel about technology’s impact on what you do?

Usually technology, or anything that causes change in someone’s work routine, winds up being mostly good and slightly bad. No one likes to change. But so many possibilities open up with change.

June’s HxGN LIVE conference in Las Vegas featured a wealth of fascinating technology and ideas. The keynote speech by Ola Rollen was highlighted by the notion that creating data for one purpose isn’t good enough anymore. In today’s world of data collection, that information needs to be used for several purposes, for several customers, for it to become more cost-effective.

You might be mobile mapping a roadway for a utility company that wants the information for maintenance. That same data could also be used by public officials for safety or evacuation routes. Another use of the same data could be work on the roadway itself.

Of the technology innovations that were being talked about at the conference, Leica’s integrated scanner, the Nova MS50, was garnering a lot of positive feedback

From talking to users, what struck me was that integrated scanners have become both an entry point for companies wanting to get into scanning as well as an additional tool for those who already use a dedicated scanner.

One surveyor said that with several offices in several states, his company had only a few dedicated scanners that had to be shipped back and forth. With an integrated scanner being able to do more traditional jobs as well as being less expensive, it was cost-effective to use a tool like the MS50 at each office.

“These are always the barriers for technology to utilize,” said Ken Mooyman, president of Leica Geosystems, NAFTA. “Those are almost eliminated with the MS50 for traditional surveyors. … If you talk to many of the surveyors with a broad definition of surveying, their businesses have really morphed over the years to take advantage of this proliferation of high-accuracy geospatial data in industries.”

Several of the surveyors I spoke with highlighted the ease of use with an integrated scanner as being a big plus.

A mobile mapping unit that was first released in Europe and is now in North America, Leica’s Pegasus:Two, was another intriguing technology at HxGN LIVE.

As with most innovations, ease-of-use increases as the technology becomes more entrenched. The Pegasus:Two was on the showroom floor at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand conference center, atop a van with Michigan license plates. Asked how difficult the mobile mapping device is to use, the answer was, “Turn it on and drive.”

Technology can be scary. No matter how competent one is with it, the introduction of something new takes us out of our comfort zone.

Here’s the thing though. There’s no going back. I’ve seen it in newsrooms and it happens in all professions: People want to go back to a time when they were comfortable with everything they were asked to do at work. But the only way to find a new comfort zone is by moving forward, not looking back.