MAPPS members took the surveying profession’s campaign for responsible use of unmanned aerial vehicles to Wisconsin lawmakers this week.

MAPPS Members Address Wisconsin Legislature

From the left: Paul Braun and Dave Hart, Continental Mapping Consultants; Wisconsin State Rep. Adam Neylon; Kirk Contrucci, Ayres Associates; and George Southard, Trimble Navigation.

Kirk Contrucci of Ayres Associates, Inc., George Southard of Trimble Navigation Limited and Paul Braun of Continental Mapping Consultants delivered testimony to the Wisconsin General Assembly. They presented to the legislators the merits and benefits of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations for surveying, mapping and geospatial applications, among other opportunities for the betterment of society overall.

“Photogrammetry, the science of making maps from aerial photographs, is an established, accepted, legal, ethical and growing business practice,” said Southard, who is also an ex-officio member of the MAPPS Board of Directors. “UAVs are simply another platform like satellites and airplanes being used to carry cameras and other sensors into the air to collect data for precise earth mapping applications. These images and geospatial data are essential to commercial and governmental activities.”

Speaking to the societal benefits of UAVs, “imagery and geospatial data is essential to E911 emergency response, disaster mitigation, precision agriculture, management of stormwater runoff, floodplain mapping, equitable assessment of local property taxes, and other routine applications by all levels of local government on a daily basis,” Contrucci told the legislators. “It’s also a foundational element for engineering, design and construction of a wide range of infrastructure improvements, and is routinely integrated into GPS navigation systems in vehicles and on handheld devices that are proliferating among consumers today.”

In addressing the Federal Aviation Administration’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making for commercial use of UAVs, “surveying and mapping businesses need the ability to fly over areas where infrastructure and people exist,” said Braun. Examples include:

  • mapping parcels for infill development such as industrial parks
  • environmental remediation or construction sites over time
  • corridors for telecommunications and utility lines
  • flood modeling (including bridges, levees, and topography)
  • industrial plants for energy generation and distribution.

The invitation for MAPPS members to testify at the hearing came from State Rep. Adam Neylon, based on a presentation this past December before the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) by MAPPS executive director John Palatiello. MAPPS is a member of the NCSL Partnership on UAVs. “Photogrammetry and remote sensing provide enormous societal benefit, whether from a satellite, manned aircraft or a UAV,” said Palatiello. “These professional activities have been in existence for decades without problem or controversy. We commend Rep. Neylon for exploring the economic potential of geospatial activities from UAVs and the benefits to be realized by the citizens of Wisconsin. His hearing will assure that any state legislation does not have unintended consequences.”


The Management Association for Private Photogrammetic Surveyors based in Reston, Va., MAPPS is the only national association of firms in the surveying, spatial data and geographic information systems fields, and is a leading voice in the geospatial community advocating for open airspace for commercial UAVs. MAPPS member firms are engaged in surveying, photogrammetry, satellite and airborne remote sensing, aerial photography, hydrography, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversion services. Associate members are engaged in the manufacturing and/or supplying of geospatial equipment, services, supplies, hardware or software to geospatial services firms, many of which are MAPPS member firms.