Every April, there may be no busier destination in the U.S. than the D.C. area. Regardless of how low public opinion may be of the “work” that gets done there most of the time, Americans and international visitors alike absolutely love to flock to the Capitol and all that surrounds it. Whether or not it’s simply a matter of shaking off winter hibernation in the most encouraging and vibrant of spring environments, or perhaps something more patriotically salient, the spring draw to D.C. remains one of this nation’s truly inspiring and endearing rites of passage … every year.

Surveying, mapping and geospatial professionals have been among those annually trekking to Washington; specifically, members of the Management Association for Private Photogrammetic Surveyors (MAPPS) each year work Capitol Hill in their spring lobby day, leveraging their collective voice to bring about legislation and funding beneficial to the profession … hopefully.

That certainly happened again this year, but it was only part of the show that MAPPS and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) pulled into their big tent. Held across the river in Arlington, Va., the National Surveying, Mapping and Geospatial Conference not only featured the NSPS annual meeting, committee meetings and student competition, as well as assorted MAPPS and co-held meetings, but also sessions featuring various governmental entities. These included the National Geodetic Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Homeland Security, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bureau of Land Management and Army Geospatial Center, among others.

Collaboration: The Map of the Future, as the week-long conference was pegged, had a lot of moving parts. Depending on which organization(s) an attendee was affiliated with, the investment of time could range from a half-day to five days. To say it was a celebration of the profession would be an understatement. Top-drawer vendors were also on hand, not only lending their support to the greater professional causes, but also available to answer queries about their specific products and services.

Among the messages taken to Capitol Hill was the need for $70 million in fiscal year 2016 for the U.S. Geological Survey’s three-dimensional elevation program (3DEP), which aims to map the nation “using LiDAR to provide high-quality, detailed, accurate, topographic, 3D imagery,” says MAPPS. An initiative of MAPPS included the rollout of the www.3DEP4America.com website, advertisements in the Capitol Hill newspaper, and publication of a very impressive 3DEP coffee table book. “There is a critical need for national elevation data,” explained the profession’s biggest friend and booster, John Palatiello, executive director of MAPPS. “The applications are far-reaching and the cost is minimal compared to the benefits.

“And there is a capable, knowledgeable, qualified private sector to fill that need.”

Ironically enough, on the very day MAPPS members went to the Hill to launch the campaign, an unwelcome visitor arrived on the Capitol’s West Lawn via gyrocopter. Needless to say, the stunt resulted in a brief lockdown … and, for MAPPS, perhaps a little more time to drive home a message important to the profession.

Who says no good work gets done in Washington?

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