This week I had the opportunity to promote safe data collection using terrestrial mobile LiDAR scanning (TMLS) at the Transportation Engineering and Safety Conference (TESC) on the Penn State University campus. My flight to Pennsylvania began with the discovery that an unexpected celebrity, University of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne, was aboard. Perhaps it’s not surprising that teamwork seems to be a recurring theme on this trip.

The keynote speaker at lunch was Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch. He addressed an audience of 500 other safety-minded professionals telling them they have “a duty to apply technology to transportation safety working as an industry with a collective set of ideas and technologies. You have to show a willingness to reinvent yourself.” Then, like a 52-yard field goal, Schoch went on to say, “Collectively we have to be willing to try new ideas, to push the envelope as a leader in safety.”

Push the envelope! Suddenly I was in the huddle getting pumped for a play that was coming my way. “Pushing the envelope” is a phrase that has guided me my entire career as a surveyor and into LiDAR technology. What is the technology designed to do? What can it do? What else can it do?

Schoch understands what I have been promoting for many years about LiDAR technology and the industry. He said we must embrace change as surveyors, engineers and the public driving sector—all of whom he called “shareholders”—as it applies to transportation safety and the role of technology. Instead of focusing on the past ways of approaching issues, we need to think more about the new tools that provide opportunities for a better, safer outcome.

Schoch went on to say that with immediate results showing immediate return, the funding will support these new tools because “the only way to get from today to tomorrow is by providing immediate benefits.” How refreshing to hear my shared passion for safety with promised support through teamwork and backed by funding!

TMLS is the tool that takes surveyors out of the red zone for safer data acquisition. As the vehicle moves at highways speeds unobtrusively in traffic, it is also safer for the traveling the public—no lane closures, no roadside distractions and no stopping. The immediate benefits reach beyond providing survey-grade accuracy at traditional survey cost. After all, the ability to save a life is priceless.