Late winter and early spring have traditionally been off-season for surveyors, who once used this time for professional development hours and conferencing because of weather. Technology is changing all that, however. Topographic surveys can be acquired at the desktop, virtually walking the field through measureable point cloud data accompanied by georeferenced, time-stamped imagery. Tool sets that run inside of MicroStation, like TerraSolid and TopoDOT, easily handle point cloud data collected by terrestrial mobile LiDAR scan systems and extend the working season. Software applications provide versatile and capable tools for anyone who needs to process and utilize 3D LiDAR data: surveyors, civil engineers, designers, planners.

Despite the changing workflows, conferences remain an important way to keep up with technology and network with peers, so we still make them a priority. For the past 10 years we have marked the start of spring by attending the SPAR International conference, traditionally held in Houston. This year, the event organizers moved the conference to Colorado Springs, where some amazing new technology was on display. uGRIDD, a web-based service provider for georeferenced infrastructure data, provides a platform for public and private sharing of information. It features time saving tools to retrieve and/or process data in Map2CAD, Data2KML, and uMeasure, which is free. Also, we are starting to see new indoor scan solutions with handheld mobile scanners, like DotProduct’s 3D handheld, which is long on innovation and short on range, and 3DLM’s ZEB1. If you are in the market for a handheld scanner, these two provide a good starting point for evaluation.

Over the past several months, we have attended more than half of the nation’s state surveyor conferences—16 conferences just this season—to network with surveyors and transportation engineers throughout the country. It has been great to see all the familiar faces at the conferences as well as make some new contacts. The people who attend these conferences year after year are truly amazing professionals.