The 2012 Survey Summit and ACSM Annual Conference, which took place July 21-24 in San Diego, drew an estimated 250 attendees. The “Road Ahead” theme was an apt metaphor. For the first time in a long time, there seems to be some doubt about the direction we are taking as a profession.
The 2012 Survey Summit and ACSM Annual Conference, which
took place July 21-24 in San Diego, drew an estimated 250 attendees. Instead of
being held at the San Diego Convention Center, which everyone agreed was too
large for the group, this year’s Summit was relocated a few blocks northwest to
the Manchester Grand Hyatt overlooking Seaport Village.
The theme for 2012 was “The Road Ahead.” Curt Sumner,
executive director of NSPS, delineated some of the administrative challenges in
reorganizing the national organizations for surveyors. Brent Jones, the
outgoing Esri Survey Summit coordinator, opined that the cloud has “changed the
footprint of surveying and GIS more than anything to date.”
As in past years, the Summit overlapped the Esri
International User Conference, which reportedly drew a crowd of nearly 15,000
people. Although a number of exhibiters and presenters were “defunded” and
therefore absent as a result of the General Services Administration spending
scandal, the show floor was still huge.
During a media “Lunch with Jack” session on July 24, Esri
founder and president Jack Dangermond said that “the world is going to a
services model,” and the new look at Esri will be themed “geography as a
platform.” What does this mean? Well, it’s good news for small businesses. The
shift to software services in the cloud along with the data allows just about
anyone to publish and share their own data pages. They can also take their apps
to the field with iPhones and other mobile devices.
The “Road Ahead” theme from the Summit is an apt metaphor.
For the first time in a long time, there seems to be some doubt about the direction
we are taking as a profession. I believe this has something to do with the
cloud. While all of the traditional “new toys” could be held in our hands, the
cloud is amorphous and ephemeral-we can’t buy it and own it.
In the past, we knew where the road ahead was because we had
the plans and we surveyed it. Today, it’s much less clear. One thing GIS has in
common with surveying is that it is not just a job or a profession-it’s more
like a belief system or a religion.
The GIS crowd pretty much all showed up at this year’s
Summit. The surveyors, at least en masse, didn’t. Maybe the road ahead has a
fork in it. I hope not.