As we embark on a new year, which will encompass new questions, challenges, ideas and solutions, it is important that we take an active role in technological advancement. I’ve learned that one of the most fundamental steps a professional in most any industry can take is communicating their perspective.

I’ve attended quite a few conferences and exhibitions since joining the GeoDataPoint team, and I am always amazed by the knowledge gained during panels, whether they are focused on a particular technology, like LiDAR, or set of regulations, like those around drones. Every stakeholder has a certain mission and in order for business to carry on as well as possible, it is essential that different parties share their needs and listen to each other’s.

The passage of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Part 107 rule for small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) relied on a lot of feedback from commercial users of the technology. I’ve interviewed a number of surveyors and geospatial professionals who were pleasantly surprised by what ended up being allowed under the rule. That was not the result of luck or of the FAA reading the minds of business owners; it was the result of commercial drone users taking the time to share their concerns and wants, in writing, in Washington, D.C., and at conferences.

The same goes for software and hardware developments. When I walk around a tradeshow floor and hear that a product is taking off and doing well, I always ask the developer what went into it. One of the most common responses I get is, “listening to the users.” The most intelligent advancements, whether it be making a LiDAR sensor lighter or making it capable of collecting at a higher density, are usually inspired by feedback from the customer community.

We all complain from time to time about how, if only some tool were faster or more accurate or easier to use, we could be so much more productive. As an editor, for example, I’m always trying to figure out the fastest way to transcribe an interview. In those moments, if we aren’t already, we ought to jot the complaint down and respectfully share it with the manufacturer or developer in an email, over the phone or at our next conference. We aren’t in a position to grumble about inadequacies if we haven’t yet communicated our concerns. We can’t expect solution architects to read our minds when a new idea arises.

The communication goes both ways. If lawmakers and manufacturers aren’t willing to listen or aren’t accessible, they risk losing the respect of constituents and customers, and missing out on the valuable insight those users can share in advancing technology.

It isn’t always perfect. In order for both sides to benefit from any particular advancement or rule, compromise is essential. It would be great for surveyors if drones had unlimited altitude and could fly anywhere, but the FAA has safety and privacy to consider. It would be wonderful if a sensor with unprecedented accuracy could be as tiny as possible, but, at least for now, more bells and whistles come with bigger size and heavier weight.

As we kick off the new year with a fresh start, let us make communication more of a priority than ever. All stakeholders have a point of view that is of value in advancing geospatial technology and solutions, but they can’t make a positive difference if they aren’t shared.

How do you communicate with other industry stakeholders? How have your professional relationship-building experiences turned out? Shoot me an email at