Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying? 

Professional Surveyor Boards » In the News » Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying?

Name Message
Posts: 9

Joined: 11/6/2008
Topic  Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying?       Flag »  Reply »
Read J. Allison Butler's Guest Editorial in our August issue and add your comments.
  Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 12:49:14 PM
Posts: 1

Joined: 8/1/2011
Reply  Re: Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying? Flag »  Reply »
JAB- thanks for a stimulating and frustrating article. I'm coming at this from my own perspective as a GISP working in government related spatial work at a nonprofit, I'm a former licensed land surveyor in Australia, now working in California.

I'm happy for you that they never bothered to suck up your time with any legal action, but it would have provided an interesting test of just what is what in this field. This is somewhat reminiscent of the legal cases against county's to release their parcel basemap data at cost, a mistaken attitude on just what government is supposed to be- a platform and a support/service, not a business. For the FSMS to take it's approach with you on this it has to be operating out of abject fear or ignorance, given the hundreds of community groups and agencies doing basic asset mapping and feature surveying in their communities, the huge Open Street Map movement, the Google Maps community and even ESRI's community maps program. Add this to all of us mountain bikers making trail recordings that feature precise locations, angles, elevations and more, how can any organization even claim dominance over such methods, technology and abilities?

Given the pace of technology and how it is out-dating our professions and job descriptions faster than we can recalibrate our university training programs we all need to be responsive to just what the real value/need for our professions are. Should a utility want to
  • know the precise location of a pipe valve,
  • a company need to build a large retaining wall,
  • rebuild a road,
  • locate a new facility,
these are all tasks I would want and expect a formally qualified surveyor to undertake. I personally appreciate the need for rigor and traceable accuracy in this work. If I want to know:
  • where all the trees are in my city,
  • where parks are and their condition,
  • what people think of certain corners re safety at night,
  • to create a building footprint for a crime map using some free satellite imagery
 or something like this, I don't consider needing to hire a surveyor. Is this wrong of me? Are my GIS interns facing jail terms by measuring and mapping for me? Without a license?

I am in a unique position because I understand the relative importance and need for accuracy and precision, but given how usable GIS software is becoming, how prolific GPS devices are, the improvements in data management tools and people's deeper understanding of programming, coding and analytics, why should we consider that we need to hold tight onto every single area of the spatial spectrum? I'm excited that geospatial is becoming less of a secluded science and more of a common operating parlance for developers, what is being done in the spatial world by non surveyors and geographers is mind blowing, and sometimes intimidating, but surely not worthy of threats and lawsuits?

Pick the right tool to suit the job. I think that sums up the importance and need of professional surveyors, they are critical to many fields, but they don't hold the keys to the mapping kingdom anymore, and I'm ok with that.
  Monday, August 01, 2011 at 8:21:57 PM
Posts: 14
Location: Orlando, FL USA

Joined: 10/17/2008
Reply  Re: Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying? Flag »  Reply »
Thanks for your comment, Spjika.  You may be pleased to hear that FSMS has agreed to participate in a panel discussion with GISPs and other professional mappers at the Central Florida GIS Workshop, to be held in Daytona Beach next month.  There has been some discussion of Jell-O wrestling to settle the matter.  :-)
  Tuesday, August 02, 2011 at 2:46:24 PM
Posts: 2

Joined: 8/5/2011
Reply  Re: Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying? Flag »  Reply »
All professions are experiencing the encroachment of technologies so the matter comes down to expected use and liability. It is the norm for the average person to see GIS maps and presume they are "absolutely" accurate. Here then is the crux. Are you prepared to assume financial liability for your product? If not, the matter is settled. If so, how? How much? To whom are you accountable?

You should read Google Maps License disclaimer #6 and realize that as long as the maps are never "relied upon", you can map anything you want. Put the public "at risk" with your data / map and again you have your answer.

Technology gives us cars but a license is required to drive with the expectation of responsibility for one's actions. Technologically advances in the automotive industry does not grant exemptions. Drive on your own property, no problem. Enter the public right-of-way (which requires the work of a licensed surveyor to determine the location, not just pretty pictures) and you better have all of your paperwork in order.

Become licensed and all of this is a non-issue.
  Friday, August 05, 2011 at 12:30:28 PM
Posts: 2

Joined: 8/5/2011
Reply  Re: Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying? Flag »  Reply »
I re-read the article and wanted to make another point. The reference to law enforcement's use of survey equipment has the potential of coming at a price one day. If the measurements they take are the determining factor in a court proceeding. A sharp lawyer will use their snubbing of Statues as a source for the shadow of doubt - just like they do with the training to use, and calibration of radar detectors. If it were to ever come down to the testimony of a licensed surveyor and a patrol officer, I would venture to guess that law enforcement would realize that they need to re-evaluate their procedures when their practice cost them their case. At least that's my theory.
  Friday, August 05, 2011 at 4:19:05 PM
Posts: 14
Location: Orlando, FL USA

Joined: 10/17/2008
Reply  Re: Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying? Flag »  Reply »

I made exactly that point to the head of the Florida Highway Patrol, which has trained hundreds of law enforcement officers in the techniques, and to the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, whose organization include the Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers.  (Yes, they are under Department of Agriculture and not the Department of Professional & Business Regulation at the Board's request.)  They weren't interested.  FSMS circulated a memo earlier this year reporting the concern of a local chapter about the practice and a warning by the Legislative Committee chair that to go after law enforcement for unlicensed practice was inviting a fight they didn't want.  The use of surveying and photogrammetric techniques by law enforcement officers is the main motive behind concerns expressed in the article.  A lawyer will eventual figure this out, and then what happens?

BTW, the other example of non-surveyors using these tools and techniques that I presented to the Board was medical surgeons, who use photogrammetry and triangulation to direct operating robots.
  Friday, August 05, 2011 at 6:47:04 PM
Posts: 51
Location: Frederick, USA

Joined: 7/8/2008
Reply  Re: Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying? Flag »  Reply »
Hi gentlemen,

I'm working on the next print edition of the magazine and wondering if I may include any of this discussion in our letters to the editors.  Please email me if I have your permission.

  Monday, August 08, 2011 at 9:22:46 AM

Professional Surveyor Boards » In the News » Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying?

» Reply to Can Mapping Exist Separately from Surveying? Topic

In order to post a new message, you must first be logged into an account.

Website design and hosting provided by 270net Technologies in Frederick, Maryland.