The Future Looks Bright for the Surveying Industry

As we embark upon a new year, 2004 signals a time that has never been better for the surveyor. Granted, surveyors are facing greater competition within their own field for traditional jobs, as well as from other areas such as GIS service companies performing GIS data collection, or engineering and other professions carrying out surveying functions as well as providing 3D laser scanning services. So, you may ask, why the optimism?

First, the surveying community is not facing the outsourcing of jobs that are going overseas and never coming back. As in the IT industry, your kindred professions of GIS, Photogrammetry, and Remote Sensing are losing jobs in great numbers to offshore outsourcing shops. But, they can't ship your jobs offshore-there will always be the need for skilled, highly-trained professionals in the field and, no one is more qualified for that than the surveyor.

GIS data collection, 3D laser surveying, and breaking into new markets and applications provides new opportunities that will bring higher margins and profitability than the traditional surveying jobs that everyone is going after. However, there is opportunity here, too. By implementing the newest advances in traditional tools and equipment and adopting new business practices you will become more competitive in the traditional surveying jobs.
Technologies are making traditional surveying jobs more efficient, effective, and safer-bottom line-you need to embrace the new technology and the new opportunities.

Strengthening the Profession
The surveying profession has gone through periodic technological advances that have furthered the profession in productivity, capabilities, and business opportunities. These include the optical theodolite which revolutionized the working conditions for surveyors, to the electronic infrared range measuring technology combined with total stations, to the gains from GPS signals and software that has increased productivity in the surveying field.

As we go forward, the trend for the surveying profession is toward massive and "high-definition" (detailed) data-collection increasingly replacing the single-point or point-to-point measurements that were the foundation of surveying for the past thousand years.

Leica Geosystems CEO Hans Hess has put a name to this trend, "This decade offers new opportunities with laser scanning technologies named High-Definition Surveying. We have chosen this new terminology partly in recognition of the increasing significance of this technology to surveying, engineering, and other measurement professionals. High-Definition Surveying represents another major advance for professionals by providing increased productivity for various applications … offers clients significant added value in accuracy, detail, and completeness."

The need for better ways to model existing conditions of built assets and civil infrastructure drives the 3D terrestrial laser scanning market which is expected to top $86 million in 2003, 22% growth over 2002 according to a report by Tom Greaves and Bruce Jenkins of Spar Point Research LLC, Danvers, Massachusetts. Driven by the urgent need by owners, operators, engineers, and surveyors for faster, safer, more accurate, and efficient ways to model existing conditions of built assets and civil infrastructure than traditional manual methods, the market will reach $293.7 million in 2008, a five-year compound annual growth of 28%.

Spar Point's forthcoming report titled Modeling Existing Conditions: A Report on Opportunities, Challenges and Best Practices for Owners, Operators, Engineer/Constructors and Surveyors of Built Assets and Civil Infrastructure is intended to provide an in-depth analysis of both the demand and supply sides of the market, the report identifies and analyzes the potential benefits to practitioners of upgrading their capability to model existing conditions. The report gauges whether and how new technologies and methods based on 3D terrestrial laser scanning are helping practitioners achieve the business objectives of higher-confidence, more accurate bids; faster, better, cheaper, lower-risk execution of work; better quality control of outsourced design and engineering; better quality control of fabrication; faster, better-informed approvals by management, clients, the public, and other stakeholders; better documentation of existing and interim conditions to minimize litigation risks, and more. For information about the report you can contact Bruce Jenkins at: 978-774-1102 ext.1 or email:

Mission and Focus
Professional Surveyor Magazine's mission is not to reactively cover the inexorable migration of the surveying industry into the 21st century. We intend to play a proactive role-to champion the benefits of the new technologies and opportunities for the surveying industry by providing the communication and education resource committed to the success of the surveying industry. This requires Professional Surveyor Magazine to focus its efforts on two fronts: the first is to communicate the benefits of the new technology and business practices to the surveying community to help you become more efficient, effective, and competitive; The second front is to promote the surveying industry to the markets and applications from where your future and existing business will come.

GITC America, the parent company of Professional Surveyor Magazine, acquired GIS Monitor about a year-and-a-half ago and finalized the acquisition of Earth Observation Magazine in February 2003. In conjunction with our sister publication GIM International—GITC has become the sole multi-channel, multi-discipline information source in the geospatial, mapping, and surveying fields-reaching more than 120,000 professionals in geomatics, mapping, surveying, GIS, remote sensing, GPS, and positioning.

By investing hundreds of thousands of dollars, GITC is able to develop the highest quality, and most current circulation list in the surveying field. GITC is committed to surveying and is also intrinsically dedicated to the worldwide geomatics field. We will increase exposure of this industry by providing bonus distribution to specialize trade shows and conferences such as construction, engineering, oil, gas, mining, forestry-again areas where the future growth of the surveying industry will come.

We are committed to providing the surveyor a publication which is dedicated to improving your business. Professional Surveyor Magazine is not a consumer publication that is devoted to a readership's frivolous entertainment and amusement-we are a professional journal whose mission is to educate a community of readers on ways to improve their business, make their jobs more efficient and effective, and expose them to new opportunities that will provide economic success.

You will notice a vibrant, fresher approach to the editorial coverage in the coming months. We also intend to start a software and product review section which will be written by actual users of the products, such as the "beta testers." They will be able to provide the reader with the most comprehensive, complete perspective on a product because they are regular users and will be the most intimately familiar with it.

Professional Surveyor Magazine's columns will be written by professionals who are intimately familiar with the issues surveyors face today. Jim White has taken the reins as our new Hands On Software Reviewer. Jim received a BS degree from State University of New York at Albany in Geologic Sciences with a minor in Geography/Cartography in 1984. He has been a licensed surveyor since 1993 and owns Azimuth Surveying, a private practice in Schenectady, New York which provides surveying and software development services. Please see Jim's inaugural column, a review of ptbase by CBI Systems Ltd. on page 38.

We also welcome Clifford Mugnier as a new Contributing Writer. His column titled "Observations on Positions" will cover such subjects as Forensic Photogrammetry and the latest research in Absolute Gravity Instruments. Cliff teaches Surveying, Geodesy, and Photogrammetry at Louisiana State University. He is also a Board Certified Photogrammetrist and Mapping Scientist (GIS/LIS). Be sure to catch his first column on page 32.

Surveyors' Advocate
There is considerable competition in the geomatics publishing/media arena, with new additions virtually every day-and you, the reader and advertiser are the ultimate beneficiaries. The increased competition means we must work harder, invest more, strive farther to earn your business and respect. Some of the new entrants to the geomatics publishing field will make sweeping promises and assertions. However, it is important to keep in mind the tremendous investment, expertise, and industry dedication it takes to develop and maintain quality readership; produce top quality publications; create, maintain, and promote high-traffic websites; develop the latest means of electronic communication such as e-newsletters, e-mail blasts; and cross-market into other, related disciplines.

Ultimately, Professional Surveyor Magazine's role is advocate for the surveying industry-our goal, simply put is to help the surveying industry to succeed. With all the resources and expertise at our disposal, we'll be working to educate the surveying community on the advantages of technology and best business practices to become more successful; and, promoting surveying to the numerous markets and applications which will generate the surveying industry's revenue. The surveying industry's success will become our success!
All of us at GITC America wish you a happy and healthy New Year-and hope that Professional Surveyor Magazine can help to make it a prosperous and profitable one as well.

Until next time … Cheers!

» Back to our January 2004 Issue

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