Evolution of the Surveying Industry

The surveying industry is in a constant state of evolution. We are witnessing, possibly, the most dramatic changes this industry has ever seen. This evolution, which is being triggered by the new technologies and business opportunities, are real life illustrations of how economic Darwinism is being playing out before our very eyes. This issue of Professional Surveyor Magazine provides a sweeping view of the evolution this industry is undergoing. The element of exploration still exists within the surveying field as Jim Moore states in his article, "Surveying Goes Underground." The novel, yet, esoteric application of mapping caves illustrates the evolution of the process of surveying-moving beyond the labor-intensive, traditional processes to take advantage of new technology to improve accuracy, efficiency, and safety.

The need for certified, surveyed positions is highlighted in a fascinating article on page 42, by Cliff Mugnier, on how surveying and close range photogrammetry helped to solve a forensic case. The accuracy of the critical locations, certified by a licensed surveyor and therefore appropriate for forensic use, combined with photogrammetry to provide the critical elements which, when put together like a puzzle, served to solve a forensic case which could have meant prison or freedom for the defendant.

In the spirit of the intrepid explorer-surveyors, read the exploits of the present day explorer-surveyors in Eric Stahlke's article, "Return to the River, Part 2… Going Nowhere." The Tanana Chiefs Conference of Fairbanks, Alaska, faces another summer on the rivers of Alaska. This article provides an exciting and entertaining first-hand perspective of the trials and tribulations of the modern surveyor operating in extreme and remote locations, and we learn that real-life adventure is not dead.

In keeping with the evolution of Professional Surveyor Magazine, we would like to welcome a few new talented writers to our already distinguished line-up.

Joe Knetsch joins us, along with Mary Root and Greg Spies, as our new history writers. This knowledgeable group of writers will contribute on a rotating basis so that you will see a different writer each month. With this rotation, we hope to provide some different points of view on a variety of historical subjects-from around the country. Joe holds a Ph.D. in history from Florida State University and is employed as the historian for the Division of State Lands, Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Don't miss his inaugural column on the history of meandering on page 60.

Jon Purnell also joins us as our new book reviewer. Jon comes to us from Port Angeles, Washington. He is a professional land surveyor who teaches a two-year surveying-geomatics course for Peninsula College. His insightful first review on The Measure of All Things: The Seven Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World by Ken Alder on page 34 brings into focus the rich history and consequence of the surveying discipline.

These insights to the history and evolution of the profession help to keep the traditions alive and creates a pride of profession that is unequaled in other disciplines. However, a message I hear repeatedly from surveyors and industry experts alike is that because of the new technologies and opportunities that are impacting the industry-the surveyor of yesterday must evolve or become extinct. Now, don't get me wrong. I am simply the messenger. I take no joy in repeating these comments-they are popping up all over the industry from conversations in the halls at surveyor meetings to letters and editorials in state land surveyor association newsletters. But, I take solace, and glean optimism, from knowing that unprecedented opportunities lie ahead for this industry.
Until next time … cheers!

» Back to our February 2004 Issue

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