Adaptation Through Diversification

In this column last month, you read the news from TJ Frazier about the change in our organization: TJ transitions to a new role as surveying editor as I move into the editor position. For those who missed this, perhaps an introduction is called for. Some of you may remember me from The Business Angle column that I wrote from 2005 to 2008; others may recognize me as the Pangaea editor, an e-newsletter that I will continue to produce (as TJ continues with Field Notes). For those who aren’t familiar with my work, here’s a little background. For nearly 15 years I have been involved with the geospatial and surveying professions. This includes working as an instrument operator, a manager for a land surveying firm, a land-use project manager and end-user of land surveying services, and of course, as a writer and editor on geospatial subjects.

I talked to my former employer, a small home builder, last week. He is building homes again and is optimistic about the future. Indeed many analysts believe that this is the year when residential housing comes back. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most real estate forecasters don’t anticipate a return to the heady days of the earlier 2000s. So, our shared vision for Professional Surveyor Magazine is “adaptation through diversification.” For surveyors to survive and thrive, we must adapt to the changed economic landscape by diversifying into new markets and harnessing new technologies. I help out with the local surveying firm in my area where I’ve seen firsthand how the housing implosion has left them “hurtin’ for certain” and how energy, in the form of oilfield work and wind power, has made all the difference in their survival. 

Energy is a big topic in the news, and we think it holds great prospects for geospatial professionals. This issue’s feature story, “Energy Work in Canada,” exemplifies how surveying for energy is replacing surveying for construction. We intend to watch this sector with a keen eye and to report our findings regularly. Everywhere you look, there is talk of new oil- and gas-fields (Bakken oil field and the Marcellus shale to name a few) and pipelines aplenty. Don’t count sustainable energy out either. It is true that federal subsidies will expire this year; however, drumbeats for renewing these subsidies are already being heard. Additionally, many states are requiring utilities to obtain a significant portion of their energy from sustainable resources such as wind and solar. This could help keep sustainable energy alive until advances in efficiency can make them more competitive. 

You are receiving our spring Aerial Mapping supplement with this issue, in which we have diversified our coverage to go beyond photogrammetry to include lidar and imaging. The good news is that once-exotic technologies such as lidar and 3D scanning are becoming mainstream, affordable, and easier to use. For example, prices for 3D scanning gear are coming into the range of a typical GPS system, while AutoCAD 2012, ArcGIS 10.1, and a host of familiar software programs are quite capable of handling the resultant 3D point clouds.
We also welcome a new member to our editorial advisory board, Gavin Schrock, PLS. Gavin is well known in the profession, has a great deal of experience in land surveying, and is particularly well versed in RTK networks. He has written extensively on surveying issues since 2004, and we are excited about the possibilities this partnership brings.

~Jeff

About the Author

  • Jeff Salmon, Editor
    Jeff Salmon, Editor
    Jeff Salmon is the new editor for Professional Surveyor Magazine. For nearly 15 years he has been involved with the geospatial and surveying industries. He has worked as an instrument operator, a manager for a surveying firm, a land-use project manager and end-user of land surveying services, and a writer and editor on geospatial subjects. He started in 2005 as the Business Angle columnist, then served as the web editor and then editor for our popular Pangaea newsletter, which he still produces.

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