The Future of the Surveying Profession

Thanks to Terry Bennett at Autodesk for the contribution. Here are some excerpts:

Surveying is “the application of special knowledge of the principles of mathematics, the related physical and applied sciences and the relevant requirements of law for adequate evidence to the act of measuring and locating lines, angles, elevations, natural and man-made features.” among other things. An example of our new role as curators of the built environment information centers on man-made features, big data, analytics, security, and the like, under the guise of critical infrastructure protection. It involves bringing all our data capture knowledge and tools (total stations, laser scanners, drones, underwater UAVs/sonar etc) in a “Scan to BIM” approach for a very real modern need – digitalization of infrastructure.

Today anyone with a cellphone has a camera and GPS. If you have a drone, you have a personalized aerial mapping and photogrammetry system that can not only capture ortho imagery but calculate volumes. It is the surveyors who must step up and lead as experts in accurate, precise, and certified digital twins of the physical world. The ability to fly a dam or a hundred-acre project site or scan miles of highways off the back of a truck, all to create 3D models within hours to a few days, accurate to 5-10mm, means surveying is being re-imagined. The question arises – will surveyors take a leadership role in the development of new technologies and processes or will we react to technological advances that continue to come from outside the surveying profession?

Whether field crew, party chief, managers, or survey firm owners, we must make the transition yet again to remain both relevant to the new digital age but more so continue as guardians of “determining areas and volumes, for the monumenting of property boundaries and for the platting and layout of lands and subdivisions of land, including the topography, alignment, and grades of streets and for the preparation and perpetuation of maps.” So, when you hear things like big data, IoT, Critical Infrastructure Protection, or smart cities, pay attention; that is opportunity calling.

The full article is an important read.



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1 Response to The Future of the Surveying Profession

  1. Daniel Paulsen says:

    Well stated Terry. Much of this seems to be at the heart of the debate between the Young Surveyors Network and the traditionalists at NSPS.
    Also a correction; UAS or manned aerial photography does not “capture ortho imagery”. Digital orthophotos are a processed image made from the perspective image taken from any camera. This process includes 3D orientation of the image and resampling to a terrain surface – orthorectification.

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