Land surveying has come a long way. Within the past 20 years, industry innovators and newcomers alike have transitioned quite a bit alongside rapidly growing technology. Global positioning systems, robotic technology and real-time networks have redefined the way surveyors harness the power of data. Still, one piece of tech surpasses on the techcrunch paradigm shift spectrum: mobile devices.
Down and Dirty: A Strong Foundation for Mobile
Survey work, required when land property is purchased, sold or divided, thrives on instant-access information. Unsurprisingly, land surveyors were the immediate professional contacts called after 2008’s Cedar Rapids floods. The Federal Emergency Management Agency—as well as the city—required floodplain property owners to certify elevations before applying for reconstruction permits.
Even today, surveyors are contacted for elevation information work during floodplain reconstruction. While a soggy subject, it depicts a firm foundation upon which mobile technology has both empowered and redefined the world of surveying.
Stephen Mally for The New York Times
Power in a Pocket
Pen-and-paper tools aren’t going anywhere—and surveying pros like Andy Beckerson of UK-based surveying and geospatial solution provider, Korec, consider them to be top preference tools for field data collection.
Still, the industry’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) business-culture shift is telling. Digital data collection has taken a few steps forward, creating a colossal rift between classic surveying tools and modernized service approaches. The proof is in the pocket, as several smartphone-anchored innovations have redefined not only data collection methods—but data, itself. Let’s take a look:
First, GNN solutions deserve examination. In 2016, the software-defined Trimble Catalyst GNSS receiver empowered Android owners with real-time positioning. Even better: Its accuracy ranged from meter-level increments to centimeters.
The Trimble Catalyst is an incredible tool in its own right, boasting the constant adaptability surveying success stories are built upon. Now, Trimble Catalyst supports GLONASS GNSS satellite constellation signals. The service’s positioning is more robust than ever, and it’s available via a few clicks in the Google Play store.
Geographic Information Systems
GIS, the go-to tool for information and software compilation, viewing, management and analysis, is another mobile-made tech boom. Its implementation is so impactful, suggests the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, that it’s become a staple in community surveying, route planning and transportation safety. Today, GIS is even utilized to determine cancer risks in relation to ground contamination.
The Luxury of Instant Access
While the above-mentioned technology innovations are certainly intuitive, their direct benefits often overshadow their latent, industry-wide benefits—which are far more impressive.
The modern surveyor a two-year degree to gain traction in the surveying world. Then, six years of work experience is required to gain licensure. While a prospective surveyor can garner their degree credentials in a number of fields—such as engineering or mathematics—the industry’s barriers to entry are a little tighter than they seem at first glance.
Combating the Labor Shortage
The surveying industry is maintaining a steady pace, but several developments suggest a shortage in new hires. The International Federation of Surveyors created the 2006 Young Surveyors Network to foster new job opportunities. Meanwhile, the National Society of Professional Surveyors created its own Young Surveyors Network recently.
As groups attempt to employer existing and soon-to-be young surveyors, however, problems still exist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics depiction of cartographers, surveyors and photogrammetrists isn’t stratified, in terms of position-to-age reports. Each position is grouped together, which makes data specific to surveyors, in particular, nonspecific. Still, the numbers do exist: Of approximately 65,000 working surveyors, only 9,000 are under age 34.
The profession may need more job opportunity marketing, as the industry’s opportunities are frequently underappreciated by new entrants. Fortunately, the rise of mobile tech and incoming Millennials is expected to give the industry a breath of fresh air. While the job’s awareness spread is a little deficient, the inherent grasp on mobile tech in younger age groups—in years to come—will reshape the industry as a whole.