The American Congress on Surveying & Mapping (ACSM) held their 2011 Annual Conference in conjunction with Esri's Survey Summit in San Diego, Calif. from July 7-13. While the event was well received, the organization determined at the culmination to accept the recommendations of the ACSM Realignment Committee to disband the ACSM Congress of Member Organizations and begin the process of dissolving ACSM.
The committee’s report provided a mission statement and outlined issues to be decided in the near future, such as the need for due diligence review and a new name of the “new” or “realigned” organization. The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) Board moved, through the NSPS delegates to the ACSM Congress, to disband the ACSM Congress and begin the dissolution of ACSM. In conjunction with this process, ACSM is to turn over all operation, control, assets and liabilities to NSPS. This motion carried by simple majority.
Before adjourning, the ACSM Congress issued a Resolution of Cooperation expressing the following on behalf of NSPS, American Association of Geodetic Surveying (AAGS), and Geographic and Land Information Society (GLIS): "The herein assembled delegates, on behalf of their respective member organizations of ACSM, hereby commit to promote a collective effort toward the implementation of the stated mission of creating a unified individual member organization." This resolution reflects the commitment by NSPS, AAGS, and GLIS to create a unified, individual organization. It is expected that such an organization may be in place by the end of 2011. As a first step, NSPS Board created Special Interest Boards for Geodesy and GIS, respectively, within the NSPS structure.
Highlights from the Survey Summit
The stated purpose of the 2011 Survey Summit, to discuss “all things survey,” was no different as that of its inaugural gathering in 2003 when land surveying took the spotlight at the Esri User Conference (Donny Sosa, ACSM Bulletin #251, June 2011, p. 8). Yet, the 2011 event was different in that it was the first time that a national surveying and mapping organization, ACSM, held its annual conference in conjunction with the Survey Summit. Furthermore, the Survey Summit has evolved from an event where surveyors met with other professionals to discuss ways to coexist, to an event showcasing emerging geospatial methods and technologies.
The changes in the 2011 Survey Summit’s makeup were prominent at the technical level, in the outstanding quality of a number of technical sessions and workshops. The topics discussed in these sessions as well as in the plenary were relevant and of current interest to surveyors and others attending the Summit.
As an extension of the Survey Summit, the Esri User Conference Survey Track was exceedingly informative, with at least one session—on building parcel fabrics from survey data using a Parcel Editor—providing a glimpse into the future, at the changing nature of surveying.
Another forward looking, albeit little advertised, technical seminar delivered a first-ever, concise definition of the Surveying Body of Knowledge. This research was conducted by an ACSM Subcommittee comprised of members of GLIS, NSPS, and the industry. Joshua Greenfeld, who acted as the leader of the research group, Wendy Lathrop, past NSPS president, and Joseph Paiva, GPS industry consultant, presented the group’s work at the Survey Summit. Following a period of public comment and technical editing, the Surveying Body of Knowledge is expected to be published before the end of this year. Among the publishing options considered are a journal version—possibly a special content issue of the Surveying and Land Information Science Journal—and a book. Sponsors for financing the latter are being sought. An abridged version of the Surveying Body of Knowledge presented at the Survey Summit can be found in the ACSM Bulletin no. 251 (June 2011), on pp. 23-30.
By all accounts, however, the Survey Summit plenary with its back-to-back talks by LightSquared’s Jeff Carlisle and Trimble’s Peter Large on the issue de jour, the encroachment (or lack thereof) on the band used by precision GPS, was an unqualified success. Juliana Blackwell, Director of the National Geodetic Survey, and Rand Knight of Critigen, keynoted the event. Quotes from their presentations as well as others are given below.
Every new venture is bound to have some teething problems, and this year’s joint Esri – ACSM event was no different. Attendance was not as good as hoped for; the current unofficial count stands at 550. The estimated attendance at the Esri User Conference was 15,000. It is believed that among the UC attendees were a good number of surveyors looking to learn about GIS as a tool for use in their surveying businesses. The priority number one for the future is therefore to provide content at the Survey Summit which would encourage participation by a broad spectrum of surveying practitioners.
From the organizational point of view there were issues beyond our control, such as with the business meetings agenda—too many meetings overlapping—and scheduling of business meetings and the technical program in different locations. Other matters of logistical nature were identified for improvement should our organization choose to meet in conjunction with the Survey Summit in 2012.
This notwithstanding, the 2012 Survey Summit and ACSM Annual Meeting were memorable, and some parts of the event extremely educational. The location, in beautiful downtown San Diego, proved conducive to all manner of socializing, including some very spirited dancing into the night. This certainly was in line of “having a little fun” while attending to the main purpose of holding the ACSM Annual Conference at the Survey Summit―namely, to gain exposure to emerging surveying technology and reaffirm the surveyors’ vital role in GIScience and technology. We look forward to 2012―and a similar mixture of enlightenment and pleasure.
Excerpts and quotes from presentations:
“We are here to learn, network, and have some fun. Over 120 paper abstracts were submitted, filling four tracks―business, education, executive, and training. However, it isn’t always about quantity; quality matters. The more strongly we can represent our profession, the better.” [Donny Sosa, Esri staff, Survey Summit organizer]
“We [the surveying community] need to be a leader, a credible source of technology integration. People don’t go for the technology because it works as they expected it to. There must be community buy-in for new technology.” “…. It’s not enough to have separate layers of data; we need to put everything in a GIS system. It’s technology convergence at its best. Esri is committed to bringing survey grade into GIS. Building ‘situational awareness’ into the geodatabases is important for business; this business is increasingly being conducted in a partner ecosystem. Survey grade data are the foundation of this virtual reference system, and surveyors need to accept the responsibility for getting quality data into the system.” [Rand Knight, Critigen, keynote speaker]
“ A challenge can be positive or negative, it can present an opportunity or hindrances. Our current challenging times provide an opportunity to think differently. If we want to do something more, then something needs to change. I would like NGS to be an adaptive organization…to be responsive, ready for changes, and so serve you better.” [Juliana Blackwell, Director NGS, keynote speaker]
“We accepted the challenge of developing a Body of Knowledge for Surveying so as to enhance the opportunity for GIS mapping programs to be accredited by ABET under ACSM. Being associated with an ABET-accredited associate degree in GIS would be good for expanding our membership reach.” [Joshua Greenfeld, NJIT, GLIS director, leader of BoK research group]