The Time is Now to Change Surveying Worldwide, Forever and for the better.
What am I referring to when i speak of things which need to change?
Yesterday, I was on the phone talking with a member of the community who has been a member since 2008. They asked me quite simply "Why do you give a shit?"
In my humble opinion, land surveying as a profession is currently running on fumes, in a desert with very little hope in sight - that is, if we do not start to act. Generational differences, aging work force, lack of shared knowledge and unwilling mentors all contribute to the current situation. But do you care? That is the question. Many appear to have accepted this situation as inevitable, shifting their gaze toward retirement - especially those who have been in the field for years. Many appear to have become settled if not comfortable with a negative approach to inner-crew dynamics, further contributing to the decline in surveying education and collective knowledge of the second oldest profession known to mankind. Alone we might feel helpless, but together we can move mountains.
Kids are not the only people we should be getting into surveying - Adults who have stopped learning are also starting to need a real boost.
The Age Gap Contributes to the Knowledge Gap in Land Surveying
It is well known that far less surveyors entering the field than we do leaving it, especially in the United States, but similarly in many other parts of the world. Those new to the field have a difficult time, in many cases, finding engaging and patient mentors who are willing to pass the torch. At the same time, there are both generational and technological challenges faced by many who have been surveyors for years which make crew communication, at times awkward and difficult. In the field, there are many who wished there were more positive communication. More than a few surveyors have expressed that they actually communicate better with their coworkers online and have an easier time grasping concepts which have been written out and explained for them. This sort of situation does not only apply to land surveyors at work. That confusing energy translates and has evolved into a real lack of public perception and a general blindness to the emormous importance of a land surveyor to civilization and the valuable role they play. The public seem to have no clue of what a surveyor does and I would argue that many surveyors in the field accuse one another of the same thing. The public see you on the side of the road running facy equipment and keep you tucked in the back of their mind so as to be able to recognize you when you deliver news of your findings after they see you in a neighbor's yard. The public does not understand what they are paying you for or the importance of what you do because you keep it to yourself, carry evidence of your work with you everywhere you go and have very few others to discuss it with because only another land surveyor will truly understand. They truly seem to have no idea about how much more you most likely know about their environment than they do.
It is of critical importance that we systematically turn this around, together. As a former land surveyor myself, turned surveyor community curator, I see clearly the flaws in the system from the inside out. I see clearly that we much start from a root and work our way up this tree, together. I see clearly that historical advertising and marketing methods used for decades have driven surveyors apart and converted the public perception of a surveyor into an association with enormously complex equipment and software, but not the surveyor. I see clearly the anxiety that many surveyors stepping onto the field have to endure because it is well known that rites of passage dictate how a new surveyor will be treated on their first day. I see clearly that many who step onto that field simply arent cut out for all the aspects of land surveying that can't be learned in a classroom. In terms of sustainability, the looming threat of land surveying profession evaporation is directly driven by lack of shared professional experience available for those who might otherwise enjoy toying with the idea of possibly entering the field. But how do I suppose we change this?
The only way we can change any of this is by taking a systems approach to finding solutions, as a networked community. Together, we can change land surveying by modernizing it and crowd-sourcing valuable surveying information, photos, videos, experience and more both for ourselves and for the public to learn from. We can only do this by remaining so proud of what we do that we share our progress and our failures.
Marketing and Commerce Need to Involve Support and Must Evolve
For years I have tried to come up with ways to make the community more helpful to the members without having to crowd the site with stupid banner ads and popups, while making it evermore sustainable. Sure...i've thought about basic membership fees but any amount seems to be unfair considering our international reach. At the end of the day, Land Surveyors United is not just a community. It is also a collective experiment to see how many of you actually give a shit about the mark you leave in surveying. In order to do that, my approach since 2007 is to build you a place which isn't over run with dozens of banner ads and distractions... a place which now has commerce in the form of a vendor driven marketplace, keeping everything compartmentalized and fresh. It is up to the Vendors to make the most of their Marketplace presence and reach by adding attractive offers to community members. Those who run contests and host events and invite users to share experiences will do the best. By creating a way for members to select and control the interests they subscribe to, you are able to minimize the noise and receive notifications only from those hubs which interest you. I feel that by building the community this way, I am giving you choices which puts you in better control of what you get out of this community. In exchange, all I hope for is your knowledge and visual contributions to the future generations of land surveyor who will learn from you. Land Surveyors United is a library, a social network, an educational platform, a discussion forum, a theatre and much more. Every bit of that was built by me with not only you in mind, but more importantly the one you inspire down the road.
So.... Why do I care in 2019
Why do you think I put so much time and energy every year into International Surveyors Week and Survey Earth in a Day? It should be obvious that the main motivation behind this community has never been money. Most other surveying sites and magazines are set up just to make money and that leaves a lot of stuff out. All I have ever wanted to do is build a sustainable community which can exist by virtue of its usefulness and inclusiveness. I do it for you as my personal yet global anthropological experiment and my artistic expression. I make sure this community is well maintained, in a state of improvement. I make sure there are thousands of land surveying jobs available, internationally. I constantly build apps and try to make everything better and expand in all ways, always.
For me, it seems to be the simplest thing you might do in your day to simply snap a photo or video and upload it to your Local Chapter Hub. Perhaps that is asking too much. What do you think?
What are YOU Doing to Make Land Surveying Better?
I am curious about what you think about some of the following questions.
Is it asking too much from you, the community member, to raise your level rod and celebrate YOUR career by sharing photos and stories one time per year?
Am I off base by believing that any of this is worth it to you?
In regards to Survey Earth in a Day: Is committing 30 minutes on the longest day of the year to submit a point to the community and representing land surveyors in your area of the world while simultaneously demonstrating to the public how important a surveyor is to society a lofty ask?
Is it worth it to you to participate when you can get your company some free publicity just by telling your local news station about it?
This community has the power to make the most accurate map of the world ever created. Our precision could provide insight into shifts in the surface of the earth unnoticable by satilites alone- especially when you set up on the same point of a previous year. This will be our 8th time remeasuring the surface of the earth in a single day. I want you all to have a tool to play with which encourages geomatics students to explore and become engaged. During this time of "climate crisis" and "flat earth movements" isn't it time to set the record straight on a lot of things?
If Land Surveyors of the world cannot do this, who can?
I started this post with the intention on writing a newsletter but I guess I had other things on my mind. Instead, I'll just embed the latest issue here for you to read. Download community-newsletter.pdf