FieldNotes: State Society Show Recaps

NJSPLS Conference 

By Bill Beardslee

SurvCon 2013 was the 34th Annual Conference and Exhibition of the New Jersey Society of Professional Land Surveyors. Approximately 700 attendees, vendors, and guests experienced 23 continuing education workshops and several social events at Bally’s Park Place Hotel in Atlantic City.

The workshops covered a variety of topics, including business management, communications, GIS, GPS, legal issues, and standards given by many nationally known speakers including Walt Robillard, Dave Doyle of NGS, Bill Beardslee, Bill Henning of NGS, and Jeff Lucas. 

The major social event was the SurvCon Welcome Gala, where camaraderie and good food mixed well for a fun evening. The highlight of the evening was a presentation of a picture to retiring NGS chief geodetic surveyor Dave Doyle with the signatures of all present at the Gala. The presentation was made by Lew Conley, past president of NJSPLS and past NSPS area 2 director. Dave’s pleasant demeanor and technical skills will be sorely missed by NGS; fortunately, he will still be leading us as geodesy editor to Professional Surveyor magazine.

New Jersey Institute of Technology held a reception for NJIT alumni and those interested in the four-year surveying program at the university. Hosted by survey program coordinator Dr. Laramie Potts and Dr. John Miima, the attendees included the creator and former head of the survey program at NJIT, Dr. Joshua Greenfeld.

The annual Past Presidents and Fellows breakfast focused heavily on the impact on New Jersey by the proposed FEMA remapping and flood elevation changes and the data created from the devastation inflicted on the state by hurricane Sandy.


NC GIS Conference

By Kristian Forslin, GISP

The 2013 North Carolina Geographic Information Systems (NC GIS) Conference turned out to be a record-breaking event, leaving many attendees much better off … professionally speaking. This biennial conference always brings together a large cohort of GIS professionals from planning, surveying, environmental, local government, and engineering backgrounds to engage each other in a three-day event filled with networking opportunities, presentations, live demonstrations, and workshops. The 2013 NC GIS Conference was the largest one yet with over 1,000 GIS professionals in attendance.

The conference was held on February 6-8 in Raleigh, NC and is co-hosted by the NC Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCCGIA) and the Carolina Chapter of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (CURISA). Traditionally, the conference starts with CURISA-sponsored workshops, and this year four different topics were offered. These workshops included a wide range of professional development opportunities with broader topics such as “Project Management Principles for GIS” and “Asset Management: Planning, Strategy and Implementation” to more technical workshops like “Business Intelligence and Data Integration for the GIS Professional” and “Overview of Open Source Software.” These workshops were instructed by well-regarded members of the industry and were highly attended.

The conference itself got off to a start on the next day with a plenary session and the presentation of the 2013 G. Herbert Stout Local Government Awards. This award was created to honor exemplary use of GIS by a local government but has recently been expanded to recognize regional authorities as well. Greenville Utilities won the regional category, The Town of Cary, NC won the city or town government category, and there was a tie between Craven County, NC and Moore County, NC for the county government category.

The conference attracted 50 vendors who filled booths and represented lidar companies, GIS consultants, non-profit/trade associations, and hardware vendors. The exhibit hall was packed most of the time, but even during the sessions there was a steady crowd discussing projects with vendors. Daryl Huffman of Duncan Parnell stated that, “The NC GIS conference is one we really look forward to more than any that we attend, and we attend a large number of shows. I think there are two main reasons why: one is the sheer magnitude of people at the local and state level whom they bring to the show and the other is the level of professionalism that both those running the show and those attending have for their profession.”

With awards handed out and the exhibit hall crowded, the conference moved into high gear with four sessions, each having their own high-profile introductory speaker. NC GIS was fortunate to have industry veterans from Esri, National Geographic Society, and the US Department of the Interior provide wisdom leading into the rest of the conference. These presentations lead into a series of presentations within the respective topic area over the course of the next day and a half. 

The shear breadth of GIS knowledge and experience that followed was impressive, even if one person could not physically sit through every discussion. Simply reviewing the program illustrates how pervasive GIS has become and how many solutions it brings to so many problems. These concurrent sessions continued through Friday with a break for lunch and the keynote address. This year Michael Dobson of TeleMapics provided a thought-provoking discussion on “Unintended Consequences – The Roles of Google and Crowdsourcing GIS.” Dobson’s presentation had many people pouring over the ubiquitous nature of Google and what it means for GIS professionals and the general public as well as the data both of these groups provide and consume.

Some of the more well-travelled conference goers have said that the NC GIS conference represents one of the top five largest they have been to. This would be difficult to measure, but with over 1,000 professionals and students in attendance it is not hard to believe. 


NYSAPLS 54th Conference

By Bill Beardslee

The Saratoga Hilton in Saratoga Springs, New York was the meeting site for 700 surveyors, vendors, visitors, and guests at the New York State Association of Professional Land Surveyors’ 54th Annual Conference and Exhibition. Director of operations Amber Anderson, with the support of the NYSAPLS Conference Committee, chaired by Ken Stigner, orchestrated the three-day event that saw 34 continuing education courses given by 24 speakers from across the nation. An interesting addition to the conference was several one-hour CEU classes on technical items given by the exhibitors in the exhibition hall at random times throughout the day. 

A welcome reception with the exhibitors was held Wednesday evening. This annual event provides a lengthy opportunity for the attendees to mingle with the exhibitors and discuss their wares without interference from CEU events. It provides a wonderful time for networking and enjoying the surveyors from the other ends of the state whom most attendees see only once a year.

Guests at the annual Gala Banquet enjoyed hearing from NYSAPLS president Steve Boddecker and NSPS president Robert Dahn. The live auction at the banquet generated $9,250 for the Shaw Scholarship Fund. But the highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Charles Hartnett. Licensed since 1959, Hartnett has made many contributions to the surveying profession over his distinguished career, including being the founder of one of the NYSAPLS chapters. With him to receive the honor was his wife of 60 years, Lois. 

The 55th NYSAPLS Conference will be held in January, 2014 in Rochester.

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