Guest Essay: Modifying Our Scope of Services

Eddie Glawe is a party chief and LSIT who recently sat for his principles and practices exam for licensure in Maryland. A multi-talented kind of guy (he has even dabbled in acting), Eddie is best known and respected as a diligent surveyor who doesn’t mince words in voicing his support for our profession to maintain the highest standards in precision, practices, and professionalism, especially in cadastral surveying. With more than two decades of multi-disciplined surveying experience, Eddie also sees some great opportunities to expand the scope of surveying services.

The future of the surveying profession, to me, seems somewhat controllable. It could be influenced by how we handle it. It will also take its own course, affected by factors beyond our control. We are known for our measurement ability, our judgment, and our “historical” record keeping and research.

Software and imaging will have some negative impact on our profession. Some property owners will think they can “do without” our professional services. These will likely be the same individuals who will be subsequently requesting help to clean up their mess. This will be time for us to step in and be the problem solvers.

There will never be a revelation in the future when the general public understands our profession. The question will remain: “What is it you do when you are standing behind that thing on the side of the road?” We can educate the public a little at a time in what our purpose is, but those educated will be the minority.

My angle on our future is to modify our scope of services to fit our potential market.

As a specific example, media stories in the recent past have indicated problems at several national cemeteries. (Do not take this as a criticism against our armed services.) A possibility I fore- see would be to integrate ground-penetrating radar with more commonly embraced survey techniques. A surveyor might not be able to provide clarity of who is where but at least could indicate that there is a cavity in the ground here, or an apparent urn there, etc.

The benefit to land surveying in cases such as this would be not to have to share billing with a specialty contractor, and the client (cemetery in this example) gets itself squared away. This idea of expanding basic land surveying services could be applied to any number of other types of surveys that surveyors are called upon to perform.

Another single-source possibility would be to get oneself qualified for wetlands delineation. Make the marks and map them at the same time. I have done a modest share of location of someone else’s wetlands flagging and have heard that the environmental engineer often earns a respectable share of the costs at a very low labor effort.

A third potential to expand services appears to be in utility mapping and location. I recently mapped and set baseline of construction for a small drainage improvement project. Because the project was construction rather than just repair, we simply could not contact “Miss Utility” to generate a ticket (their policy is to mark, without cost, any utilities for a repair project), although that is not always comprehensive enough for construction. We were forced to use a contractor who charged approximately $25,000 to mark mains and services for a site four blocks long.

Therefore, it appears worthwhile to get the utilities contract while the other survey-related work is also being done. One-stop shopping and one-stop billing might earn some extra cash that would otherwise be absorbed by others. The client would be served better, as well, because the potential scheduling issues are much less of a possibility; you are already at the project.

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