Archive for November, 2012

During the course of this year, it has been interesting to hear people debating the need to keep the geospatial professions relevant and to heighten their perceived value to a range of key players in the private and government sectors.

It is increasingly clear that surveyors’ specialised and hard-earned measurement skills are under threat as surveying  tools become simultaneously easier to use and increasingly accurate. At the recent Institute of Mine Surveyors of South Africa Conference, mine surveyors were advised to counter this trend towards “push-button” technology by carving out a special role for themselves as geodata managers and to identify how they can use their specialised surveying skills to contribute to their organisations’ productivity, safety and efficiency. Land surveyors have also been cautioned against allowing themselves to be marginalised. Karl van Rensburg has encouraged land surveyors to counter this trend by providing a more complete service to their clients and by getting more involved in pre- and post-survey activities (see September, October and Nov/Dec issues of PositionIT).

Technology waits for no man, and surveyors need to look towards this future, identify the business opportunities therein, and grasp them with both hands. Not to be left out in the cold, people working in the GIS field also need to be looking to the future and the implications of technological advances in their sphere of specialisation. They too need to identify ways to offer more value to their organisations and/or clients. As geospatial software and equipment becomes increasingly user-friendly, people who are able to analyse geospatial data and use it for the benefit of their organisations and/or clients, are the ones who will have the most relevance in the workplace of the future.

GIS practitioners need to assess their skills and ask themselves whether there is going to be a need for their skills in the future work place.  Are they simply going to be users of software and equipment or are they going to be the experts who know how to use geospatial data to build our economy and society? Clearly there is a lot at stake and participants in the geospatial sector, whether surveyors or GIS practitioners, need to be paying serious attention to their individual identity as professionals and the status of their profession as a whole.

Following this line of thinking, I would like to encourage people to actively participate in PLATO’s CPD programme. I realise that many people working in the geospatial sector are rattled by the new programme and its requirements. However, a  closer look at the rules will reveal that the conditions are not too onerous. True the need to comply with the CPD programme has come at a time when many people are feeling overcommitted and financially constrained, however, with some strategic planning one should be able to meet the requirements of the programme, while improving one’s skills, keeping up-to-date with new technologies, networking with colleagues and identifying new business or job opportunities.

People who are not registered with PLATO should not let this hold them back from participating in the various CPD-approved activities. After all participation in industry platforms and associations is an investment in yourself.



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