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The Real Thing: Why Surveys Matter

Zachary Garrett – Shawnee Professional Services

Surveyors are licensed under state laws in all fifty states; surveying is subject to regulation because their work pertains to the protection of property rights. How do surveyors protect property rights? By encouraging confidence in the integrity of property boundaries and providing an orderly approach to solving property line disputes; both of these benefits come from the informed, reliable opinion provided by the surveyor based on education, training, and experience. This is the most vital aspect of the services that surveyors provide. Accurate measurements and readable plats are helpful, but surveyors provide a basis for confidence, conflict avoidance, and conflict resolution when it matters most.

While there is no substitute for the professional opinion supplied by the surveyor, some stakeholders in the process want to take shortcuts. These stakeholders perceive that they are saving money, especially on low-value properties where the cost of a survey represents a large percentage of the property’s value. These shortcuts take many different forms – a reliance on tax maps or consumer-grade GPS products like those found on smartphones and in hiking equipment – but the common thread that connects them all is the perception that one is saving money or time, discounting the true value a surveyor provides.

In recent news, one attempt to shortcut the vital survey process comes from a Mississippi startup called Vizaline, which provides products to bankers which they describe as “a polygon of a particular property of interest”. Their product is called “Vizaplat”, which comes dangerously close to the name of the plat that a surveyor provides illustrating his or her legally authorized, professional opinion of property boundaries. Additionally, they describe themselves as a “GEO-Spatial Consultant”, which tests the boundaries of legality by marketing geospatial expertise – that is, the science of locating features on the surface of the earth – to those who rely on that expertise to make decisions with real financial consequences. In the October 2018 issue of POB, land surveyor and attorney Jeffery Lucas delivers a thorough exploration of the legal issues involved with service that Vizaline provides, but the primary sticking point is that Vizaline appears to be making judgments as to the location of property boundaries and encroachments. Otherwise, savvy clients could just use county tax maps, which are a notoriously unreliable indicator of property lines.

Worse, some commentators promote these services as a revolutionary transformation for stakeholders. On Bloomberg, a business website, opinion columnist Stephen Carter, misunderstanding the value surveyors provide, exuberantly portrays such services as being in the same vein as Uber or Lyft, which connects car riders with drivers, undermining the influence of licensed taxi services. However, driving a car is different than developing an informed professional opinion on property boundaries. Almost every American seventeen-year-old has the basic skills needed to drive a car. Surveying is closer to law, medicine, or even teaching middle school: it requires a set of skills that can only be formed by specialized training and lengthy experience, and the consequences for failing to apply those skills can be significant. The commendable inclination to support free enterprise must take into consideration the need to protect life, public safety, and property rights. A survey, which, at its root, is a judgment regarding property boundaries, ought to be performed by those who have the expertise to do so, and a “geo-spatial consultant” cannot dodge that responsibility by simply choosing not to call their product a survey.

Sometimes, it is true that a particular property has such clear property boundaries or is of sufficiently low value that a land survey is not justified. However, it is important for the landowner and other stakeholders (banks, attorneys, real estate professionals) to be conscious of what they are giving up – the opportunity to have an informed, reliable, and reasoned professional opinion as to the location of property boundaries and other factors that many impact one’s right to use their property, like encroachments and access issues. In all other cases – when it really matters – cutting corners exposes stakeholders more expense and frustration in the future.

(Lucas, 2018)(Carter, 2018)

References

    Carter, S. L. (2018). Land Surveyors Are Paying the Price of Progress. Bloomberg. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-07-19/land-surveys-follow-path-drawn-by-uber-airbnb-and-tech-startups

Lucas, J. N. (2018). The Unauthorized Practice of Surveying. POB, 19–21.

Hunter Martin & Associates, Inc. is now part of Shawnee Professional Services!

Exciting news at our Paducah office:

Hunter Martin & Associates, Inc. is joining with Shawnee Professional Services to become one of the major providers of land surveying and civil engineering services in western Kentucky and southern Illinois.

Both companies have a history of dedication to personal service and professionalism, and we believe this partnership reinforces our respective strengths and allows us to focus on providing a consistently excellent product to our clients.

Hunter Martin & Associates was established in 1952; Mr. Martin was involved in forming several water and sewer districts in the region, assisting in the development of many subdivisions, and designing Kentucky’s first lagoon-type wastewater treatment process. His son, Rod Martin (PE/PLS), joined the firm in 1973. The company was the area’s oldest land surveying and civil engineering firm still in operation.

Our office will be in Shawnee’s building on Washington Street in downtown Paducah, but rest assured, the same familiar faces that have served you for years will still be with you at Shawnee Professional Services. We all look forward to this new development, and we invite you to join us!

Information Should Be Faster Than Your Truck: Three Ways That a Mobile Workforce Solution Benefits Utilities

Huge numbers of us live on our cell phones, from managing an account and shopping for food to diversions and excitement. There’s an application for almost everything, making it simple for us to finish assignments with the touch of a button. Be that as it may, few of us have these desires for innovation in our expert lives. We are used to the thought that it may take a few spreadsheets or a few hours to share information and work our businesses.

Now is the right time to change our expectations

Innovation suppliers are filling this hole with portable applications that address enormous inefficiencies that result from the inability to collect, share and analyze data in real time. Actually, this absence of ongoing, shareable information is the main driver of a number of the utility industry’s greatest difficulties, including inefficient communications with field crews, a lack of real time information for better decision-making and training new workers.

Mobile applications are solving these industry challenges, allowing utilities to quickly assess damage, report it in real time and understand exactly what materials are needed for restoration. Mobile applications also give repair crews a clear idea of the extent of the outage and allow them to rapidly determine where troubleshooting should begin. When paired with a mobile workforce management system, companies can reap these benefits.

Digital, even when disconnected

The fast flow of accurate, real-time information is critical for a mobile workforce to be effective. Although many utilities have moved beyond the traditional paper-based system for taking and sharing asset information, crews may still be reliant on paper for recording tasks and the conditions of assets out in the field. This method is prone to errors and makes data sharing difficult.

With a mobile workforce solution, crews can create a mobile record of asset conditions and field tasks that can be easily shared with other teams and systems, such as inspections that establish and maintain assets in proper working order, post-repair inspections – especially if the repairs are performed by contractors or outside labor – damage assessments after a storm or incurred by construction, and even new asset deployments or retrofits. Many municipalities, for example, are retrofitting existing streetlights to use modern LED lights which are brighter, use less energy and have a much longer lifespan. This entire transition can be digitally recorded and updated in real time.

With this digital record, the institutional knowledge of the network is retained and not reliant on those individuals who have a long history with the company. A worker, for example, who needs to fix a particular pole because of storm damage can reference past storm repair on the same pole to determine how long the task will likely take to complete. This helps the worker more efficiently plan his or her day and sets expectations for the remaining tasks. Without a digital record of this information, the worker would need to reference maps or find someone familiar with the area – both of which take time to do. The digital record automatically reduces the time it takes to maintain paper-based work management, keeping all records up to date in real time.

When crews can receive new work orders without having to return to the dispatch office, it further maximizes field time. Tasks can come into an “inbox” just like email, while coordinators in the control center can see the locations of field crews and assign new jobs to crews that are close to the location, all at the same time. For example, the back office can use the mobile workforce application to send a field worker additional tasks after it sees that the first one is completed. Rather than going out and simply completing one task, the worker can do several more, even as they arise. If an outage is detected, crews already in the area can be dispatched to address the problem and improve customer satisfaction with faster response times.

If a field crew is in a more remote location of a service territory and doesn’t have a connection to the office network, it doesn’t slow or hinder a field crew’s work. The mobile application has the ability to hold the data that is entered in the field and then upload it to the network when the worker is back online. No more paperwork. No manually entering data twice. Instead, the information is captured on one shareable mobile platform that can support processes across an entire utility.

Speed of data

When severe weather, outages or asset damage calls for fast decisions,your data has to be able to keep up. Because many of these situations require workers to go out into the field for inspection or repairs, a mobile workforce application should facilitate collaboration and faster exchanges of information by allowing workers to communicate in real time while in the field.

The process of data collection has traditionally been slow and time consuming, with crews operating in an information void due to spotty network connections or simply the labor-intensive process of communicating back to the home office. A mobile application helps teams communicate more quickly with one consolidated app. In the past, you may have relied on several – or even a dozen – different apps just to get tasks from the office to a device out in the field. With the right mobile technology, you need only one app to push the task out to the field crew, such as Orbitor Collector as previously mentioned, which they can then use inside the truck to document their work. A mobile application needs to ensure that crews receive the work orders, know where to go, do the work, and gather the necessary information while doing it.

This consolidation also alleviates training time because workers only need to learn one application. If mutual assistance crews are brought in, utilities don’t need to spend hours training them on how to record data: the application can simply be uploaded to their mobile device to be ready for use.

The field crews’ first and foremost priority is to get the system restored and the lights back on. A mobile application cannot get in the way of that. Crews need an application that is intuitive and easy to use – as easy as clicking on a map point and using a red cursor to write in a note. If the process is more complicated than paper, then paper will be the default and the information will not be entered into the mobile app and shared with other teams until the crew drives back to the office. If you want your data to move faster than your truck fleet, get a digital solution that is easy for workers to use and increase the likelihood that they will use it.

With the right field application, a utility is not only able to gather the information required by the various assigned tasks, but can determine exactly how long it took a field worker to complete the job. A utility also can record the worker’s exact location when a job was completed, increasing accuracy. In terms of increasing efficiencies, when field workers see their tasks for the day displayed on a map, they can better plan their route to carry them out. Further increasing efficiency, if a field worker can make observations that are beyond the day’s tasks – noting damage to assets or other items that might require attention – another field crew can be dispatched to follow up.

Real-time snapshot of assets

Fast, digital records can give you a clearer understanding of your network’s resilience, the condition of assets and help identify weak points. With a real-time understanding of your network, you can be confident that you are prioritizing operations and maintenance resources to tackle the most urgent problems.

In an emergency situation, this digital snapshot of asset conditions prevents gaps in information and productivity drop-off by helping workers quickly assess damage, support restoration efforts and send that data back to the office. Because the workers use the application in a day-to-day setting, they avoid the laborious task of relearning an application that is only used during the occasional emergency.

In a situation where mutual assistance crews are brought in, workers can get an immediate understanding of asset conditions based on a shareable mobile application. Once storm repairs and restoration is completed, a digital log of those repairs can speed regulatory reporting and post-storm reimbursement.

Beyond repair, an accurate understanding of asset conditions can extend the life of your assets by helping you identify weak points and the remedial activities that should be completed next. It also provides a reference that can confirm the age or condition of certain assets.

Conclusion

By giving a computerized record of system assignments and conditions, rapidly imparting information among groups and giving a precise preview of advantages, a portable workforce arrangement addresses a few of the real difficulties that the utility business confronts today. Quicker preparing, a speedier comprehension of ongoing conditions, and speedier information imparting – all inside one stage – implies that you will be able to settle on more educated choices that prompt quicker reactions and, eventually, to more uptime and satisfied customers.

 

Cited:  http://www.directionsmag.com/entry/three-ways-that-a-mobile-workforce-solution-benefits-utilities/431700
image cited:  https://www.motioncomputing.com/us/products/solutions/in-vehicle

IPLSA Members Volunteer Time and Expertise

provided by Shawn VanKampen

Last Saturday, 18 members of the NE Chapter of IPLSA volunteered to help start the recovery process for the Town of Fairdale, Illinois. Fairdale was in the direct path of a tornado on April 16, 2015 which destroyed almost half of the structures in town. After most of the clean-up was finished, the volunteer surveyors were allowed to survey the property corners and measure the topography. The field work will continue this Saturday with the setting of missing property corners and finalizing the topography. The Chapter is working with local authorities to provide the plats and maps needed to assist in the reconstruction process. As we all know, “Every good project always begins and ends with a good survey”. Great job to everyone who volunteered!

How Oil and Gas Surveying Will Change in 2015

In the early days of 2015, the oil and gas industry finds itself at a crossroads: external forces are in play, creating a situation where companies have to get accurate, detailed land surveys quickly, without having to pay too much for them. Those companies that can ensure the most affordability and value possible from their oil and gas surveying will be the ones that are in the best position to succeed in 2015 and beyond.

In this post, we’re going to provide a quick overview of some of the ways that land surveying for the oil and gas industry is changing in 2015.

Three ways that oil and gas surveying will change in 2015

1. The surveying technology that companies use will grow more sophisticated.

Whenever an industry faces new challenges, there will always be new technologies available to help companies overcome those challenges. This is certainly true of the oil and gas industry in 2015. In order to meet their needs for faster, more accurate land surveys at the most affordable rate possible, today’s oil and gas companies have a number of increasingly sophisticated tools in their toolbox. These include things like cloud-based systems for better communication, collaboration, and storage, advanced handheld devices to facilitate better connections between home offices and job sites, and unmanned aerial vehicles to make it easier and safer to conduct land surveys on remote or dangerous terrain.

Although these solutions are available for all oil and gas organizations, only the ones that make an effort to integrate them into their regular business processes will truly benefit from the opportunities they present.

2. Oil and gas companies will need to make turnaround time a priority.

Getting a complete and accurate land survey is a prerequisite for beginning any new project in the field. Without the completed survey, projects will have to be delayed, which costs time and money for everyone involved: that’s why it’s so important to be able to turn these surveys around quickly.This has always been the case for as long as there has been an oil and gas industry, but in 2015—when the need for value is the greatest it has ever been, and the technology needed to create that value is readily available for anyone to apply—continuing to turn out slow land surveys is simply no longer acceptable.

In 2015, oil and gas companies will focus on making quick land surveys an established part of their organizational culture. This means adopting new technologies and implementing new processes to ensure that delays are avoided as much as possible.

3. The accuracy of land surveys will reverberate throughout the entire construction process.

Most oil and gas leaders understand that accurate land surveys are important, but just how important are they really, particularly in 2015? The accuracy of a land survey affects everything that a company does after it, from the pre-project planning to the actual construction of the project itself. It’s no exaggeration to say that an accurate land survey is the foundation that the entire project rests on; if there are problems with the foundation, it could result in project delays and additional costs later on in the project.

Final thoughts

Oil and gas surveying is changing. The companies that insist on doing things the same way they’ve always done them will find themselves quickly left behind, while those that adapt to the change and ensure quick, accurate, and cost-effective land surveys will flourish.

 

Source provided by SPS
cited:  http://www.landpoint.net/how-oil-and-gas-surveying-will-change-in-2015/

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