Survey Summit Uncovers New Technology

A couple of underlying themes surfaced at the 2013 Survey Summit. One: Technologies including GIS, lidar, 3D, CAD, and GPS can play well together. Two: Surveyors and engineers and GIS professionals can play well with each other, and with new technology.

The event was held July 6–9, leading up to the Esri UC. Attendees included nearly 200 people from the geospatial community who care about high-accuracy mapping, surveying, and civil engineering. All guests enjoyed a warm, breezy welcome from the San Diego marina as well as friendly, attentive staff from Esri and the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

Throughout the two-day conference, talk surrounded game-changing new technology as well as improvements to existing technology.


Neil Vancans, of Altus Positioning Systems, presented on advances to GPS and explained how to achieve high precision in an Esri environment.

Michael Dennis, of the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), talked about efforts to define, maintain, and provide access to the National Spatial Reference System. He emphasized how important it is for GIS and geodesy to support one another.

Curt Sumner updated the crowd on what’s going on with the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), and echoed a common sentiment of the weekend that surveyors must embrace new technologies.

Gene Roe gave information about the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and discussed the challenge of infrastructure disrepair in the United States.

Brian Matsubara, Head of Global Technology Alliances at Amazon Web Services, delivered a well-received keynote speech on the history and business model of Amazon. He enlightened the audience with one of Amazon’s ruling philosophies, “think about what won’t change over the next three to five to ten years, and improve upon that.”

Game Changers

Graebert, a leading developer of custom CAD software, solutions, and services, announced the release of a new plugin that integrates the ArcGIS Online mapping platform with DraftSight, the popular 2D CAD drafting product from Dassault Systèmes. According to Rick Hessdorfer, this plugin enables “engineers to design on top of real-world geography,” and brings about the “confluence of CAD and GIS so we can bring more CAD users into the GIS world.”

Richard Nava, a geographer at Geedop, presented “GeoDesigning in the Cloud: Online Design of Low Distortion Projection,” a methodology that gives surveyors and engineers a projection surface that is closer to the ground and helps move data into GIS.

Sharad Garg, of Aman Enterprises, shared a cable solution that connects iOS devices to various industry leading GPS/GNSS receivers via a standard serial interface. The cable is compatible with all location-aware iOS apps, is plug-and-play ready, and is licensed and certified by Apple.

Wrap Up

At the closing session of the Survey Summit, David Totman, Esri’s Global Industry Manager for Public Works, AEC, and Survey, expressed gratitude for the strong relationships among the GIS community and NSPS, ASCE, and NGS.

“We are all struggling to embrace new technology and we are all trying to do our jobs,” Totman said. “Now, we are learning how traditional survey can play with GIS tools. We are seeing that CAD and GIS can coexist. We are learning that high precision can be made possible by a cable.”

The crowd expressed positive reviews of the event and enthusiasm to return next year.

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