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URISA Releases White Paper Defining the Boundaries of Practice Between Surveyors and GIS Professionals

Published Friday, October 5, 2018

In recent years, URISA's Policy Advisory Committee has facilitated several panel discussions at GIS-Pro conferences during which surveyors and GIS professionals have discussed the distinctive, yet complementary, services that each profession provides.

Surveyors and GIS professionals each create, analyze, and draw conclusions from maps and associated data. While their respective skills and responsibilities are distinct, there is sufficient overlap to have caused some conflict as to which practices are appropriate to each profession. One might say the “boundary of their professional practices” is somewhat uncertain. 

Some states have defined the practice of surveying for which licensure is required so restrictively that operation of a public agency’s GIS mandates supervision by a licensed surveyor. In some states, GIS professionals are using easily-operated GPS devices to capture the location of new elements for public agency maps - a practice traditionally reserved for licensed surveyors. This paper reviews the current definition of that professional boundary, and outlines some aspects that remain insufficiently precise. Good will and mutual respect have enabled these two professions to arrive at the current “boundary” definition, providing a model for renewed resolution of remaining uncertainties. The goal of this White Paper is to assist with the dialog by providing background and recommendations.

Both types of professionals can work together to ensure their work products are suitable for the intended purposes, and that they protect the public’s health, safety and welfare. As non-licensed map makers, it is up to GIS professionals to ensure that their geodata and maps include the metadata information necessary for them to be used appropriately.

The community is invited to download, read (and share) URISA's White Paper "Defining the Boundaries of Practice Between Surveyors and GIS Professionals - Background with Recommendations" authored by long-time member Bruce Joffe, GISP and numerous contributors from URISA's Policy Advisory Committee. 

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