A VerySpatial Podcast – Special Episode 15

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A VerySpatial Podcast
Shownotes – Special Episode 15
February 7, 2007

Main Topic: Interview with David DiBiase about MAPPS v. US

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  • Note: In addition to asking David DiBiase to offer his personal opinion of the case, we also contacted MAPPS and other interested parties, who have not yet responded

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    4 thoughts on “A VerySpatial Podcast – Special Episode 15

    1. Both MAPPS and AAG raise some valid points, however I do have to express some puzzlement and raise some exceptions to some of the arguments that have been posited with regard to examinations, licensure and enforcement within the licensed community, as opposed to outside the licensed community.

      This battle is bringing some of the mutual ignorance of both sides to the fore.

      Some of the issues that Mr. DiBiase raised with regard to the effectiveness of qualifications and licensure in the licensed community would tend to also, by the same application, undermine the GISP community, counter to Mr. DiBiase’s efforts toward promoting professionalism with the GISP. Certainly the system of licensure and enforcement is not perfect – and nobody ever said it was – but it does have infrastructure and teeth toward protecting the public and toward promoting standards of care and professionalism, which the GIS community is only beginning to pursue.

      On the other hand, I know of many in the surveying community who have domain expertise in certain aspects of GIS, particularly data collection, data quality, geodesy, cadastral issues, but who do not have the full depth and breadth of expertise across all aspects of GIS, and who would be working outside their expertise and competency.

      On the other side of the fence, there are those unlicensed individuals in the GIS field who in some instances stray into the areas covered under broad licensing laws, and occasionally cross the like outright, such as in cadastral issues – and there have been instances where public harm has occurred due to misuse of GIS data by practitioners in a few instances.

      I do have an interesting perspective on this, as I am a GIS contractor in the federal arena, and I am also a licensed Professional Land Surveyor and licensed Professional Engineer. I also sit on the Registration Board for Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists for the Commonwealth of PA.

      As such, I can’t pick sides, but am bound by whatever the outcome may be.

      From my perspective as a GIS contractor in the Federal arena, I can say that many other firms doing federal GIS contracting do have licensed professionals in-house. However, many do not.

      I can also say that there are many firms represented by MAPPS, URISA, AAG and other organizations which do federal contracting, but far more which do not (they instead do state, regional and private sector work). So it’s a mix, and those affected by any change in the interpretation of the Brooks Act are probably far more limited than what seems to be portrayed.

      I would not view a change in the Brooks Act interpretation, should that be the outcome, as an earthshattering event – Firms doing GIS work in the federal arena could certainly retain licensed professionals on staff if they don’t already have them, should it be the outcome.

      I will stand in the sidelines and will just hope that we don’t end up with something 90° to what either party has been pursuing throughout this. It’s a complex issue, with many gray areas, to say the least. I hope that clarity comes of it.

    2. I apologize for coming to this conversation late, I just found out about it on your podcast as I listened to it on 2/18 while breaking up the ice on my driveway here in WV’s Eastern Panhandle.

      As a surveyor licensed in WV, VA, and PA, and GIS Liaison for the West Virginia Society of Professional Surveyors, I am troubled by the portrayal of this lawsuit as something promulgated by “surveyors”. The acronym MAPPS stands for Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors. It is an association of photogrammetrists, some of whom are licensed surveyors, but many of whom are not (some states require licensure as Professional Surveyors for photogrammetrists [VA] while others do not [WV]. Intrestingly, MAPPS appears to oppose licensure of photogrammetrists while using the licensed indviduals in their organization as a reason for this lawsuit. But I digress…). Therefore, to my mind, they represent a small portion of the surveying community, not the surveying community at large. In fact, of the other parties to the suit, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and Council on Federal Procurement of Architectural and Engineering Services (COFPAES), only COFPAES represents surveyors and then only tangentially through the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping’s membership in this loosely confederated lobbying organization.

      I consider myself to be represented by the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), not MAPPS, so I looked to see if NSPS and its umbrella organization ACSM had a position on this suit. ACSM chose not to be involved after COFPAES asked them to. As I understand it, ACSM and NSPS’s position is that while part of the suit is valid in claiming that some governmental departments are not properly following the Brooks Act, they do not agree with MAPPS’s apparent attempt to broaden the definition of “mapping services”. ACSM interprets the type of mapping defined by the Brooks Act as requiring the involvement of a licensed individual to be that involving the “contructed environment”, i.e. roads, bridges, buildings, and so on. I would extend that to include mapping for projects that would affect public health and welfare, a phrase included as part of the reason for licensure of professionals in most state codes.

      To sum up, I support ACSM’s postion, not MAPPS’s. In an informal poll that I conducted at the WVSPS’s Convention in Charleston last weekend, all the surveyors I talked to agree with me. This lawsuit reflects the position of the photogrammetric community in particular, not surveying community at large.

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