Tag Archives: Education

Building the Capacity FIG 2010

The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) congress rolls into town this week (Sydney April 11-16) and from all the hype surrounding this congress it will no doubt be a well received and a great learning opportunity. Of course, FIG is not primarily aimed at traditional surveyors, the ten commissions setup cover everything from education and standards to spatial data infrastructures, planning and development , real estate, valuations and also construction economics. In all, FIG covers everything to do with land and as we are seeing more and more evidence of, almost all information collected is being linked back to the land.

What does this mean to the Young Professional?

FIG is large, it is a global body tasked with promoting professional practice and standards for all things surveying. As this congress theme is ‘Facing the Challenges – Building the Capacity’ there looks to be underwhelming support on how we grow this industry as a whole. To a young professional it is an exciting time to be involved. We have seen in the past few years that giants such as Google has taken what we do and thrust it into the limelight. Google Maps if anything has heightened the value of visualising information in map form yet there is little understanding of how this information is generated, maintained and delivered to applications such as Google Maps.

Facing the Challenges

Increasing the awareness and importance of the Surveying and Spatial Industries does present a challenge to us. The challenges lie in growing the interest of students to study and join our profession, in increasing the importance of location in all types of data, the connection and integration of data and the interpretation of data providing the evidence to build and prepare for the future. No small task by anyone’s imagination.

During this congress the Young Surveyors Group are holding a number of sessions as well as presenting on topics of how to attract more young professionals into this industry. The roundtable discussion scheduled for Tuesday 13th of April will surely be an interesting open discussion on how we as a whole can tackle these issues. It is nice to see that through a structured congress, social mediums such as Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/thewinternet?ref=mf#!/event.php?eid=375142717231&index=1) provide the tools to reach out and invite all those who have an interest to voice their opinions both online and face to face.

The plenary sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday titled ‘Spatially Enabled Society and  ‘The Big Challenges’ respectively are shaping to be very interesting talks and I wholeheartedly recommend arriving early for a good seat.

The week will sure to be jammed packed and while I and others will be there at 7am each morning to help setup and coordinate the activities I hope to see you all at FIG 2010. If the registrations are anything to go by this will surely be the biggest congress of its type in Australia for the last few years.


Spatial Industry Marketing – Where is the next generation?

As the New Year grinds into motion I take a look at the spatial education industry within Australia. Recently the Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI) and the Institute of Surveyors Australia (ISA) merged and formed the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute. (www.spatialsciences.org) This single body represents all the geomatic sciences and industries in Australia and is the representative body for FIG (http://www.fig.net) on the global stage.SUrveying and Spatial Sciences Institute

The amalgamation of these two bodies was not an easy task for the merger committee to accomplish throughout 2008 and 09. Firstly, in Australia, the Surveying discipline is divided between a traditional surveying degree and a Geographic Information Sciences degree thereby leading to a distinction between a surveyor and a GIS/spatial professional. This divide itself is quite uncommon within the global industry as we can see from the FIG definition of what a surveyor is:

—- —– —–
A surveyor is a professional person with the academic qualifications and technical expertise to conduct one, or mInternational Federation of Surveyorsore, of the following activities;
•    to determine, measure and represent land, three-dimensional objects, point-fields and trajectories;
•    to assemble and interpret land and geographically related information,
•    to use that information for the planning and efficient administration of the land, the sea and any structures thereon; and,
•    to conduct research into the above practices and to develop them.
—- —– —–

As with the definition above, the divide within Australia of a Surveyor and a Spatial/GIS professional is potentially damaging and can affect the next generation of potential surveyor/spatial professionals. The need for capacity building within the industry is now paramount as we have seen with the explosion of ‘location’ services. By providing a professional consultancy to location information, the Surveying and Spatial industry is primed to become a leading force for the future.

In guiding the next generation into this industry it is important to focus on building a ‘brand’ that easily defines what we do and showcases the value to the overall Australian economy. By doing this the definition of the Spatial/Surveying industry remain a key challenge to the overcome and ensure that the general awareness of the industry becomes known to the lay-person.

In building brand it is important to focus on grass root development and linking the outcomes of what we work on day to day to lead to recognising the learning courses available throughout our universities. We see in Australia that Surveying and GIS generally falls under the Engineering or Science faculties with some other universities grouping ‘spatial’ within the urban development faculties. A single identify that is easily recognisable will no doubt drive the industry forward. It is good to see that the first steps have been taken with the merger. Now it is up to us to instigate the cultural change throughout our peers to fully recognise and drive the future directions of the industry.

p.s. My ranting here is part of a joint presentation titled “Identity Crisis:
Challenges and Capacity Building for Next Generation Surveyors” that will be given at FIG 2010 in Sydney (April 11 – 16). More information can be found at www.fig2010.com)