About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents
 
advertisement


Subscriptions
Product Reviews
Software Reviews
Sponsored By

Continuing Series
     RTN
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By


Partner Sites

machinecontrolonline 

LiDAR News

symbianone
lbszone.com

GISuser.com

GeoJobs.biz

GeoLearn

 

Spatial Media LLC properties

Associates

ASPRS

newsnow 

Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

Point to Point: Forward-thinking Boundary Retracement Print E-mail
Written by Joel Leininger, LS   
Wednesday, 30 May 2007

A 371Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Reduced to the absolute core and stripped of all the baggage we have picked up along the way, surveyors answer one basic question for society: Where?

"Where is my property line?" "Where should the footing be placed?" "Where is the limit of this restriction?" The complexities of accurately answering those questions (and the questions that naturally flowed from those answers) set practitioners apart from the general public. This has been true since time immemorial.

Consider what the Roman statesman Cassiodorus (490-585A.D.) wrote with respect to our predecessors: "The Professors of this Science [of land surveying] are honoured with a more earnest attention than falls to the lot of any other philosophers. Arithmetic, Theoretical Geometry, Astronomy, and Music are discoursed upon to listless audiences, sometimes to empty benches. But the land surveyor is like a judge; the deserted fields become his forum, crowded with eager spectators. You would fancy him a madman when you see him walking along the most devious paths. But in truth he is seeking for the traces of lost facts in rough woods and thickets. He walks not as other men walk. His path is the book from which he reads; he shows what he is saying; he proves what he hath learned; by his steps he divides the rights of hostile claimants; and like a mighty river he takes away the fields of one side to bestow them on the other."

Good stuff. But, at least with respect to some of our services, the times they are a-changing.

In my last two essays I explored the changes upon us wrought by technological advancements, primarily GPS-driven machines and readily-available satellite data. Together, they represent a threat to the majority of work now offered by many survey firms (and survey departments of multi-disciplinary firms). I would be remiss if I did not address the impact of technology on the centerpiece of our contribution to society: boundary retracement. At first glance, it would seem (and, in fact, has seemed to some observers) that GIS data concerning property boundary location coupled with GPS retracement would eliminate the need for professional surveyors. Think of it: precise data documenting precise locations, recovered using automatic equipment. The core question is answered, and without hiring the guys with the tripod.

What's Not to Like?
The central, irreplaceable element in the new technologies is reliable data. Without data as to what the finished terrain must look like, machine control instrumentation is merely an expensive decoration on earthmoving equipment. Omit the finished model and the technique runs aground (no pun intended). Equally as important, there can be only one model designated as the finished product. Supply two or more overlapping models and the equipment cannot function (or will produce unpredictable results). Similarly, designers who attempt to use two sets of satellite topography on the same project are likely in for annoyances when construction begins, because anomalies resulting from the juxtaposition of the disparate sets of data will inadvertently be incorporated into the design. The design, then, will not anticipate the actual site conditions.

Machine control does work, however, because the destination model is a creation of the designer. It is not his opinion as to what might be, it is his direction as to what must be. Therefore, in carving the earth in accordance with the model, the equipment is carrying out the designer's directions.

Property Data
But how about the data as to existing property boundaries? Where does that come from? In a nutshell, the difference between boundary data and nearly everything else represented in a typical GIS is that boundary data represents someone's opinion, the distilled result after correctly considering perhaps hundreds of years of evidence in light of relevant law. Or not. And there lies the problem. It also could be someone's half-hearted attempt to enter a deed description into the system by just taking raw courses and distances from the current deed and rotating the resulting figure such that it butts up against its neighbors. (The latter is more likely, given the budget pressures on GIS departments.)

In this instance the technology does not fail us; the lack of reliable, off-theshelf data fails us. Does that mean that retracement surveyors cannot enjoy the fruits of new technology? Of course not. But I don't see fundamental shifts coming in our thinking with respect to boundaries.

For reliable off-the-shelf boundary data to be routinely available to retracers, either a massive ­ binding on property owners ­ resurvey of all properties would be required, or the discarding of most of settled boundary doctrine. Cost would dictate that the latter be implemented.

Some years back I wrote about the push in some quarters to abandon evidentiary retracement in favor of purely mathematical approaches. I pointed out then the ripple effects that would accompany such a move, such as the elimination of adverse possession and prescription, senior and junior rights, the rules of construction, etc. A wholesale amputation of large parts of real property law would be required in order to effect that plan, and I don't see that in the cards. Nor, frankly, should we want that to happen.

Here We Go Again
And yet, some continue to see it as inevitable. Of course it is possible for us to convince society that some of retracement doctrine should be dropped in favor of automatic methods, since we are, after all, to whom society has delegated retracement responsibility, and the ones routinely called-upon to opine on the "true" locations. Society, rightly, would assume that we knew what we were talking about. I can't think of a single reason why we should do so, however.

The better of these options is to recognize that some tasks are not suitable to automatic solutions. And that's all right.

Joel Leininger is a principal of S.J. Martenet & Co. in Baltimore and Associate Editor of the magazine.

A 371Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

 
< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Editorial 
Editorial: The Fire Alarm
Based on the reaction to our exposé of an attempt to remove boundary experience from the requirements to sit for a licensing exam, we seem to have struck a nerve. An educator from New Mexico chastised me for allowing the magazine to be "divisive, vilify the efforts of other ....
Read the Article
Wendy Lathrop
Vantage Point: Introducing TMAC-2
One of the closing suggestions of the first Technical Mapping Advisory Council to FEMA (TMAC-1), which convened from 1996 through 2000, was for an ongoing advisory group of technical users, something more permanent than its own five-year statutory span. The recommendations of TMAC-1 ....
Read the Article
Michael J. Pallamary, PS 
The Curt Brown Chronicles: The Future for the Land Surveyor
Curt Brown spent a considerable amount of time and energy in advancing the interests of the profession and, as he astutely noted, notwithstanding the evolution of measuring equipment, the fundamentals components of the profession merit consideration and attention. Then, as now, the future ....
Read the Article
Jason E.
Foose, PS 
The HP 35s Calculator—A Field Surveyor's Companion—Part 5- Inverse to a Line or Perpendicular Offset
This program is comparable to "inverse to line" and "station/offset" routines. The user enters a base point and defines a direction by point or azimuth, then selects a third point for reference. I use this routine frequently ....
Read the Article
Natalie Binder 
Moving London Safely Forward
Paddington Station, ­famous worldwide not only for its creator Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but also for a small marmalade loving bear. Built in 1854, Paddington Station is a fine example of an English Heritage grade 1 listed building and is site to the ....
Read the Article
Smith,
Roman, Youngman 
Recent Activities at the National Geodetic Survey—Part 2 of 4
The Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum (or GRAV-D) project got off the ground, literally, in 2007 when NGS's first airborne gravity flights took place. Today the GRAV-D airplanes continue to fly! With a second airborne gravimeter acquired in December 2011, NGS has been ....
Read the Article
Jerry Penry,
PS 
The Pole of Inaccessibility
The most challenging location to reach due to its remoteness from geographical features is known as a pole of inaccessibility. Generally, this calculated position is furthest from any coastline and would be the location where you would least like to be ....
Read the Article
Larry Trojak 
Use of Total Station Spawns Improvements in Salmon Monitoring Program
Think surveying equipment and it's not likely that an organization working to ensure the survival of the Pacific Northwest's salmon population comes to mind. Yet that is precisely what's ....
Read the Article
Albert “skip” Theberge 
Artillery Surveyors in WWII—Africa & Europe: Part 3: Survey Officers
Lieutenant Colonel Earle Deily, on loan from the USC&GS, was Survey Officer for the V Corps and the 17th Field Artillery Observation Battalion providing survey control to the battalion, training survey teams, and advising the V Corps Artillery Commander. He helped plan for the D-Day invasion and ....
Read the Article
Feedback 
FeedBack
I read with great interest your editorial and comments concerning Chad and Linda Erickson's article on an Idaho initiative to redefine the definition of surveying in Idaho state statutes. I am not familiar with the specifics of what is being proposed and will leave it to others to decide the ....
Read the Article
Bill Chupka,
PS 
100 Years Too Late?
There have been times in my life when I had more than just a foot in the past. Ever feel like you are one of those people who was born a hundred years too late? I remember feeling that way at times when I was young, but I was able to put all those thoughts to rest this summer over the span ....
Read the Article

deliciousrssnewsletterlinkedinfacebooktwitter

Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
please
contact Amerisurv


Google
 
AMERISURV TOP NEWS

30cm Satt Images
Now Available

GOT NEWS? Send To
press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content

Sponsor


News Feeds

 
Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps
Careers

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.

 

Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 

twitter

 




The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
905 W 7th St #331
Frederick MD 21701
301-620-0784
301-695-1538 - fax