Where Were We?

By now we’ve hopefully all made it safely through the 9/11 anniversary, had an opportunity to remember, and quite possibly to grieve. As a magazine we recognized the anniversary and I had a chance to share my thoughts in our September issue, but, given events that transpired since then, please bear with me as I talk about it again.

9/11 is one of those events for which each of us has our own take on things because most of us remember where we were when it all happened. That’s always a topic of discussion about the day: Where were you?

As I’m sure you know, the TV was chock full of 9/11 programs: interviews, remembrances, analyses—and, yes, some that asked, “Where were you?” One in particular caught my attention so I watched it for a couple of hours one evening. It was a Discovery Channel program titled, “Rising—Rebuilding Ground Zero.” It was, of course, about the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site and chronicled a portion of the rising of One WTC.

The show was very well done, with great production and filming that looked fantastic in HD. Its primary focus was the tower, though it also covered some of the construction aspects related to the museum and the transportation hub. The tower storyline revolved around a group of people with various roles and responsibilities, focusing on concrete workers and steel workers. Also featured were (of course) architects, engineers, planners, and landscape architects.

But in all the interviews with professionals involved in the project and all the video footage of ongoing construction, there was one thing I did not see: a surveyor. I kept waiting for an interview with Scott Zelenak or a shot of a crew setting control. Maybe a spot showcasing the state-of-the-art Core Wall System employed on the tower. But no, there was none of that.

Shortly afterward, at the PSM office, our publisher Neil Sandler mentioned that he’d heard about the show and was excited about the possibilities. Unfortunately, I had to inform him what I had not seen. It was disappointing to us both.

Now don’t get me wrong—I have nothing against the steel guys or the concrete guys. They do amazing things, things I couldn’t do. I felt a strong sense of American pride from those folks doing their jobs on such a significant undertaking. But do they not rely on us to do their work? And of course we need architects, engineers, and planners as part of a team to complete a project like this. But are we not part of that team, too?

According to programs like this, apparently not.

There were plenty of other professions, trades, and crafts not featured in this particular show, but I’m a surveyor. And, while I am not advocating taking advantage of tragedies like 9/11, I see situations such as this as hugely wasted public-relations opportunities for surveyors. We are there, and the work we do is critical on projects like One WTC, but no one knows it.

We have tremendous issues to confront, not the least of which is our public perception. The LightSquared situation is still precarious. As reported herein, fellow surveyors in some states are facing danger simply for having high-tech, high-value equipment. And, as a group, we still struggle with our role as professionals—another issue addressed this month. All while our national presence struggles. We need to get our collective act together, folks.

So I ask: Where were we?


About the Author

  • TJ Frazier, LS
    TJ Frazier, LS
    TJ Frazier is the magazine's editor for surveying and has more than 20 years experience in the surveying profession, currently as senior land surveyor for VanMar Associates in Mt. Airy, Md. He also worked in survey equipment sales for Loyola Spatial Systems, now part of Leica Geosystems. He earned a bachelor of sciences degree in business at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. He is married and has two daughters. Frazier can be reached at tj@profsurv.com.

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