A New Year

January 2012! Happy New Year and here we go … There are some interesting predictions for later this year. I can’t predict what will happen next week, but, as I’ve said before, the world is changing before our eyes—from the larger-picture, societal fronts to the surveying front. The economy, food and water, energy, politics and religion: the world faces significant challenges in each of these areas, as well as others.

Energy continues to be an issue here in the United States. Should we continue our dependence on foreign oil? Increase drilling within the United States? Move away from oil as much as possible? And, if so, what do we replace it with? These are extraordinarily difficult questions, with many consequences.

The green movement and renewable energy are omnipresent. While I don’t agree entirely with the “greenies,” I do think it would be prudent to lessen our dependence on oil, particularly foreign, but also in total. Currently electric and hybrid vehicles seem to be gaining ground in this direction. There are other positive aspects to this, but the question remains: “Where does the electricity come from?”

The answer to that, in large part, is coal: another limited, natural resource from the ground that’s difficult to retrieve. Last month we ran the first story of our feature series on the role surveying plays in coal mining, principally underground mining in the Appalachian mountain region. This series has been a long time in the making; it began with an idea in our office and conversations I had with several West Virginia and western Maryland surveyors, notably Marshall Robinson and Lantz Rankin. I knew from the start there was too much material involved for a single article, and many thanks go to all those who contributed and to our assistant editor, Nancy Luse, for pulling it all together.

Regarding the convergence of technologies and roles involved in surveying, this month we also feature an exclusive interview with John Palatiello, executive director of MAPPS. While some of you may be familiar with MAPPS, it’s likely many are not fully aware of the role MAPPS plays in our profession. Hopefully this interview will help change that. And be sure to catch a video of the entire interview on our website.

Many of you enjoy our Problem Corner by Dave Lindell and Dr. Benjamin Bloch, and we appreciate your feedback. This month we feature something from Dr. Bloch in a slightly different direction. The idea of exploring the mathematical side of surveying has percolated in my mind for some time, and I have asked Dr. Bloch to develop a series of articles to this end. This month’s column provides a general approach to problem solving, applicable to a variety of situations. In the coming months he will provide a comprehensive and detailed examination of a variety of topics related to error analysis, including standard deviation, root mean square, circular error probability, Gaussian distribution, and the like.

In addition, he will explore new concepts that defy the usual methods of mathematical analysis. To help us better serve your needs, we’re asking you to submit relevant topics of interest. To start the ball rolling, here are some questions for consideration:
  • Are there topographic features that defy conventional measurement?
  • Are values listed in reference tables the “true values”?
  • How precise are laser beams?
  • Does the process of making a measurement alter its original value?
  • When do you have enough data to stop taking measurements?
We’re looking forward to helpful, educational—and interesting—discussions. We hope you find value in this and, as always, welcome your input.


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.

» Back to our January 2012 Issue