Land Journal November–December 2017

Mike Swain

Editor, Land Journal (RICS)

There is a revolution going on in the development and application of satellite technology, and much of it is highly relevant to surveyors.


I learned about some of the advances on a fascinating visit to the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell, Oxfordshire. The company operates between universities and industry as a not-for-profit research organisation to bring accessible technologies to new markets, and helps businesses to work with space-based services in areas such as intelligent transport, the oceanic economy, government services, sustainable living and ecology.

I mention this because Daniel Wicks, Senior Earth Observation Specialist at the catapult, is giving the evening geomatics lecture on 9 November – and there is also a strong technology element to this issue of Land Journal.

Bob Thompson, Miquela Bezuidenhoudt and Andrew Waller of Remit Consulting summarise their recent insight paper on the five technologies that are going to have the biggest impact on surveying over the coming years (pp.12–13).

Graeme Phipps meanwhile explains how satellite-based remote sensing can help surveyors by monitoring ground movements in London (pp.10–11), and Dave Ramsey outlines the link between RICS data standards and proptech (p.14).

Brian Coutts in his piece (p.9) even goes so far as to argue that the term “land surveyor” no longer describes the capabilities of today’s professional, and suggests “geospatial surveyor” might be a more accurate description. It would be interesting to hear how many agree.

Elsewhere, the main article is on the need to investigate old mine workings in a range of historical data before commencing new developments, to reduce the risk of costly subsidence (pp.6–8). And among our usual wide range of features, we have pieces on new rural arbitration guidance (pp.16-17) as well as mediation in neighbour disputes (pp.24–26).

Finally, I was privileged recently to go to the launch of the new BBC series Blue Planet II, narrated by Sir David Attenborough and starting on 29 October, which I thoroughly recommend. Technology is enabling the film-makers to delve deeper in the oceans and get closer to the creatures that live there. But there is also an environmental theme to this series, highlighting the fragility of the oceans, especially the damage being done by plastics.

Pollution by plastics is attracting increasing attention from campaigners and politicians. Sir David said: “We can do something about plastic right now. I just wish we would. We have some tragedies because of plastic in the ocean. An albatross came back after three days to feed its chick and what it brought back was plastic. We could do something about plastic tomorrow.

“We have a responsibility. We think we live away from the oceans. But what we do here has a direct effect on the ocean, and what the ocean does reflects on us. We are one world. For the first time in 500m years, one species has the future of the world in their hands. I just hope they realise this.”

Comments (1)

  1. I read with interest the article by Brian Coutts about what the 'land surveying' profession should be called, given the advances and applications in technology. I personally have never embraced the term geomatics - what do we call ourselves, geomaticians, geomaticists? - and like Brian would prefer to retain at least some essence of the former description. Geospatial Surveyor or Engineer seems to fit the bill, then at least we will still be surveyors or engineers, with a well-understood and cogent descriptor defining what we are about. I believe this would equally embrace my own branch of buried services surveying, as I am also concerned with positioning. Other branches such as hydrographic would be equally well served, though I would fully understand if this long-established branch wished to retain the name which refers back through its long and worthy traditions.

    Jeremy Galtress Jeremy Galtress, 16 November at 08:36AM

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