[OSGeo-Discuss] Fwd: [Gisusers] GIS and Surveying in Florida

Daniel Ames dan.ames at isu.edu
Fri Feb 4 13:08:49 PST 2011

(Sorry for cross posting. But if you haven't seen this read on - and close
your GIS office in Florida. )

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Keith Weber <webekeit at isu.edu>
Date: Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 1:52 PM
Subject: [Gisusers] GIS and Surveying in Florida
To: gisusers at mm.isu.edu

Subject: Florida Board's decision

I wanted to let those of you who have expressed an interest in this case
that the Florida Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers gave me their
verbal answer at today's hearing, although the written order will not be out
for a few weeks.  I had expected that they would either refuse to answer the
question or find that everything was surveying.  They did both during a
hearing that was mostly a series of personal attacks on me with little time
spent on the actual issue.

The technical answer is that they rejected the petition because the answer
was so obvious as to not present a controversy.  The short real answer is
that the Board eliminated the GIS profession in Florida today.  They put the
bright line defining the limits of licensed practice of surveying and
mapping at the far edge, saying that no one except a licensed surveyor or
someone under the direct charge of a licensed surveyor can compile any
spatial data or produce any map.  There are no exceptions based on scale,
accuracy requirement, geographic extent, subject, public/private
distinction, internal/external distinction, or historical precedence.
Everything is a survey and must meet the technical requirements of a survey,
as defined in administrative rules.  Everything.

I specifically asked about a number of common practices by non-surveyors,
such as using GPS units to compile utility inventory data, tracing the
apparent outline of features visible in an orthophotograph, and deriving
features from LiDAR data using software.  I even went to my old standby, law
enforcement using transits and photogrammetry to document crash and crime
scenes.  All were judged to require a license.  I also asked about
geographers drawing maps, and, and again, the answer was no, only surveyors
can draw maps.  In response to my testimony that I use GIS to create maps,
the Board directed that I be charged with the unlicensed practice of
surveying.  They also directed that I stop using the ASPRS Certified Mapping
Scientist credential, as it was judged as misleading people into believing
that I held a surveying license due to the presence of the word "Mapping" in
the title.  My use of this credential will also be part of the unlicensed
practice charge, as will my preparation of the LiDAR RFP, as only someone
qualified to do the work can prepare a procurement for it.  The only thing
they said I could do is design databases and software.  Anything related to
spatial data itself required a surveying license.

The longer answer is that the stage has been set for a legislative approach
to the problem.  By finding my activities as an employee of the City of
Ocoee to constitute the unlicensed practice of surveying, they are also
exposing the City to such a charge and resulting fines.  This now moves the
issue into the realm of the City having to defend the charges.  I spent the
afternoon with the City Attorney, City Engineer, Assistant City Manager, and
certain well-placed political folks.  My complaints regarding the unlicensed
practice by others will be filed soon.  A more detailed article will be
written once we get the transcript.

As you may know, I have resigned from the URISA Policy Committee in order to
avoid any possibility of your being judge as co-conspirators.  So, if you
want to do something soon, it will need to be on your own initiative.  BTW,
the CCNA reform legislation to add best-value procurement is in bills in
both house of the Florida Legislature.  We will likely use those as vehicles
to make clarifications regarding the scope of surveying and mapping.

Al Butler

505 E Esther St

Orlando, FL 32806


*abutler at mpzero.com*

Gisusers mailing list
Gisusers at mm.isu.edu

Daniel P. Ames, Ph.D. PE
Associate Professor, Geosciences
Idaho State University - Idaho Falls
amesdani at isu.edu
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