President's Report December 2017


gypsy10.jpgGaby van Wyk

As professionals it is our responsibility to remain relevant and to see to it that the organisations we work for also remain relevant.  After all, that is really what CPD is all about.  Keeping the professional workforce relevant is one of the main drivers for FIG this year.  So I want you to stop and ponder the concept of relevance from a few different perspectives for a moment.

Personal Relevance

Many years ago I learned how to apply Dana Tomlin's Map Algebra using a product called ReSpan.  That product now no longer exists and professor Tomlin has updated his spatial analysis schemata.  Different software platforms today completely automates many of the operations I had to do manually in the old system, meaning that a lot of the original knowledge I had, has today become quite irrelevant.  If I did not continually upgrade my knowledge as well as the way I applied it, I would now also be quite irrelevant.

In the past it was OK for a surveyor to do a survey and submit the results on paper maps or plans, today we know that that is no longer relevant - although digital is not a requirement yet, it makes more sense and saves a lot of costs.  In the same way, it is no longer relevant to perform and submit a plan with coordinates based on a local system only.  In Australia all surveyors should tie their work into the GDA / MGA framework, otherwise the work is irrelevant to the greater economy.  It is not wrong, but it forces others to redo work that was already done.  Cadastral work is no longer purely about land tenure and the definition of boundaries. The Cadastral data forms the foundation for many applications and are therefore crucial to all the other spatial disciplines within the spatial industry.  Therefore it especially, has to be relevant to the greater picture.  It may seem surprising that I mention this, but I undertand that there are still surveyors who only work in local systems and there are still councils who accept local system data.  They leave it over to the land authority to make the connections, meaning that it takes longer for our cadastres to be maintained.  Remember that we are all part of the greater industry, and our work directly impacts others.

Organisational Relevance

I recently had to assist a large organisation to sort out issues they had within their spatial data.  A few years back, this organisation developed a highly complex, integrated GIS platform.  Expansive growth and new land developments within their jurisdictions meant that, whilst their physical jurisdiction boundaries remained the same, the amount of cadastral units and the services to those units had more than doubled since they started their GIS system.  The system configuration was now no longer relevant.  The operational processes were outdated and could not deliver.   Unfortunately the  thinking of the organisational management was still stuck ten years in the past.  It turns out that their problems were rather complex, but mostly caused by staff who were not really equipped to manage a complex enterprise spatial system.  The staff they employ are paid irrelevant wages and therefore the good people left.  The engineers in charge considered knowledge of a software platform the only criteria for appointing new staff and so new people  were actually not capable to build and manage the systems required.  As an organisation they had become quite irrelevant.  

It is true that the spatial industry is a fast paced, constantly changing industry.  As professionals it is not good enough to simply do what we always used to do.   It is our responsibility to learn and to apply that knowledge to our own work.  But that is not enough, we also have a responsibility towards the organisations we work in as well as our larger industry.  Constant change is today the only constant.  And we have to keep up with change and take others with us.

sssi agm

We recently held our AGM in Bathurst and I would like to invite all to review all the reports.  As members it will be good for all to have a look at these - it is after all your institute! You can access the reports here.

I would like to finish off by wishing everyone a great festive time.  Let’s enjoy this time and also be relevant to our families and friends!


Gabriel van Wyk
Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)

Telephone:  +61 2 6282 2282 | Facsimile:  +61 2 6282 2576
Postal Address:  PO Box 307  DEAKIN WEST  ACT  2600 
Location Address:  27 – 29 Napier Close, National Surveyors House  DEAKIN  ACT  2600  |