12-21-12 – Never Let a Crisis Go To Waste

The problem with predicting an impending crisis is that you just cant anticipate all the variables. I think we all, if we have thought about it, questioned the outcome of any activity surrounding 12-21-12 the Mayan Calendar and Nostradamus predictions sensationalizing an event that will either be spiritual, devastating, or hype. Numerologists have their theories that surround December 21, 2012 yet, there is still uneasiness about any situation beyond our control. Do I believe on this date some major event will happen? Not sure, but as a surveyor and father of two teenagers what I do know is that you never want to let a serious crisis to go to waste.

We can prevent. There are safeguards you can put in place that serve as an intervention to a potential crisis. The most important safeguard happens through education. Example: A number of misconceptions, led by the rapid expanse of sophisticated technologies, have sparked a quiet revolution in where and how many surveyors do their jobs. Solution: Surveyors need to understand technology like Terrestrial Mobile LiDAR Scanning (TMLS) is not a threat to eliminate their profession (because that would be a crisis). Instead, be educated in ways to perform their profession safer, expand business and increase opportunities. We need to prevent misconceptions about technology just like we did when the total station and the GPS threatened the surveyor mind-set of professional stability. We survived because the profession adapted. You cannot prevent all things.

We can plan. Hurricane Sandy is a good example of not applying technology as prevention. FEMA stated that despite the incentives offered, communities do little to prepare themselves from natural disasters, which were evident in the more than 100 municipalities declaring federal emergency in the aftermath of Sandy. But, there are preventative tools for planning for such events that can reduce damage to power lines and help communities get back on line. TMLS can document existing fall zones, sway and sag of trees along the power grid. Power companies and engineers can then use this as is data to evaluate potential threats to overhead power lines and surrounding high risk conditions before a storm event, thereby minimizing damage. New Jersey’s biggest utility, Public Service Electric & Gas, had to cut down 41,000 trees, replace 2,500 poles and install 1,000 new transformers after Sandy and at its peak, 77 percent of PSE&G’S 2.2 million customers lost power. Prevention and planning go hand-in hand, but it always appears more evident in hind-sight.

We can respond. I have always maintained that its not if a crisis arises but when. How you respond to the crisis governs the outcome. Face it, no one is immune from conflict. It is said that the difference between problems and crises is not the size or the degree of conflict they cause it is that problems are slow and crises are sudden. Response is either emotional, or motivated by loyalties, or promotes flight. Prevention and planning mitigates the damage through appropriate guided response. Those that prepared in 2000, may still have their portable generators responding to Y2K and Im sure are being brought out from the back of the garage for this next potential crisis. The result of response comes only in hindsight. Maintaining the status quo is not an option once crisis occurs and emotional response to readiness really only prolongs the crisis with a false sense of security.

So, whether the crisis is Nostradamus, Y2K, or natural disaster, utilizing available technology for response readiness is a good resource for quick recovery. Problem again with hindsight this posting is only valuable if we are around on December 22, 2012. I predict the sun will rise on 12/22/12 but if Im wrong? Oops sorry, we will discuss it then!

About the Author

Michael R. Frecks, P.L.S

Michael R. Frecks, P.L.S... founded Terrametrix, LLC in 2008 to meet the needs for safer more efficient roadway and streetscape documentation using 3D laser technology. Terrametrix is a service provider allowing engineering, architect and surveying companies to become involved in Terrestrial Mobile LiDAR Scanning (TMLS) documentation without the capital investment. Terrametrix utilizes the StreetMapper 360 mobile technology along with a variety of portable tools like the handheld oscillating scanner for more defined areas to customize projects. His extensive experience in high tech 3D laser scanning as a consultant and advisor, along with 36 years of experience in the field of land surveying, a PLS since 1992, makes him an innovator in the field. Michael's experience of solving problems in the AEC disciplines has enhanced the efficiency of laser scanning by indentifying which tools to use for specific results and is an advocate of the use of 3D imaging systems to accurately characterize "as-is" conditions of existing conditions. This approach to field measurement and documentation increases the accuracy, availability and usability of virtual, smart object modeling for BIM and TIM within the design. His career project portfolio includes documentation for world-wide UNESCO identified sites; plant environments including nuclear and processing facilities; architectural documentation of theatres, plazas and historic buildings; and transportation/civil documentation.
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