From The Editor: Transportation Bill to Provide Much Needed Boost to the Geospatial Industry

A 612Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

Welcome all LiDAR-nauts to the December/January issue of LiDAR Magazine! The geospatial industry and all those involved in LiDAR, mapping, surveying, photogrammetry and capturing reality have reason to celebrate. Congress finally reached an agreement on a bill to keep highway and transit aid flowing to states.

On Tuesday December 1, the House and Senate reached an agreement on a 5-year, $281 billion transportation bill that will increase spending to address the nation’s aging and congested highways and transit systems.

The badly needed bill will put an end to the temporary extensions and Any type of infrastructure threats of government work is almost always shutdowns that have preceded by some type plagued transportation programs and crippled of topographic survey, states ability to plan mapping, capturing reality long-term projects for the past seven years. and creating as-builts.

This has great portend for the Geospatial industry. Any type of infrastructure work is almost always preceded by some type of topographic survey, mapping, capturing reality and creating as-builts. We live in a three dimensional world and it is just a matter of time before it is captured digitally …LiDAR and photogrammetry are the best means to achieve this goal.

When it comes to maintaining its roads, bridges and other infrastructure, the United States rates a dismal D+ according to the infrastructure report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The organization estimates that a $3.6 trillion investment is necessary over the next five years to catch up.

The bill falls short of the $400 billion over six years that Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said is needed to address traffic congestion issues. However, it does boost highway spending by 15 percent and transit spending by 18 percent over its duration. It also authorizes $10 billion over five years for Amtrak, $12 billion for mass transit and $1 billion for vehicle safety programs.

In its first year, the approximately $300 billion bill increases spending on highways by $2.1 billion above current levels. By the final year, in 2020, the bump will be $6.1 billion above the approximately $50 billion that has been spent in recent years. Survey and mapping businesses should be beneficiaries of this bill, but it’s not just a matter of showing up.

The economic goose provided by the Transportation Bill will provide stimulus to this industry and will lead to many engineering, construction and surveying firms to jump on the 3 dimension band wagon.

In this issue of LiDAR Magazine, Ken Smerz provides a word of caution in his article "Do It Yourselfers…Beware. " An emerging trend in the commercial construction world is for a contractor to start a department … to lead their company on the integration of 3d technology. The contractor purchases a laser scanner with very little quantifiable analysis or understanding of the possible applications, but because they believe it’s the wave of the future and they don’t want to get left behind. Unfortunately in many cases it’s the dog that caught the bus.

LiDAR Magazine is committed to promoting adoption of new technologies, and one initiative to this end is the LiDAR Magazine Webinar Series. On December 3rd, we hosted the latest in the series, "Getting Into the Game: The Business of 3D Laser Scanning" sponsored by FARO. The panel of 3D imaging experts included Lukas Duruttya, Director of 2D and 3D Measurement Training and Technical Support for DiCarlo Precision Instrument; Jonathan Sever, HDLS project manager in the Pennoni Newark Delaware office with over 18 years of Engineering and Survey experience in the AEC industry; and Shaheed Smith, PLS in Pennsylvania and Delaware with over 20 years of experience and Principal at SAS Geospatial, LLC based in the Philadelphia region.

The interactive discussion focused on how easy it has become to incorporate 3D laser scanning into daily workflows and how quickly firms can expect to see a return on investment. The panel discussion focused on three core areas critical to laser scanning investment: Time (Training and proficiency), Capital (Equipment and software) and People (Field and office staff). They addressed both hardware and software strategies, while emphasizing the importance of building a team with the right mindset. Major themes covered were Teambuilding: Who’s best for key jobs and why; Implementation: How not to upset the apple cart and Choosing the right software and equipment.

So, getting into the LiDAR and laser scanning game has never been more attractive. The transportation bill, the backlog of many long over-due infrastructure projects and the tremendous need to capture reality all foretell great potential economic opportunity for LiDAR and laser scanning but it’s not just a matter of "showing up." Without proper due diligence, training, expertise, finances and professionalism to pursue these opportunities it’s just the proverbial dog chasing the bus.

Until next time… Cheers!

Roland Mangold //

A 612Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE