News & Views
Sep. 3, 2014

Ask Vic: Written agreements
Periodically, NSPS News & Views publishes the Ask Vic column, which is provided to NSPS by a Risk Management Attorney at the Victor O. Schinnerer & Company, Inc. Below is the August 2014 question.

Question: I have often used whatever contract my client has presented to me, signing the agreements without giving it much thought. I have also completed projects without using a written agreement. Recently a client asked for insurance certificates with much higher insurance limits than I had agreed to when signing the contract. Although we resolved the matter amicably, should I be paying more attention to client-generated agreements?

Read more for AnswerMore

September is National Preparedness Month
What's important to you? Many aspects of life factor into hazard preparedness, from economic decisions to availability of food and water, family safety and health, national security and even vacation plans. Start with science. The U.S. Geological Survey delivers science to help prepare for natural hazards and inform decisions that align with these and other values. September is National Preparedness Month, a good time to highlight the natural hazard risks we face.More

NSPS Radio Hour — Sept. 8, 11 a.m. EDT
Join host Curt Sumner, American Surveyor Publisher Allen Cheves, and former NM NSPS Director Glen Thurow for a discussion of the new CST Training website- With each passing year more and more organizations are requiring CST certification as a condition of employment or advancement. Technical colleges are beginning to use the CST exam for exit competency requirements. Individual surveying technicians are realizing the importance of certification for career advancement. The trajectory of the program is on the rise. In order to help increase this upward trend and help prospective CST candidates prepare for the CST examinations, a training website is being developed by Spatial Media, LLC in conjunction with the NSPS CST Board of Directors. The September 8th show will be devoted to a discussion of this important initiative.

If you are unable to listen to the show when it is being broadcast, listen to the archive of the show at Archives for each show are typically available for listening within a few days after the show airs.

During the show, listen for the "key question" and be the first to email the correct answer to to win a $50 gift certificate from our sponsor, Parker Davis Quik Stakes. No purchase is required to receive the gift certificate. Winners limited to once every three months. More

'Marked,' a novel by surveyor Karen Zollman
Karen Zollman has been surveying for 40 years, and has recently completed a novel based on her experiences. She says, "This book provided a great opportunity to revisit some of the areas I surveyed and people I worked with over the years in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington." Karen will join host Curt Sumner on the NSPS Radio Hour on September 22 to talk about the book. In the meantime, "Marked" is available through an Amazon download Here. More

Global Contractors library looking for surveyors
Global Contractors President/CEO Tom Wright recently contacted NSPS regarding the need for surveyors to assist with its Sustainable Humanitarian and Economic Development projects in the US and internationally. Wright plans to meet with NSPS Executive Director Curt Sumner to discuss the projects and provide further information about why surveyors are critical to their success. Learn more about the organization and its work from the website,

Highway, aviation bills are top Congressional priorities for infrastructure
Infrastructure bills to authorize and fund highway and aviation projects are a top priority for Congress. These programs, which require considerable surveying and mapping services, are set to expire within the coming year, and advocates are urging Congress to pass reauthorization bills for both.More

Brits to inventory government land for 'right to contest'
The British government has launched a website that maps all its land and buildings and invites the public to suggest better uses for them under a new "right to contest." It has promised to release for sale any property whose current use it cannot justify. NSPS supports H.R. 916, the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, to create a current, accurate inventory of all land and buildings owned by the U.S. government.More

NSPS members urged to contact senators on FLAIR and Digital Coast legislation
Co-sponsors are being sought for two important NSPS-supported bills in Congress. Surveyors are asked to contact their U.S. Senators to cosponsor the Digital Coast Act and the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act.

The soon to be introduced "Digital Coast Act" will be offered by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). She plans to introduce the Senate companion to H.R. 1382, a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House that is sponsored by Representatives "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Don Young (R-AK). This bill would formally authorize the highly popular "Digital Coast" project in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that provides geospatial data to our coastal communities. Current cosponsors include Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Senator Baldwin is seeking to include a Republican cosponsor on the bill. Surveyors and state societies from coastal states (including the Great Lakes) with a Republican Senator are urged to contact their respective Senators and urge them to join Sen. Baldwin in cosponsoring this important bill.

NSPS members and state surveying societies should contact their Senators and urge them to cosponsor the soon-to-be-introduced "Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act of 2014." Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) plan to introduce the Senate companion to H.R. 916, a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House by sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rob Bishop (R-UT), that has already been approved by a House committee. This bill would formally authorize a comprehensive, multi-purpose inventory of Federal land by the Department of the, Interior which will provide surveying and mapping data for our national assets and liabilities on a parcel-by-parcel basis. Senators Hatch and Lee have requested help from NSPS in identifying Democrat Senators as cosponsors.

For further information, please contact NSPS lobbyist John "JB" Byrd at or 703-787-6665. More

California tremor prompts call for earthquake early warning system
The recent earthquake in Northern California has highlighted the need for an earthquake early warning system, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). An appropriations bill pending in the Senate increases the earthquake hazards program by $5 million for development of a public earthquake early warning pilot program, which will support work in both the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas. While the legislation does not include provisions integrating surveying, mapping and geospatial data, there are papers and articles that call for such data in these systems.More

A unique opportunity for NSPS members to explore a growth market
A program of speakers and presentations that has never before been organized in one place at one time in the surveying, geospatial and engineering market awaits NSPS members at the Geospatial and Engineering International Conference, to be held September 25-26, 2014 at the Westin Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. This is a very cost-effective and efficient way for NSPS members to learn about exporting surveying, geospatial or engineering - related services, data, products and technology. The conference is focused on where the work is, how to compete for it, what's available to help U.S. firms, and what is needed to go or grow globally.

Learn more about this opportunity More

DoT plan for GPS adjacent band compatibility study to get airing
Inside GNSS
A Department of Transportation (DoT) plan that would establish limits on the power of transmissions from bands adjacent to GPS and other GNSS services will get its first hearing at a Sept. 18 meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A public workshop will examine the proposed methodology in the "GPS Adjacent Band Compatibility (ABC) Assessment Plan." More

Is there any progress on location privacy protection?
Sensors & Systems
There has long been a call for some safeguards for location privacy, not only to put some checks on the surveillant state, but also to curb some of the bold uses that marketers are making with our data. There are many examples of corporate and government abuses of our location privacy, and they only seem to be mounting. More

How big data reveals the secret life of cities
Suppose data scientists could track how people move through cities and towns as easily as e-commerce sites track them online? Don't answer that. It's already happening — thanks, at least in part, to a startup called StreetLight Data. StreetLight founder and CEO Laura Schewel was working on a doctorate in energy engineering at UC Berkeley when she had the "ah-ha" idea of using data from cell towers, traffic-data aggregators and GPS satellites to track people's movement patterns. More

FAA dithering forces Google, other drone innovators to take jobs and technology abroad
Google's announcement that they've been testing delivery drones caught the tech world by surprise. What wasn't surprising to experts familiar with the industry is that Google conducted all of their aerial tests outside the United States. That's because the FAA has utterly failed to create procedures for companies like Google to test their innovative new technology. More