Mapping Tennessee
GIS and Surveying Discussion
Posted on July 7th, 2014

Earlier this spring, the Tennessee Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors formed a committee to: “Explore is the possible licensing of photogrammetrists and GIS individuals as land surveyors”. I serve as the GISP member of that committee along with two Professional Land Surveyors (PLS), a professional photogrammetrist and a university representative. The primary charge is to determine if including GIS and Photogrammetry professionals in the definition of surveying would better protect the public while providing better means to regulate practice and provide additional opportunities for beginning surveyors. The TNBOE referred to adjacent states laws and rules in the charge and my belief is that they intended for us to consider recent changes in North Carolina that require private GIS consultants to be licensed surveyors in order to collect data that has not traditionally been under the auspices of the surveyor.
The committee has been asked to render a recommendation to the BOE at their next meeting which will occur at the end of July. URISA has been involved in the discussion of what defines the difference between GIS and Surveying and was instrumental in helping shape the revised model law and rules published by the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES). URISA is prepared to submit a formal statement to the TNBOE establishing their position opposing the expansion of the definition of Surveying to include GIS practices. I have also requested a similar statement from the boards of directors for TNGIC and the Cumberland Chapter of URISA for presentation to the TNBOE.
There are several steps that individual GIS professionals can take in response to this challenge. First, if you are not yet certified, please get certified. As the GISP certification grows and is strengthened, it provides us with a documented standing as a profession. The more of us that are certified in Tennessee, the stronger our voice. Second, monitor the discussion. I will post updates to both the TNGIC and Cumberland URISA websites. You can also access the TNBOE agenda and minutes at Third, stand ready to write you state representative should this still be introduced in the legislature next year. We cannot lobby, but we can certainly advocate. This will require a grass roots effort. Finally, engage the surveying community in constructive discussion. If you know a surveyor, talk to them. Help them understand GIS and in turn, learn about surveying.  This best solution is a constructive dialogue and cooperative engagement!
Watch for more updates!

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