GIS vs. Surveyors Court Case to Start on GIS Day

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Usually, GIS Day marks a day of celebration.  Occurring each year on the Wednesday of Geography Awareness Week, thousands of GIS professionals and students around the United States (and other countries) will attend events designed to showcase the geospatial field on November 18, 2015.

Instead of celebrating GIS on November 18th, one company will be defending its GIS and GPS services as a case against them will start oral arguments before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Docket Number 2235 CD 2014, Journal Number 48-11-2015).  The case pits Southeastern Reprographics against the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, et al.  Now known as the Davey Resource Group, Southeastern Reprographics was fined $2,000 on November 14, 2014 by the state for “practicing and offering to practice land surveying while not being properly licensed, and for representing itself without employing a licensed directing head or responsible charge credentialed as professional land surveyor.

An email was sent by the Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors in which it urged its members to attend the hearing in the belief that a “good showing of land surveyors will demonstrate to the court the importance of this case and our support for the original findings of the Registration Board.”  

The case overview from the email:

In September 2007, the Registration Board received a complaint regarding Southeastern Reprographics use of GPS and GIS to locate and map the assets of an electrical utility.  Approximately 100,000 points were located to sub-meter accuracy on surface and underground electrical assets.  On November 14th, 2014 the Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists levied a civil penalty and cease and desist order against Southeastern Reprographics, Inc., now known as Davey Resource Group, for practicing and offering to practice engineering land surveys.  Davey Resources Group appealed the Registration Board s decision to the Commonwealth Court and successfully applied for a stay of the cease and desist order so they can continue to operate in Pennsylvania.  PSLS filed an Amicus Curiae Brief with the Commonwealth Court in affirmance of the Registration Board s decision which was subsequently suppressed by the court for technical reasons.

On May 4th, 2015 oral arguments were presented to a panel of three judges.  In mid-September 2015, the Commonwealth Court requested a re-hearing of oral arguments before the Court En Banc and requested additional copies of the PSLS Amicus Curiae Brief as well as other documentation from the parties involved.  A request by the court for new oral arguments is unusual and we do not know what to make of that request or the request for additional copies of our Amicus Curiae Brief which was suppressed.  We believe the court may be divided on the issue and we need to do all we can to demonstrate our support of the Registration Boards decision.  Please attend oral arguments to demonstrate your support for the Registration Board decision and our profession.

(H/T Joseph Elfelt)

Is the use of GPS solely the domain of licensed surveyors in Pennsylvania?

Is the use of GPS to collect spatial data solely the domain of licensed surveyors in Pennsylvania?

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