As a technology-heavy industry, land surveyors are typically eager to learn and implement new forms of technological advancements. However, can survey technology a bad thing in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it properly?
Surveyors are concerned that the use of new applications that provide simple survey data will lead people to utilize incomplete or incorrect data to make decisions regarding their land, when they should hire a professional surveyor to deliver accurate and legally-mandated data instead.
The 10th Annual Rocky Mountain Surveyors Summit recently took a closer look at a phone application that allows you to check property, or boundary, lines. However, Lyle Bissegger, survey team manager for Galloway, says the app is not always accurate – typically three to four feet off, and up to 30-40 feet off in the mountains – and can lead users to a false sense of security about their property.
“What is the average person’s biggest investment?” Lyle asks. “Their property. Three feet can make a big difference in a property dispute.”
In addition to having questionable accuracy, boundary line-finding apps also don’t give their users enough information to make a safe judgment about their property. Surveyors are required to follow state-mandated laws in regards to boundary determination, which requires knowledge of the regulations, and the ability to interpret and implement them. Apps don’t currently have the functionality to apply legal parameters to their data, which could lead to users taking action on land without proper knowledge of the law or their usage rights.
Surveyors also perform boundary analyses, a comprehensive evaluation of all evidence. This includes investigating plats, legal descriptions and historic surveys to define boundaries. Surveyors are concerned that people using apps will rely on the simple data given to them, and not take into account the full picture and history of the property.
Even as app technology becomes more accurate – or rather, when – Lyle emphasizes that while correct data is essential, the interpretation is the most critical, and can only be provided by a professional surveyor.
“As technology becomes better and better, it refines measurements down to more accurate measurements. The danger is that it’s not analyzing their whole boundary analysis,” says Lyle.
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