New Technology for a New Century
SURVEYORS AND STANDARDS - THE INTERRELATIONSHIP
Iain GREENWAY, United Kingdom
Key words: standards, partnership, surveying profession, FIG.
In early 1998, the then FIG Bureau set up a Task Force on Standardisation. This is a far from fashionable subject. It is, however, one which was becoming increasingly relevant to the surveying profession and one, indeed, which threatened to overwhelm surveyors if they did not make any ameliorating input. The Task Force was FIG's initial response, with a remit to understand the issue of surveyors and standardisation more clearly, and to advise the Federation how most effectively to become involved in and influence the complex processes.
It terms of the importance and benefits of standardisation, recent research undertaken by the Technical University of Dresden and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovations has found that:
The FIG Task Force on Standardisation has spent much of the first three years of its existence understanding how the standardisation process works. This has included active involvement in relevant ISO Technical Committees, attending meetings, commenting on work in progress, and reporting on FIG activity. Bodies such as FIG are recognised as providing a useful input to the standardisation process. The reasons for their limited impact to date include a limited understanding of the processes of standardisation bodies and how to influence them to best effect; a fragmentation of the surveying communities voice, with limited coordination between FIG, ISPRS and the other bodies; and not using even the full range of communications possible through the various internal FIG groups such as Task Forces, Commissions and Bureau. There has, perhaps, also been a tendency to give up in the face of perceived lack of understanding of FIG's point of view by the ISO, without fully appreciating the situation as ISO (and the individuals involved) see it.
In light of the learning to date, and recognising that FIG's funds are limited in the face of the vast range of standardisation activity in hand at any time, the Task Force has created a draft FIG policy for this area.
At this stage, it is fair to say that FIG's increased focus on standardisation has created a higher profile for FIG within this field, and for standardisation within FIG. Much greater coordination of activity, within and beyond FIG, is however needed if the efforts to date are to build into meaningful, concrete progress.
The key areas in which FIG needs to continue to work are:
In essence, FIG needs to see itself, and the activity of all of its constituent parts, as part of a larger picture which includes key bodies such as the UN and its agencies, standardisation bodies and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This has been a key theme of recent FIG Bureaux, and progress is now being delivered on a number of these fronts. As a result, the realisation is growing that surveyors need standards, and standards bodies need FIG - but the realisation is a fragile plant which needs continuing nurturing and attention.
11 February 2001
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