MAPPS Summer Meeting: MAPPS Goes Geospatial

By Adena Schutzberg

The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) hosts its family friendly, weeklong summer meeting this time of year. Last year the group visited Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, this year it gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

Looking Ahead
I met with outgoing MAPPS president Kurt Allen (Photo Science) and incoming president Marvin Miller (AERO-METRIC), along with Executive Director John Palatiello and Marketing Communications Manager Nick Palatiello to get a sense of MAPPS plans for the coming year. The theme, from the business meeting, of reaching out to a broader constituency permeated the conversation.

Miller used the phrase "make the tent bigger" as he described planned outreach to a broader, not necessarily photogrammetry-focused group of potential new members. He and Allen explained that while many of the current members continue to do photogrammetry, most provide a variety of related software products and services. John Palatiello pointed out that it was Kass Green (formerly of Pacific Meridian) who during her presidency seven or eight years ago noted that geospatial companies share the same challenges as photogrammetrists. It seems the organization has felt that way for some time and now it's repositioning and redefining itself to reflect that reality. In the coming months and years MAPPS will be reaching out to geospatial organizations and companies to spread the word in a rebranding effort. The name MAPPS will stay, but the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors "definition" will likely be retired.

MAPPS and other Geospatial Organizations
I wanted to explore the ways MAPPS differs from the other professional organizations in which many geospatial professionals participate. First off, MAPPS is not an organization of individuals, but an organization of private companies. You can not be an individual member, though many small firms of just a few people or even one principal are members. MAPPS updated its membership structure four years ago so that smaller companies paid less and larger ones more. There's a discount this year for new members during the organization's 25th anniversary.

Second, the fact that the members are all businesses reflects to organization's business-related goals. It also reflects the work volunteers on the board of directors and other committees do to move that agenda forward. It's those individuals, who represent the industry, that provide the MAPPS staff its "marching orders." So, when you hear John Palatiello speak or read his articles, be assured he is giving the position of the board, as approved by the membership, and nothing else. If the board or committees do not come to agreement, MAPPS takes no stand on a topic.

Why do companies join MAPPS? A recent survey of the members found the top reason was "networking" which topped advocacy. My time at the meeting led me to believe that those statistics were correct. When attendees greeted one another, after asking about the family, the next topic was "that project" or "that contract." The members had come to this resort to do business.

I want to share one other important thing about MAPPS as an organization: it does not hold its agenda secret. Certainly there are members-only meetings, but MAPPS' position on a topic and its goals interacting with Congress are regularly and publicly documented. In fact, after MAPPS learned of several organizations' concerns regarding the lawsuit, it invited all who were interested to learn about the case. Which organizations took them up on the offer? ASPRS and NSGIC, two organizations that were not party to amicus briefs, filed in support of the government's position.

MAPPS Tidbits

  • An early morning session on the future of digital sensors was well attended and focused on themes such as smaller sensor size, lighter weight, the move from disk drives to solid state storage, and the like.
  • Microsoft used the session to highlight its role as a provider of hardware (the Vexcel UltraCam) and as a partner to members, who, using that sensor, provided 200,000 images to Virtual Earth this year. Next year the company is looking for 1, 000,000. The representative also assured members that Microsoft does not now have, nor does it plan in the future to have, a fleet of airplanes to do its data capture for Virtual Earth. He also noted that Microsoft does not want to be in the data sales business, but would like to push requests back to those who create the data, that is, MAPPS members.
  • MAPPS members were candid with me that they were concerned that some in the geospatial arena think the organization meets in "smoke-filled rooms" to address its agenda. MAPPS did invite many in the geospatial press to this event. I was the only press person in attendance, most likely due to geography.
  • Who attended the summer meeting? About 116 principals, owners, partnrs and senior professional executives of member firms attended. Below are the numbers of attendees from some organizations. I share these to highlight the diversity of attendees; I was unfamiliar with several of the companies in attendance.

    • 3001 - 4
    • BAE - 5
    • DigitalGlobe - 4
    • ESRI - 1
    • geographIT - 1
    • Harris - 1
    • Intergraph - 3
    • Intermap - 3
    • Keystone Aerial Surveys - 3
    • Leica - 5
    • Photo Science - 5
    • Richard Crouse & Associates - 6
    • Valtus - 2
    • Western Air Maps - 1

Board and Business Meetings
The board of directors' meeting, open to all members, was held early in the day on Monday. I joined members at the business meeting, later in the day, where we learned that one result of the board of directors meeting would be a members-only meeting later in the week to discuss the recent outcome of MAPPS vs. US.

The rest of the business meeting was run very formally by outgoing president Allen, with the MAPPS board seated on stage. There were about 50 attendees who listened politely and approved the two agenda items. There was approval of the slate of new board members (six seats were vacant), and approval of a change to the by-laws. That change is interesting to consider: whereas the by-laws formerly referred to member companies as photogrammetric firms, they will now be referred to as geospatial firms. Allen explained that the change reflected changes in the marketplace and changes within MAPPS.

The business meeting also served to highlight MAPPS accomplishments in the past year: MAPPS involvement with the Geospatial Line of Business, the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (it noted its slate of nominees in a recent press release), discussions with the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and Federal Aviation Administration) regarding airspace issues, LANDSAT continuity, the Department of Labor's definitions of geospatial (geospatial does not fall under Information Technology), the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, the first state chapter launched in Pennsylvania, and many opportunities to speak before Congress.

In fact, the business meeting opened with a video of Congressman Ruben Hinojosa of Texas noting his reliance on MAPPS input on topics related to mapping such as FEMA's flood maps. Also of interest to readers will be some information from the MAPPS budget. In 2006, I learned when the minutes from last year's meeting were read, about $644,000 came in and $784,000 went out for a deficit of some $140,000. The deficit was attributed to two things: dropping the registration price for the federal conference and legal fees. That left assets of about $350,000. The treasurer's report this year noted income of $703,000, expenses of $777,000 and a deficit of about $73,000. The deficit was tagged as paying for legal fees. Assets now run about $228,000.

Running through the brief meeting was a focus on MAPPS' drive to support professionalism, quality, new technology, free enterprise, fair competition, a regulatory environment that will grow the industry and serve the citizenry, and ethical behavior. MAPPS, Allen affirmed, is the "one and only" organization with a full time effort to achieve those goals for the industry.

Published Friday, July 20th, 2007

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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