February 1, 2007

Lawsuit: all mapping and GIS should be licensed

Filed under: cartography, GIS — ubikcan @ 4:55 pm

Read this if you do GIS or mapping and do not hold a license to do so: you could soon be breaking the law.

According to the Association of American Geographers (AAG) a lawsuit pending in a Virginia court threatens to make all GIS and mapping activities require that the operator hold a license:

The case of MAPPS v. United States, currently pending in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, could have drastic consequences for the entire mapping community, including the GIS industry. Simply put, an adverse outcome could lead to the exclusion of everyone but licensed engineers and surveyors from federal government contracts for “mapping” services of every sort and description – not just those mapping services traditionally performed by surveyors.

This document has more. As I am not a lawyer I don’t know if this is alarmist or real. We need to check this out. But if what the AAG says is true, this could have major impacts on GIS and mapping:

If this claim prevails, it could affect not only GIS but also other mapping activities, potentially including GIS field data collection, internet mapping activities, geospatial data analysis, remote sensing, cartographic services, and map creation of almost any type. This is because the Brooks Act effectively restricts the award of all federal contracts for “architectural and engineering” services to firms licensed to practice either architecture or engineering. In short, the lawsuit threatens to hijack the GIS and related industries by excluding anyone and everyone other than licensed engineers or surveyors from receiving any type of federal mapping contract.

It seems to me that the mentality of “certification” is what has led us down this road and if this happens then GISP and the AAG will be on weak ground to oppose it, since they promoted the idea of licensed/certified GIS people in the first place.

(Added: All Points Blog provided their take here on January 19th).


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