SPAR 2011 was last week in The Woodlands, Texas. SPAR is about all things laser scanning; Terrestrial Laser Scanning, Mobile Laser Scanning, Aerial Lidar, etc.
One block from the hotel/conference center, a two man, non-robot, survey crew was collecting topgraphic information. They worked on this at least two days. Oh the irony.
I think it would be difficult for a new, young, bright individual to sell that type of service to relics.
When two worlds collide?
Laser scanning equipment is still too expensive to be in reach for the average surveying or engineering company. But many of them do occasionally have projects where the advantages can definitely be seen. If you have researched your target market area, see plenty of such work to keep one or two firms with that equipment busy if they captured most of it, and there is an insufficient number of firms in that area utilizing the equipment, I think your plan could work up until the cost of equipment comes down to where it is a viable investment for most firms.
It is a huge investment, so make sure you do some local detailed legwork before committing. It's one thing to get feedback on a web forum, but it may be quite another when you take the pulse of your local market.
There is a long term downside to your plan, though. It is technology dependent. Once the technology becomes more readily available to a broader set of users, your niche disappears and your business offering becomes obsolete. For your plan to work, you need to either plan for the time when many of your client firms will be able and willing to invest in their own equipment, thereby taking themselves out of your client pool. You will either have to plan to invest on the next useful and efficient cutting edge tool of technology to stay ahead of and sell your services to other firms, or you will need a long term plan to transition into a different business model.
Should the engineer or land surveyor be presented with a Certification to be
signed, sealed, and dated as summarized in Rule 330-X-11-.04 and defined in
Rule 330-X-2-.01(8), he or she should carefully evaluate that Certification to
determine if any of the circumstances set forth below would apply. The engineer or
land surveyor who signs, seals, and dates Certifications which: (a) relate to matters
which are beyond the engineer’s or land surveyor’s technical competence, or (b)
involve matters which are beyond the engineer’s or land surveyor’s scope of
services actually provided, or (c) relate to matters which were not prepared under
the engineer’s or land surveyor’s responsible supervision, direction or control are
subject to disciplinary action pursuant to Rule 330-X-16. If any of these
circumstances would apply, the engineer or land surveyor shall either: (a) modify
the Certification to limit its scope to those matters which the engineer or land
surveyor can properly sign, seal, and date, or (b) decline to sign the Certification.
I have underlined a section of the code which pinpoints the main issue. If you go out on a job and gather lots of data and then try to sell it to me, I was not in responsible charge of the gathering of that data, and did not control the gathering of it. Therefore I could not sign and seal documents prepared from that data. The only way for me to be able to use that data would be if you and I BOTH sign and seal the product, each of us taking responsibility for the portion of the work done under our direction, control and supervision.
In addressing the question of liability you state: that's on whoever stamps the documents. Exactly right. Except it is a problem as stated above.
I hasten to add one other thing here. Unless and until you are licensed, then you can not be in responsible charge of gathering any data. That role is the sole domain of the licensed professional. (Whether every licensed professional properly exercises that responsibility or not is a different matter.)
Plus, unless and until you are licensed, you will discover it is not possible for you to get Professional Liability Insurance to cover your risk. I can not get Medical Mal-practice Insurance because I am not a Doctor. You will not be able to get Professional Liability Insurance for the same reason. As of right now, you are not licensed.
Again, let me state that I like how you are thinking. The problem is not that. The problem is that there are far too many so called professionals who will readily take just any old data prepared with who knows what standard of care and turn that data into what is supposed to be a professional product. The old saying about Garbage In = Garbage Out is just as true today as it was years ago. I suspect we will be finding out more and more painfully about that in the next few years.
**As I stated above this code is from Alabama. Every state code I have seen also contains similar language.
Radu has a good point. Simply read MLB and PCs comments.
... As long as there are Dad's Army crews still specializing in state of the ark technology and methods of surveying you must understand that many clients only know that type of surveying, so even forgetting those with TS and GPS, you want to jump to the other end of the technology spectrum where so few know about the technology and even less have application need....