In today’s age of automated systems and electronic data sources, it can be easy to forget that people are at the heart of what we do as an organisation. Keen to get back to the grass roots of what our organisation does, (collecting and maintaining of geographic data), I arranged to spend the day with one of Ordnance Survey’s nation-wide team of 250 surveyors.
I met Jeremy Thompson, a surveyor in one of the five London teams (which forms part of the South Region) at the London office, within the imposing National Audit Office building. Although three surveyors use this as a base, most surveyors work from home – Jeremy has an office set up in his garden shed!
As well as experiencing the move to homeworking, Jeremy has seen big changes during his 27-year career. He said: “I joined Ordnance Survey after completing my A levels, mainly for the reason of wanting a job outside and not being tied to an office. Geography and technical drawing were my two favourite subjects at school, so a job which seemed to combine the two seemed ideal.”
Jeremy explained that it is still quite common for people to associate Ordnance Survey with our paper maps, and not realise the level of detail which is captured by the surveyor. He said: “Since 1986, the job has evolved massively over the years; to working with digital data on a pen tablet instead of film documents and Rotring pens, and using GPS/GNSS, together with other modern-day equipment. The information we capture on the ground is used to inform a wide variety of organisations, across both the private and public sector. The range of rich data we now collect has widened greatly – it is much more complex, including a whole host of attributes, such as addresses and road routing.”
Each surveyor manages their own bank of jobs; with various criteria enabling them prioritise workloads. There are different types of surveying jobs scheduled on the system, all deadline based, and flagged up at various intervals – and the hours spent in front of a computer varies, dependent on each individual job. The surveyors can view intelligence about sites, which has been gathered from various sources, such as local authorities and commercial organisations. Information is also added from the network of surveyors who can make observations out in the field. The combination of details enables the surveyor to prepare for a job, and have a full background of the site.