Here's a disturbing news story highlighting exactly why it's important to understand the tools you are using, like GPS, and what the limitations might be. It also may be that the GPS position was fine, the relocation of that coordinate in the field was fine but there may have been a serious lack of judgment.
WSBtv. com Atlanta Channel 2, reports that in Carroll County, Georgia, a demolition company demolished the wrong house. The home, now demolished, was owned by Al Byrd who said that he could not believe his eyes. In addition to everything in the house being destroyed, Mr. Byrd went on to explain that his father had built the house himself.
"The demolition company said it had paperwork.
"I said, ‘Paperwork for what?' and he said, ‘For the house, to demolish the house.' I said, ‘I'm the owner of the house, I haven't given anybody any authority to demolish this house,'" said Byrd. Channel 2 Action News reporter Jovita Moore asked Byrd if the demolition company had an address.
"I said, ‘What address did you have?' and he said, ‘They sent me some GPS coordinates.' I said, ‘Don't you have an address?' (and) he said, ‘Yes, my GPS coordinates led me right to this address here and this house was described,'" said Byrd."
Source: WSBtv.com Atlanta Channel 2
One possibility is the demolition company that demolished the wrong house showed up at the correct location and then picked the wrong side of the street. This, certainly, would not the fault of GPS.
What gets lost in the chatter and babble of the clash with GPS, GIS and Surveying is that no amount of technology, precision, or accuracy can be a substitute for good professional judgment. Yes Sparky, it's not always about the numbers and math. This surprises many people.
The willy-nilly use of any technology or system as a substitute for sound professional judgment is always a concern. As soon as people become overly comfortable with any technology, to the point where they stop using good judgment, or plain common sense, and do not put in place any checks and balances, is when significant and tragic events like this happen.
I can poke my finger on any USGS map and give you a coordinate for that location. That doesn't mean that it's at all accurate or worth using. Because a little box of plastic and electronics can give you a coordinate does not relieve you from understanding that there is more to the story. Is this coordinate representing an accurate location? Should you be thinking about things beyond simple location-Like is this the correct house to demolish?
Three last words on this subject:
- Sound Professional Judgment.
Professional Land Surveyor Source: Homeowner Says Crews Demolished Wrong House - News Story - WSB Atlanta.
Since originally posting this this morning, I'm adding the following video: