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Court scrutinizes definition of surveying services

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Does Vizaline’s computer program pose a threat to professional surveying services? Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

The Mississippi Board of Professional Engineers and Surveyors (Board) sued Vizaline in September 2017, alleging that Vizaline is offering services that require a surveyors license. Vizaline’s computer program takes the metes and bounds description of property and draws the polygon on a map for banks that need accurate property descriptions. The Board is alleging that Vizaline does not have a proper license to offer these services and is asking the court to force the company to pay back the money it has earned and to shut it down.

In July 2018, Vizaline counter-sued the members of the board, saying that it is not providing surveying services and the licensing law does not apply. Vizaline claims that because their services are not surveying, the Board’s actions amount to a violation of their First Amendment rights.

The last three decades have brought about technological developments that allow lay people to provide services that were previously reserved for licensed professionals. The law is playing catch-up to these developments, and the resolution of this case may re-align the type of surveying services that are within the authority of state governments to protect public health, safety, and welfare.

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