Interview with Elaine Ball, Founder and CEO at Get Kids into Survey: Inspiring Future Geospatial Experts

Get Kids into Survey is a fun, action-packed global recruitment campaign to help save the future of surveying – a relatively unknown area, especially among children.

We aim to introduce and educate the younger generation on surveying and encourage them to consider it as a possible career path, creating a new generation of surveyors responsible for protecting the world. Many aren’t aware but surveying actually plays a huge part in this – from detecting bombs, studying planets, finding diamonds, monitoring wildlife, building bridges to measuring earthquakes and volcanoes, carrying out CSI forensics, to name but a few!

As part of the campaign, we’ve launched The GeoSquad Comic; a 40-page digital download, a five-chapter book, complete with activity sheets, designed to appeal to children aged 8-12 in a fun and action-packed way.

It’s a fantastic illustrated introduction to the world of survey, created in collaboration with primary school teacher and children’s book author, Mat Sullivan.

The comic strips are based on a group of four friends; Maddison, Setsuko, Kwame and Miles as well as the ‘The Last Surveyor’ – loosely based on my father, Steve (a surveyor). Together, the characters visit a career fair and enter a virtual reality world where they are told the story of what a world without surveyors would be like and the devastation that would occur. It goes on to show surveyors as the heroes of the future putting the world back together, which could be a very real possibility if the recruitment problem is not addressed now.

It has everything a good kids story could need; time travel, robots, virtual reality, and of course, relatable and inspiring characters.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I’ve grown up in the surveying world. My father, Steve Ball, is a hydrographer and mine surveyor so I always knew how important the work was and after I completed my business degree, joining his company was a natural fit.

By the age of 27, I had worked my way up the ranks to become MD at my father’s global company, MDL, but with each year, it became more and more clear to me just how heavily dominated with men of a certain generation the industry is. In fact the average age of a surveying professional is 55 – not an easy sector for a young woman to navigate through! In 2013, when MDL was bought, I launched my own Geospatial Marketing company Elaine Ball Limited, and it was through my work with surveyors that Get Kids into Survey was born.

The Get Kids into Survey project came about in 2017 when I created a poster for the AGM of The Surveyors Association, UK. Designed to teach the surveyors children what their parents did for a living, the poster was an immediate hit, and the requests for more started flooding in. We created more posters, added educational resources, and developed a comic strip – the rest is history!


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

The pandemic hasn’t stopped our campaign in the slightest. In fact, it’s only made us more determined to educate the next generation on how surveying helps protect the Earth and why that’s vital – particularly after seeing first hand, over the last 14 months, how the health of the planet is so delicate.

As small children, we’re taught that the Earth will live for billions and billions of years but what we’re often not taught is that for that to happen, we need to play our part. We must do everything we can to protect it and the pandemic has made the issue even more urgent for us.

What can we hope to see from Get Kids into Survey in the future?

Lots more education on surveying for the next generation! We really have made it our mission to ensure the industry doesn’t die out so moving forward, we’ll be writing and releasing more comic books and other resources to continue educating young people on the wonderful world of survey.

Aside from the comic, we also have an online hub of free resources with lesson plans, quizzes and colouring sheets, our amazing posters, and an Education Fund to support ambassadors and school visits. We’re really investing in this now so that we can spread the word for years to come in any way we can; be it through the school curriculum, events or school visits.

Our Get Kids into Survey ambassadors are located worldwide, all of whom are working towards the same goal. So you could say that the future spells world domination, only to protect the world.