Surveying: Pushing the boundaries of surveying technology
Land Surveyors are specialists in the science of positioning and measurement. When I was at university there was a saying, “A Surveyor can never do too many checks.” If you’ve checked it one way, that’s not enough, check it another. As a surveyor, you must always ask, ‘have I done sufficient checks to have total confidence to deliver the survey?’
In the last 15 years, rapidly advancing survey technologies have changed the speed, safety, efficiency and accuracy of data capture and the way we present it. Surveyors now have more options of how to capture, process and report data than ever before. Woods has always been on the leading edge of surveying technology. We find that education of our clients in respect to the technology and how it can be applied is hugely beneficial. Our large surveying team have a diverse set of skills and ensure solid surveying principles are applied to the survey technology used. The quality of deliverables has soared by having access to and applying this technology.
The history of Survey Technology at Woods
Fifteen years ago, I introduced 3D laser scanning technology to Woods, at a time when there weren’t too many specialists in New Zealand because scanning wasn’t common here. We pro-actively recruited for the specialist skills and ended up acquiring a specialist from overseas to bring the skills we wanted to New Zealand. The specialist required some training regarding the New Zealand surveying industry as we have slightly different systems than overseas, but they had advanced skills in the technology that we needed.
About five years ago, Woods bought a mobile laser scanner (a laser scanner on a truck) which is quite unique for New Zealand. We did not have the skills/background in this technology but had the passion to learn to make the technology successful in New Zealand. Now we have a mobile mapping specialist that is leading mobile mapping in New Zealand. He is one of a small number, operating engineering grade mobile mappers in New Zealand and ensures a high degree of skill, quality, and outputs are applied and delivered on mobile mapping projects. Woods’ recently purchased a new Reigl mobile mapper that is one of two engineering grade, mobile laser scanners in the country.
These are just a couple of examples of leading survey technologies at Woods amongst many others including UAV’s, Reality capture models, BIM modelling, GIS project portals, GPR and utility detection, street view imagery capture to name a few.
Keeping up-to-date with the latest Survey Technology
Our specialists have a passion for technology and the application of it. There are plenty of online research, forums, social media, supplier information, events about these technologies, so as we come across ideas, research, or publications, we introduce each other to them. Internally at Woods we have online channels to keep each other informed of interesting articles and to stimulate conversations amongst ourselves.
As a wider group, we have technology sessions that are focused on ensuring we use the correct principles and ideas behind the technology and in how we apply it. It is our specialists’ role to understand what the latest equipment is capable of, what it can do, how to use it most appropriately, teach the wider group and determine whether we can combine it with other technologies. While many of our surveyors follow more traditional methods and equipment, when the technology is put in their hands the questions and suggestions develop positive and thought-provoking conversations about how and why and can I do apply it in this different way etc. These queries often challenge standard survey principles and are advantageous to the wider group upskilling.
Survey Technology: Trends to watch
At the moment, we are quite excited about the concept where we combine laser scanning data and imagery to create city models. Using UAV imagery, imagery from our laser scanning truck and scan data from our mapping truck we can create some quite refined city models. These city models help to demonstrate how master planning can integrate with existing development. It is becoming more of an industry standard worldwide, and there’s significant interest in New Zealand.
We are also finding a trend towards project specific client facing GIS web-portals where 2D and 3D project information can be leveraged from a geospatial platform. It provides for a wider collaboration platform for clients and consultants for land development projects, building developments or even tender proposals. It provides a far more visual response to projects.
The role of Survey Technology in the future
One of the biggest changes in the last 10 years is for acceptance of 3D existing/design environment and using it efficiently it in day-to-day tasks. We are moving to a three-dimensional (3D) reality space, and building models, as designers/clients/consultants want their 3d reality model captured rather than lines, points, symbols etc.. that are open for interpretation.
Imagery is commonly being used as a source of measurement, you wouldn’t normally think of them as measuring devices, but they are becoming more and more used one. We have been modelling buildings in three-dimensions (3D) for a while, we can now use technology to create reality spaces and textured 3D models that show the real-life image of what is actually there, rather than someone’s interpretation of what’s there.
Luckily, the more you use it, the better you become, so it is all about education in the industry and creating opportunities for others to use 3D reality and building models.