Impacts Of Technology On The Land Surveying Industry

by Diane Barnes

Dating back to 2700BC when the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt were being constructed, land surveying is one of the oldest professions in the world. Its long history can be attributed to its significance in determining landownership and delineating boundaries. With the support of the major strides made in technology, land surveying has evolved tremendously over the past two decades. Of course, most of these technologies have brought about major impacts to the industry, some of which will be discussed below.

Improved accuracy and precision

At the evolving stages, surveying results were not very accurate. It had nothing to do with the incompetency of the surveyors, but the tools that they used to carry out their duties. For instance, the professions manually measured distances using chains with links and determined horizontal angles using compasses. However, this has changed within a short time thanks to the GIS and GPS software that enables a surveyor to capture and analyze measurements from a large surface area, and generate digital maps. To enhance accuracy, the surveyor uses this technology to pick more data points and give a clearer picture of the land. Afterwards, they generate actual images of the land under survey and share it with other stakeholders. The enhanced data acquisition and precision helps other professionals working closely with surveyors, such as architects to come up with projects that are more ideal for the land. 

Saving time and cost

Before the current technological inventions, surveyors had to travel to each point to measure the distances and angles. When mapping out roads, traffic would be blocked to allow them to carry out their task without any casualties. All this has changed as robotic total stations, which are remote controlled devices that electronically calculate distances and angles, permit the surveyor to carry out the task without visiting the site. Satellite positioning systems measure points and features from space in any location in the world. Terrestrial Mobile and Light Detection and Ranging (TMLS) collects and gathers survey data from a busy superhighway without necessitating any closure of lanes.  With all these technologies, a single survey takes less time to complete, thereby saving on labor and money.

Opening up more opportunities

Traditionally, surveyors primarily mapped out boundaries and topography. However, with new technologies, such as GPS, their role has expanded into other fields. For instance, surveyors were called upon to provide elevation information after the 2008 Cedar Rapids Floods to map out the area before the issuance of the reconstruction permits. Also, surveyors work closely with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to map out West Nile virus outbreaks across the United States every year.

To learn more about surveying and the latest technologies surveyors used, get in touch with a company like Gray Surveying & Engineering.