Three Pieces of Technology That Have Changed the Face of Land Surveying

1 September 2015
 Categories: , Blog


At one time or another, most people have seen surveyors at work. They are the men or women who can often be seen checking their compasses, pulling chains, rolling tape measures, or using transits or theodolites along the side of the road. While these tools have produced the accurate measurements that have been used for years, they may be on their way out due to technological improvements. There are new tools on the market that change the way land surveyors do business.

Total Stations

A total station or TST, is the electronic theodolite that is not only able to measure distance, but is also able to measure angles, coordinate measurement, and record this data either internally, or externally to handheld computers. 

Robotic total stations are able to be operated by remote control from a distance. Not only eliminating the need for two people to obtain the measurement, but creating a safer work environment for the surveyor. 

Not only are total stations used by land surveyors, they may also be used by many other professions. Some of these include

  • Mining companies to determine configurations of underground mining dynamics
  • Meteorologists to track weather balloons
  • Police, insurance companies, and crime scene investigators to reenact, and take measurements at crime scenes

Satellite Positioning Systems

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, you have probably been exposed to, or benefited from some type of satellite positioning system which is better known as simply GPS. 

GPS allows land surveyors to collect measurements of vast pieces of land without ever having to travel to the location being measured. With GPS land surveyors are able to take measurements directly from space. The GPS receiver is able to do this by finding the coordinates and measurements of the location desired using the traveling time of the radio signal. GPS not only provides the exact location of land related objects, but has been put to use through other forms of technology to track people, as well as other types of things.

3D Laser Scanner/LIDAR 

LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging allows land surveyors to interpret the shape of land, buildings, or any other structures using clouds of data points collected during numerous scans. This produces fast, accurate, and cost-effective results.

After hundreds of years of very little change in the types of tools used by land surveyors, this has now all changed. With the new and improving technology on the market, land surveying tools are now growing by leaps and bounds. These three are just a sampling of what is to come.