What Should You Look for in a Utility Inspection Provider?

Finding a reliable utility inspection provider is important both in terms of cost and safety. Whether a company is running older systems, brand new systems, or middle-of-the-line systems, there are unique challenges that will be faced. A utility inspection provider is the first line of defense against more significant and damaging issues. 

But how do you find a utility inspection provider that will work well for you? 

Here are a few important questions to ask.

What equipment do they have experience in?

As equipment ages, skills gaps can be introduced. There may not be technicians who are familiar with equipment from the 70s, 90s, or even 00s. But it also isn’t always the oldest equipment in operation that gives a company the most problems. Many older technologies are reliable, and newer technologies can require additional training.

With all that in mind, companies need to be conscientious about the technology they have and whether their utility inspection provider is well-versed in it. Ideally, the provider should have technicians who are specialists in every type of technology the power company is using. 

Do they have advanced software or hardware technology?

The role of a utility inspection provider is changing; it’s becoming far more robust. With new, advanced solutions such as drones and machine learning, inspection providers can learn much more about a system, and identify potential issues with greater levels of reliability. But not all inspection providers have changed over to new technology. Ask about the provider’s systems, how they deliver their inspections, and what they’re doing to modernize their solutions. 

Are there any testimonials or reviews available?

Customer testimonials and third-party reviews are a great resource. While they can’t always tell you the detailed benefits of working with an inspection provider, what it will do is tell you any major problems that many people have experienced. You can also take a look at the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any formal complaints lodged. Ask the provider about any negative reviews you see. They may be able to explain it, or even describe changes that they’ve made since.

What are the costs involved in the inspections?

One of the advantages of better technology is that an inspection provider can pass savings along to the customer. With better technology, inspections can be done safer and faster. If you’re vetting several inspection providers, you’ll want to know which have the best rates. But don’t choose based on rates alone. While one provider might have slightly higher rates than others, they may also have greater levels of accuracy.

Are they specialized in any particular energy industry?

Does the company deal with city electrical inspection? Or private solar systems? UAV for energy products will vary, depending on whether the company manages renewable energy sources or traditional energy sources. Renewable energy sources are continuing to emerge into the mainstream and are becoming an important part of the global energy future. Traditional energy sources are still necessary and vital, and they require different types of inspections. It’s best to deal with inspection providers who have clients with the same industry you’re in.

When can they get involved?

There are different levels to a utility company, from first development to later maintenance. Whether the company is better at the initial land surveying and project planning or focuses primarily on maintenance and repairs will matter. Your company may want to have a valuable partner that can work with you from the beginning to the end… or you may just need a company that can help you with your general maintenance.

It’s worth it to take a little more time to explore your options when trying to find a utility inspection provider. After all, the inspection provider is going to be guarding your most important assets. If you want to learn more about how inspections can help your organization, and how best-in-class technologies matter, contact the experts at Landpoint.

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Why Drones are Essential for Power Line Inspection

26 power line workers are electrocuted every year. It’s a dangerous job. Strangulation, falling, and other hazards are all risks that must be mitigated and guarded against. But all this can be virtually erased with the use of safe, cost-effective, and accurate drone powerline inspections. Drones can be used for everything from solar power inspections to construction site safety surveys, and they’re also revolutionizing the industry of power line inspection. For areas where physical technicians may need to put their safety on the line, drones are essential.

How Drone Powerline Inspection Produces Faster, More Efficient Results

Drones are able to map out an area quickly, zipping through power lines while still avoiding towers and other potential hazards. Since drones are agile, small, and lightweight, they can cover a lot of territory that a traditional aerial vehicle could not. And, because they aren’t manned, they don’t represent any human danger. 

Through the 3D mapping system, drones can determine the most efficient routes through even larger installations. They can fly a complete circuit between areas, and complete complex data collection, including both photography and laser scanning. Once the data has been recorded, it can be viewed by an expert operator, who can identify any potential issues. Drones can even be fitted with sensors so they can detect abnormalities, such as unusual heat signals.

Better and More Frequent Power Line Inspections

When power line inspections require a significant amount of work hours (and potential danger to technicians), they aren’t done as frequently. It’s mildly dangerous to just climb a tower, and no one wants to do that if it isn’t necessary. But with drones, power line inspections can be conducted more frequently, leading to more consistent results and reduced power outages.

Data collected from drones can also be fed into machine learning systems to begin anticipating potential issues, and to generate more accurate maintenance schedules. Together with IoT devices, sensors, and machine learning technology, power-line solutions can become more effective overall.

While drone technology has existed for some time, the new, intelligent drone systems, and better software and hardware, are making drones more effective at more complex tasks. As drone technology continues to advance, it’s likely that a great deal of inspection, scanning, and surveying processes will become off-loaded to them.

Improved Safety and Quality-of-Life for Technicians

With drones, the role of the technician switches from potentially putting themselves in precarious, dangerous positions, and into what they do best: diagnostics and analysis. Better safety leads to a happier and more conscientious workforce, in addition to overall reduced costs and better quality of work. 

No company wants to be responsible for disasters and incidents, but the truth is that any line inspection, whether it’s power lines or telephone lines, has the potential to be dangerous, even with proper safety precautions. Up until fairly recently, manual line inspections were also a necessity. Drone technology has advanced to the point where it can now safely replace many high-risk inspection tasks.

Power line inspections no longer need to be dangerous or time-consuming, and that’s great news for the power industry. From companies that are specializing in wind power, to companies that are managing large scale power distribution networks, drones can be used to ensure that maintenance and upkeep is followed, and that potentially dangerous issues are noted before they become a problem. 

Drones for the Power Industry

But drones aren’t just valuable for inspections. They can also be used during the development of power lines, to survey locations and scan them, and to create 3D models and simulations of the future installations. They can be used throughout the process of developing and setting in power lines to ensure that the development is going smoothly. And they can be used for other elements of the power system, such as inspecting power equipment and power facilities.

As technicians become more accustomed to working from photographs, aerial views, and simulations, they will also become more effective at quickly diagnosing issues without having to introduce high-risk human intervention. The energy market is being transformed with drone technology, leading to lower costs, reduced risk, and better uptime. For more information about how drones can help the power industry, contact the experts at LandPoint.

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How to Find Expert Natural Gas Inspection Companies

The world of pipeline surveying and inspection is getting a boost through new, advanced surveying technologies — designed to improve upon the pre-planning, planning, and maintenance stages of oil field projects. Today, new survey technologies can get your pipeline project off the ground faster, resulting in reduced delays and fewer potential reworks. Here’s what you need to know about new pipeline surveying technology and how to find expert natural gas inspection companies.

The Benefits of Natural Gas Inspection and Surveying

Drone services can be used for complete oil and gas pipeline inspections, beginning with the original pipeline surveying. For natural gas facilities, surveying can be completed to determine whether there may be obstructions on the planned path, to simulate impact to the environment, and to identify any other issues that might arise when the project is underway. Proper surveying saves an organization a significant amount of money, by improving the accuracy of the plans.

In addition to preliminary surveying, natural gas inspection companies are able to ensure that pipelines and natural gas facilities are well-maintained and prepared as needed. Regular natural gas safety inspection can catch issues as they arise, rather than when they become problematic. New IoT devices and sensors can be used to capture even more complicated information around natural gas installations, identifying potential leaks, unusual levels of heat, and other irregularities.

When it comes to natural gas, safety and environmental issues are a major priority. Better, more frequent, and more timely inspections are an excellent way for a company to improve the safety of their operations from the very beginning of the project. But in addition to safety, natural gas inspection can also make a natural gas site more predictable, reliable, and profitable — companies will find that as their inspections increase, their productivity will, too. Safer, well-maintained sites lead to better production time.

Finding the Right Natural Gas Inspection Companies

The core benefits of natural gas inspection aside, how can a company find the right inspection companies? Many natural gas inspection companies only specialize in residential or development services, rather than serving the natural gas industry. Here are some important things to consider.

  • Technology. Are inspections being completed manually or through the use of advanced technology such as UAVs? UAVs are faster, safer, and more efficient when it comes to pipeline inspection. UAVs are able to fly close to infrastructure, identify problems with extreme accuracy, and do not put any human operators at risk. In addition to the physical technology, ask about the software and data. How is data saved, stored, and analyzed? How will it be accessed?
  • Experience. Does the UAV company frequently serve the natural gas industry, or are they more focused on other types of surveying and inspection? While there are many UAV companies that have the capacity to perform a pipeline or natural gas inspection, not all of them specialize. Specialists are more likely to be experts and are more likely to deliver accurate and meaningful information. 
  • Reputation. Have they been in the industry long? Do they have clients who can vouch for them? As drone technology advances and its benefits are seen, there are many new UAV companies who may not have enough experience with natural gas inspection. Look for companies that have been using UAVs and related surveying technology for a long time, and understand the intricacies of these technologies inside and out.

It’s important to spend the time to find the right inspection company, as these inspection companies will be responsible for keeping your site safe and operational. The right natural gas inspection companies will be able to operate as a partner, helping you through the initial stages of your project and continued maintenance, repairs, and expansion. For more information about the benefits of oil and gas drone technology, contact the experts at Landpoint.

Types of Land Survey Services: Which Do You Need?

Land surveying covers a wide variety of products and services, depending on the type of surveying that’s needed for a project. Not only does surveying occur during different stages of a project and for a variety of industries, but it’s also completed with the use of different methods and technologies. Here is a complete overview of the different types of land surveying services, including which types of land surveying are most likely to be of use for you.

Land Surveying Basics: How is Surveying Performed?

Land surveying can be completed through manned aerial missions, unmanned aerial vehicles, and manned ground travel. Surveying is one of the oldest professions in existence. Before anything can be built, the land must be surveyed and perimeters must be marked. The surrounding area must be cleared, any major issues have to be identified, and often environmental studies need to be completed.

Originally, ground travel was the most common method of land survey, and it’s still used when smaller areas are being surveyed. Surveyors use a variety of tools to map out the topography of an area by hand. Usually, this type of land surveying is used to do things like draw out simple boundary lines within suburban and urban areas. It takes time and poses some risk to the surveyors themselves.

Once airplanes and helicopters became a viable method of surveying, large surveys became far more feasible. But there are still some problems with these types of manned aerial missions: They’re expensive and can be dangerous. Even with the rigorous modern safety standards of airplanes and helicopters, there is always some level of risk when it comes to sending a crew into the air.

Today, surveying is often best performed through unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Commonly known as drones, UAVs make it possible to scan terrain quickly without any surveyors ever having to be in the air. But planes, drones, and helicopters are only the methods of collecting the information; surveys also differ in how the information is collected, and how the information is used. Surveying usually uses two different types of technology to collect data: photogrammetric imaging and LiDAR imaging. Photogrammetric imaging captures information through a sequence of photos. LiDAR imaging captures information using highly precise laser scanning, for high precision land surveying.

Types of Land Surveying Services: When Do You Need a Survey?

Boundary surveys, construction staking, easement surveys, land partitions, well staking, topographic mapping, and more: There are countless types of surveying that may be needed for a project. Surveys can be completed pre-design, during the design, to manage the project, and even after the project — for the purposes of maintenance and repairs. When you need a land survey depends on how your project will use the survey, and the surveyor you hire.

Pre-design surveys are often used to simulate how a project will interact with the environment, how it will look and feel, and how much it will cost. During construction, surveys can improve the safety of the work site, and ensure that everything is progressing as it should. Post construction, surveys can be used to identify any potential problems, and to see whether maintenance or repair issues have arisen. 

The Industries of Land Surveying: How Do Different Industries Use their Surveys?

Land surveying is used throughout virtually every industry. Pipeline companies use surveying to identify the ideal routes for their pipelines in the pre-planning stages, as well as identify any potential issues with the surrounding environment. Solar companies use surveys to determine the most efficient placement of their solar panels, and to maintain their solar panels through inspections later. Construction companies often use land surveying as a way of simulating their projects before they even begin, and they can capture information for the future — such as for modifications and expansions.

Altogether, since land surveying is such a broad process, it can be difficult to know exactly what type of land survey service is needed. But that’s why there are land surveying companies. Land surveying companies can go over the details of your project and your needs to determine the ideal land surveying process for you. Contact Landpoint today to start with your consultation.

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What Sets a Commercial UAV Apart from a Consumer Model?

Ten years ago, UAVs were almost strictly within the purview of commercial applications. Today, many households have UAVs at home. UAVs are everything from toys for children to highly advanced, professional machines. But where is the line drawn? What are the differences between a commercial UAV and a consumer model? How can you tell the difference?

Here’s everything you need to know about what distinguishes commercial UAVs from consumer models.

The Commercial UAV

Today, commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are being used in everything from construction to the energy industry. UAVs are used for surveying, maintenance, and safety. But the UAV that is used for commercial use is a far cry from those that are in the standard home. An aerial mapping UAV will be much more technologically advanced than an at-home toy or hobbyist quadcopter, and much more expensive. 

Still, there’s no strict delineation between commercial UAVs and consumer UAVs for a very simple reason: UAVs have become more and more advanced. Just as there is a sliding spectrum of cameras, from a simple phone camera to a professional grade model, there’s also a sliding spectrum between commercial and consumer UAVs. Between the two are “prosumer” (professional consumer) UAVs that are very similar to commercial models, but still are not generally used for commercial use. Consumer-grade UAVs in use today may very well have been commercial-grade UAVs 10 years ago.

Here are the major differences between today’s commercial and consumer UAVs:

  • Cost. Let’s begin with the most obvious difference. A commercial UAV is very expensive, with the cheapest being a few thousand dollars. More commonly, a commercial UAV is going to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, a prosumer UAV is likely to cost about a thousand dollars, while a recreational, consumer UAV may only cost a few hundred. Recreational UAVs are getting cheaper every day, but commercial UAVs are getting more technologically advanced, and thus more expensive.
  • Support. A commercial UAV is more likely to come with in-depth support. While many consumer or prosumer UAVs will still have customer support available, the customer support will be more along the lines of offering a refund if the UAV is defective. Meanwhile, commercial UAVs have support services that can help them with both technical and operational issues.
  • Durability. UAVs crash all the time. It’s just a fact. UAVs are extremely stable in most conditions, but during heavy winds, they simply may not be heavy enough to maneuver themselves. But when commercial models crash, they’re usually fine. Prosumer models are going to be very durable and will be able to take a lot of hard hits. Cheaper, consumer models could break on the first crash.
  • Sensor control and integration. Commercial UAVs allow for sensor control on a granular level and integration with precision solutions. Some UAVs are used for surveying, and others may be used for things like film production. Either way, they need to have the right level of sensor control. They have to be able to capture their exact location and maintain consistency.
  • Customization. Commercial UAVs can be used for many purposes, and consequently, must be built so that they can be altered and customized. Consumer UAVs are usually built for a single purpose. They may be built to carry a GoPro, or to carry small packages. Commercial UAVs are more commonly used for things such as surveying, but an aerial mapping UAV is likely to be a commercial UAV tailored for that purpose.

There are also some practical differences. Using a UAV for commercial flight requires different licenses and permits than using one for recreation. Consumer-grade UAVs are going to be billed as being good for consumer needs, whereas commercial UAVs are going to be billed for specific industrial applications. Consumer UAVs cannot be used for most of the things for which commercial UAVs can be used.

What Are the Similarities?

Of course, there are still similarities in commercial and consumer UAVs. In fact, at their core, they’re almost identical. Commercial UAVs have specifically been improved upon for commercial use. That means they’re better in virtually every way. They have longer battery life, they’re larger, they have more features, and they’re easier to control.

Both the consumer and commercial UAV markets are steadily growing. On the recreational side, people are enthusiastic about the opportunity to operate their own UAVs. On the commercial side, the applications for industrial UAVs are expanding by the day. For more information about the difference between consumer and commercial UAVs, contact the experts at Landpoint.

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How Does LiDAR Work, and What Are Its Limitations?

LiDAR is one of the leading options for surveying today, and it’s easy to see why. As a technology, it’s advanced, highly accurate, and fast. Compared to competing technology, it’s more effective and accurate a greater percentage of the time. To fully understand the benefits of LiDAR, you need to understand how LiDAR works, and why new Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) technology is helping it really take off.

What exactly is LiDAR? How does LiDAR work?

LiDAR releases very fast pulses of light towards a target and then measures the amount of time it takes for that light to travel back. As a LiDAR unit moves, usually on an aerial vehicle, it’s able to continuously scan an area using these small bursts of light to see how the terrain is changing around it. LiDAR units will take many points of data, which are then turned into a 3D mesh. 

For LiDAR to work effectively, its data must be analyzed. LiDAR data on its own is simply a number of disconnected points in space. But once processed and analyzed, this data will form a consolidated topographical map. 

LiDAR data is often gathered via sensors placed on vehicles such as UAVs (drones), helicopters, and planes. The method by which LiDAR data is captured does have some impact on its quality. Planes fly much higher than drones or helicopters, and consequently the data will not be as high resolution as it otherwise could be. However, that also means data can be captured much faster. 

LiDAR differs from the other major surveying method, which is photogrammetry. Under photogrammetry, photos of terrain are taken in quick succession, also often from an aerial vehicle. These photos are then analyzed to create a 3D model. Photogrammetry is not as accurate because it relies on 2D pictures to create a 3D model, but it is fast and cheap, and it does produce models that are usually fairly easy to understand; unlike LiDAR, these photos have color and realistic texture, so it is easy for the untrained eye to recognize things like fields, rivers, and roads.

  • Before-Oil & Gas Facility
    After-Oil & Gas Facility
    Laser Scan Oil & Gas Facility Model

What is a LiDAR drone?

LiDAR can be used on any aerial vehicle, but drones are becoming far more popular. A LiDAR drone is more maneuverable, able to capture higher resolution images, and can be deployed very quickly. Comparatively, other methods of LiDAR scanning require additional permits and licenses, and there is always the risk, no matter how minor, of something happening to a manned aerial crew.

What are the major benefits of LiDAR?

There’s a reason why this technology has seen such widespread adoption. The benefits include:

  • It’s fast. LiDAR captures quick bursts of light and can scan virtually as quickly as the aerial vehicle is able to move. Large swathes of land can be covered by LiDAR units.
  • It’s accurate. When paired with UAV, LiDAR scans can be conducted very low to the ground, taking high-resolution images of even very complex terrain. LiDAR scans can be taken in areas that would normally be too dangerous to survey, and drones are able to operate with precision to get the most accurate scans.
  • It’s in-depth. Photogrammetric imaging won’t show you what’s beneath brush or cloth, but LiDAR can. LiDAR can see through thin cloth and overgrown plants and leaves, thereby providing better topographical data.

However, there are few situations in which a LiDAR drone won’t be the optimal method for surveying.

Are there any limitations to LiDAR? 

Every technology has its limitations, even LiDAR. Though LiDAR has many benefits, there are also some downsides, which is why some projects choose to use photogrammetric imaging instead. A lack of color and texture means it can be difficult to interpret LiDAR data without training or additional pictures overlaid on the data.

LiDAR also requires in-house processing to get the most accurateresults. Because LiDAR data is very complex, outsourcing data analysis can lead to inaccurate data. Further, LiDAR is more expensive than other solutions like photogrammetry.

It can be beneficial to work with a company that offers both LiDAR and photogrammetric imaging. When used together, LiDAR and photogrammetric imaging can be extremely effective. 

Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of LiDAR? Do you want to know the differences between LiDAR and photogrammetry? Contact the experts at Landpoint.

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Why Accurate BIM is a Construction Company’s Dream

From preserving historic museums to developing new condominiums, building information modeling (BIM) is changing the face of architecture, design, and construction. Through accurate BIM, construction companies are able to plot out their projects in virtual space, anticipating issues, reducing re-works, and otherwise improving their return on investment.

Here’s why accurate BIM is a construction company’s dream.

BIM Construction = Reliable Construction

First, how is BIM used in construction? The construction industry has always relied upon data to make decisions. Recent advancements in technology have made the construction industry far more reliable. Decades ago, construction companies found themselves suddenly able to improve upon their product cost and deadline management through the power of computers.

In the very early days, having spreadsheets available made it easier for construction companies to produce more accurate bids. From there, construction planning solutions made it possible to streamline and improve upon the entire process, from start to finish.

Today, BIM is making construction data even more accurate. Construction companies are now able to plan their projects down to the millimeter, from showing clients how the finished product will look, to determining how different materials may interact with the surrounding environment. The better the data model, the less likely it is that companies will encounter surprises, and the better the company can plan for the future.

Improved Data Means Reduced Reworks

The construction industry spends approximately $178 billion a year on reworks — and that doesn’t include the cost of unsatisfied customers and damaged reputations. To a certain extent, some reworks are going to be expected in any project. But with better data, reworks can be vastly reduced. 

Modern building information modeling is so advanced that construction companies can even assess a project’s interactions with the surrounding environments. BIM is becoming an important part of solar panel farms and wind farms. They can determine what the solar or wind output will be depending on the weather and the season.

Furthermore, building information modeling can be used to keep clients engaged, and to ensure that clients have a picture in their mind of the completed project at all stages of development. Clients will be able to determine whether there are things that don’t work for them at the beginning of the project, instead of at the end, and consequently are less likely to request changes.

Alleviating Environmental Concerns for New Construction

Today, construction companies are more conscientious than ever about the impact that their buildings can have on the surrounding environment. Will glass potentially reflect damaging rays into the surrounding area? Could a change of water flow increase the natural erosion?

Construction companies aren’t just able to simulate the environment’s impact on the buildings, such as seasonal sunlight changes, but also the building’s own impact on the surrounding environment. This goes a long way towards building construction projects that will last a long time and that will make responsible use of the surrounding land.

Making It Easier to Collaborate with Other Teams

Through BIM, construction companies are able to identify potential conflicts between systems. Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems can all be compared before any work is done. Teams, even those working for different contractors, are able to share data and models. This means they can collaborate and communicate with each other more effectively, since they will always be working off the exact same data, rather than potentially using different versions.

With BIM, construction companies can share data and documents through the cloud, and this information can remain persistent throughout the job. At the same time, the construction company can lock down and control changes, so there isn’t a risk of others overriding the essential data. 

Keeping Records for Completed Projects

Data is eternal. There’s a reason why BIM has been used on historic buildings: to preserve them forever. Through BIM, construction companies are also able to keep thorough records of their completed projects. Not only do they have the plans, but they can also use surveying to create models of the construction as it is completed.

Once the project is done, the company still has a complete record of the work, whether it’s needed in the future for renovations, or whether they simply want to make sure that their client has an archive of their project for legal purposes.

Adapting to BIM Construction

Business information modeling is constantly improving. It’s expected that the coming years are going to see some dramatic advances in the accuracy and ease with which BIM can be used. 

So why are some construction companies not yet using BIM? The use of BIM requires new systems and processes. Construction companies need to explore new advanced technologies and platforms, and engage in training employees. This takes time.

A partner can help. For more information about BIM and how to collect it, consult with the experts at Landpoint.

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3D Architecture Modeling: How a Video Game Could Save Notre Dame

When the Notre Dame cathedral burned in 2019, the entire world watched with rapt, horrified attention. The Notre Dame cathedral has long been a major historical treasure. Since 1163, it’s been known as a superb example of architecture. It has stored valuable works of art and antiques, and has become one of the most common tourist destinations in the world.

But through technological advances such as 3D architecture modeling and drone 3D mapping, the Notre Dame cathedral can still yet be saved – or, at least, restored. Here’s how a video game, of all things, may help bring back this historical building, which is expected to have its reconstruction completed by 2024.

3D Scanning for Historic Architecture

3D architecture modeling is already one of the top methods of preservation for historic buildings. Buildings can be 3D scanned and the surrounding areas surveyed for many reasons, with one of the most critical being if they are damaged or destroyed in the future. If they are damaged, these models can be used to create period-accurate repairs. If they are destroyed, these models can live on forever in the form of a digital museum.

But it wasn’t a historical preservation society that took scans of Notre Dame. Instead, it was a video game, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, using drone 3D mapping. This unexpected source could become an incredibly important resource moving forward.

Video Games and Historic Art

Assassin’s Creed is a long-running video game series that is well-known for constructing highly accurate virtual reproductions of ancient locations. Players of the Assassin’s Creed series have been able to run through historic Egypt, Italy, Greece, and more.

Players are sometimes even able to view buildings at different stages of development, due to the game’s time-traveling plot. Each location is met with descriptive text that explains the historical, architectural, and other importance of the building. Of course, it’s also a game about assassins and aliens, but that part is less relevant.

During its development, Assassin’s Creed: Unity creators conducted a very accurate recreation of the Notre Dame cathedral. Since then, many have discussed how this digital model could be used to accurately reconstruct the cathedral itself. This isn’t as unusual as it may seem. The video game industry has been making rapid strides in 3D technology, just as the movie animation industry has been.

It’s also not unusual to use a video game. In the past, photographs, drawings, and other media were often used to aid in reconstructions. While no one piece of material can be thought to be the last say in a reconstruction, being able to see the commonalities between media gives a fairly clear idea of the original. For example, an archway seen on five photographs and ten drawings is likely to be fairly accurate.

Today, accuracy goes beyond the human hand and eye, and into the realm of digital survey and drone 3D mapping.

  • Before-Oil & Gas Facility
    After-Oil & Gas Facility
    Laser Scan Oil & Gas Facility Model

BIM and Historic Sites

Today, it’s a game that could be saving a major historic site. Tomorrow, there could be a vault that contains all the major historic sites in the world. Business Information Modeling (BIM) — the ability to capture and preserve information about a building and the surrounding area — is a non-disruptive, highly accurate way of taking snapshots of time.

Imagine a world in which every historic site has a corresponding accurate 3D model. It can never be fully lost. If an earthquake occurs and the building falls, the building can either be completely reproduced, or it can be visited in virtual space. Even if the building is still there in all its glory, BIM can be used to create simulations for those who cannot see it in person. BIM can even be used to determine how changes in the surrounding environment could eventually impact the buildings.

Think about historic Venice. Rising waters and continued degradation mean that Venice and its most historic buildings are in danger. BIM wouldn’t just immortalize these, it could also be used to simulate how long Venice will last under the current conditions, and what could potentially be done to slow the degradation.

BIM is truly an excellent opportunity to save priceless historic locations. While nothing can replace the original buildings, and everything held within them, BIM can make it possible to get extremely close in terms of historical accuracy. Even as buildings may fall and crumble, BIM creates an eternal digital world through which these great works will always exist.

Image Credit – Softonic
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Aerial Survey Companies & the Types of Surveys They Offer

When looking for an aerial survey, you should be aware that there are three major types of survey you can invest in: drone, helicopter, and plane. While the actual land surveying technology may be separate (either LiDAR or photogrammetric), the method through which the data is captured will have a significant impact on the cost of the survey, as well as the accuracy of the survey. Here’s what you need to know about drone, helicopter, and plane surveying. 

Drone Aerial Survey

Drones (UAVs) have many advantages over traditional surveying technologies—which is why UAV and LiDAR scanning has become an industry standard. They can perform land surveys quickly and close to the ground, delivering high resolution images within just a few hours. UAVs are not manned, and therefore they don’t carry with them a significant risk of potential injury. They are less expensive than other options because they are unmanned and due to the lower cost of the technology. UAVs can navigate into virtually any area with little preparation. 

However, there are a couple of disadvantages to drone-based technologies. UAVs may not be able to fly in windy environments, as they are lightweight. Further, UAVs are party to a number of regulations and restrictions. While these regulations are still being explored, they can occasionally present a barrier.

Helicopter Aerial Survey

Helicopters are able to hover while using LiDAR technology, remaining stable even in bad weather. They are often desirable over ground surveys because helicopters can go virtually anywhere. Compared to airplane surveys, helicopters can fly lower and therefore acquire higher resolution imagery. Helicopters are more maneuverable in high winds than drones, and they also aren’t subject to the same types of regulations.

In terms of negatives, a helicopter does still involve a flight crew, which can be potentially dangerous. If a helicopter does crash, people could be seriously injured and a project could be delayed. Helicopters are more affordable than airplanes, but they are not as affordable as UAVs. Operational delays may also factor in, as manned crews will need permits and licenses to fly. 

Airplane Aerial Survey

During an airplane survey, an airplane uses LiDAR technology as well as GPS coordinates to very quickly scan an area as it passes above. Airplane LiDAR surveys are very fast and can be effective over virtually any type of terrain. Airplanes tend to be a superior way of getting scans over very large areas quickly, such as when doing preliminary surveys before a site is selected. Airplanes also cannot be dissuaded by issues such as inclement weather or high winds. 

Of course, there are also some disadvantages to conducting LiDAR via airplane. Airplane LiDAR tends to be very expensive, as not only do you need to pay for the aircraft and the LiDAR, but you also need to pay for the crew of the plane as well as the fuel. Further, airplanes need to fly fairly far away from the ground to remain safe, which lowers the resolution and accuracy of the scans. Like helicopters, airplane scans may also be dangerous to the crew.

Conclusions

Each type of survey has pros and cons, depending on the project that you’re completing. In general, if the area to be surveyed isn’t party to anti-UAV regulations or high winds, a UAV will be the preferable option. If there are high winds or other dangerous weather, an airplane or helicopter may be better, as budget allows. A UAV will be able to get closer than an airplane at a reduced cost, but a helicopter provides a solid middle ground between the two.

Consulting with a land survey company can help you determine which type of survey technology is best for you. While there are many companies that have recently opened offering UAV-based surveys, Landpoint is one of the few surveying companies that offer all three types of surveys. For more information about the types of surveying available, contact Landpoint.

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