What is Surveying in Civil Engineering? Why Surveyors Are Critical to Public Works

What is surveying in civil engineering? Why is it so critical? Surveying is involved in everything — from accurately drawing boundaries between private and public land, to inspecting bridges and other critical infrastructure. Without surveying, the placement, security, and safety of projects cannot be assured. Here’s an overview of how surveying works with civil engineering to make public works better.

The Relationship Between Civil Engineering and Surveying

Civil engineering is a complex discipline. In fact, it’s the second oldest engineering discipline apart from military engineering. Civil engineering is often associated with public works, but that’s not all it is. Civil engineering is any type of engineering that involves building infrastructure on top of the environment: Canals, bridges, and pipelines are most notable.

Since civil engineering involves directly impacting the environment (often in a significant way), surveys are incredibly important. Surveys make sure that protected environment isn’t adversely affected, that the structure is safe, and that the project is overall as efficient as possible.  

So, what is surveying in civil engineering? It is a critical part of every stage of a project’s development. Here are some of the ways in which surveying is so incredibly important.

Inspect High Risk Areas Such as Bridges and Other Infrastructure

Through the use of drones, bridge surveys (and other types of high risk surveys) can be completed without any risk to personnel. A drone bridge inspection is naturally less dangerous than a conventional survey, as drones can get into areas that a person could not easily (or safely) get into. Drones can fly around a bridge or other complex infrastructure easily, thereby conducting more in-depth surveys and increasing the overall safety of the bridge.

Many of the bridges in the United States are in disrepair, and it isn’t the bridges alone that are an issue. Canals, dams, and other civil infrastructure could be at risk of falling apart, because they aren’t being frequently inspected. Dams are among other, similar, infrastructure which cannot be easily inspected, and consequently may have issues that need to be repaired but haven’t yet been revealed.

Drones can fly very close to the ground, and they can hover, which means they can inspect areas that are otherwise inaccessible. And all of this makes it more likely to complete projects safely.

Collect Accurate Data for Proposals

When engineering proposals are being completed, accurate surveys can help. Public works generally require approval by the public, either through direct vote, or by voting in lawmakers who are interested in completing certain projects. And the public can be against any improvements that could potentially be very dangerous.

Collecting accurate data is essential to the future of a project. With the right drone surveys, 3D simulations can be created. As an example, a new road could impact water flows, or could cause issues of erosion for the surrounding environment.

Once accurate drone surveys have been completed, lawmakers will be able to better support their case in the public. And the public will be able to make more knowledgeable decisions overall. Data collected for a proposal could also indicate that a project is unsafe, in which case lawmakers would want to know this before they support the initiatives themselves.

Resolve Legal Issues Between Private and Public Property

Property issues can become a big dispute. When civil engineering projects are initiated, there can often be issues between public property and private ownership. Boundary surveys may be needed to resolve whose land is being developed. With drones, the data can be utilized to help determine where private land ends and public lands begin. This can prevent both costly acquisitions and the use of eminent domain.

Drones are, by far, the fastest and safest ways to conduct a regular land survey today — while they may not be able to travel at the speeds of planes, they can usually deploy much faster. This heads off legal issues before they become major problems, eliminating delays to important public works problems, and assuring citizens that only public land is being developed.

Surveying and civil engineering is critically linked, and there are many ways in which drone technology can help civil engineers complete their work. Whether the project is public or private, it’s important that the environment around the development be thoroughly scanned and surveyed. UAV technology, combined with technologies such as LiDAR scanning, can produce highly accurate, cost-effective surveys for all types of engineering projects.

Do you want to learn more about surveying and civil engineering? Do you want to invest in drone inspection? Contact the experts at Landpoint.

Surveys at Scale - How Landpoint Tackles Survey Projects of Any Size

How Drones Make Solar Panel Inspection, Installation, and Maintenance Easier than Ever

Before your solar panel installation, consider the many benefits of drone technology. Drones can be used during the process of installing, maintaining, and inspecting a solar installation. Safe, fast, and easy to deploy, drone technology is versatile and cost-effective. With drone technology, surveys can be taken with either LiDAR or photogrammetric scanning, offering useful information to the owners and maintainers of the project and system.  

Consider the following benefits of drone surveying for your next installation.

Installing Solar Panels with Drone Surveys

Before the installation occurs, drones can be used to survey the entire area. A drone survey will indicate which areas are going to be in the sunlight most often, thereby impacting the efficiency of the installation. If using photogrammetric imaging, the drone will take a number of photos from above and derive 3D data from that. If using LiDAR imaging, the drone will use a laser to create highly accurate 3D plots that can be used for simulations.

When surveys are completed, 3D simulations can also be made. These simulations will show the impact that the solar panels will have on the surrounding environment, as well as the impact the environment will have on the solar panels. Together, this provides a more accurate picture of the efficiency of your solar installation.

Traditionally, solar surveys were usually done by manned vehicles: planes and helicopters. But these are far more dangerous. A manned aerial vehicle can crash or encounter other difficulties, which can injure people. Drone surveys are safe; since they are unmanned, even a crash will not cause much damage. Further, drone surveys can be completed faster, because they don’t require the hiring of a manned crew, nor the licenses and permits required for manned surveys.

3D surveys aren’t just used to make sure that the installation is as efficient as it can be. They’re also used to avoid damage to the surrounding environment, by simulating issues such as soil erosion. 3D simulations can be so precise that they can be used to predict potential environmental issues, in addition to their use for product costing.

Drone surveys are particularly useful for this, because many companies now offer end-to-end management for simulation information, collecting data and analyzing said data nearly immediately after drone deployment.

Maintaining Solar Panels After Installation

Drones can be used to conduct surveys after solar panels have been installed, making it possible for technicians to identify potential issues. When flying over a space, a solar drone inspection can identify potential problems, such as solar panels that have been covered by dust and dirt.

In the past, technicians would need to travel on site, by ground, to determine whether there were issues with the panels. And if panels weren’t inspected regularly, there could be serious long-term damage.

But with drones, video feedback can be taken with ease, and the site doesn’t have to be walked in order to be maintained. This encourages more regular maintenance and ensures that technicians know exactly where they’re being deployed when they are being deployed.

The larger the installation is, the more important this feature will be. And as your solar deployment scales upwards, you’ll see continued improvements in your general operating costs. 

Completing Routine Solar Panel Inspections

A solar drone inspection can be used to detect issues with solar panels specifically, such as heat-related issues. If there are heat fissures or cracks forming, drones can report back the exact location of the issue, and technicians can be deployed directly. 

For safety, a drone solar panel inspection is incredibly important. Without regular inspection, solar panels can become so damaged that they need to be replaced. Regular inspection will save an organization both time and money, and will potentially reduce the risk to individual technicians.

Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of drones for solar technology? Contact Landpoint today to find out more.