I Connect, We Connect; Life with MS

In honor of World MS Day and the Texas MS 150, Jeff Armbruster, VP of Sales & Marketing at Landpoint, has bravely chosen to share his story of life with multiple sclerosis. Jeff will be riding the Texas MS 150 virtually this year due to COVID, raising funds to help the MS Society find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. If you would like to follow Jeff’s MS150 journey and help him reach his fundraising goal, follow this link.

I Connect, We Connect; Jeff Armbruster’s Story

“October 14th, 2009 at 1:30pm, my family’s life changed forever when I heard the words, ‘You have MS.’ In January of 2009, I shoveled snow at 5am before a trip to Houston and felt a pop in my lower back. I went on my trip and then to a doctor who diagnosed a ruptured disc. Through therapy, I was able to walk the stage at graduation in late April. On Friday before Memorial Day, I picked up a cooler while loading my truck to take the family to our campsite at Atwood Lake when I felt a bigger pop in the same spot. We had our holiday, but the pain was terrible. Tuesday following the weekend, I had to leave for a business trip to Houston again. My flight through Atlanta was delayed, so I had to run through the airport to avoid missing my connection. Wednesday morning, I woke up to discover my right foot was numb. Each day, the numbness moved up my leg until it got to my waist. My flight back from Houston was late by 2 hours, thanks to an accident at Atlanta’s airport. I was forced to run through the airport again to avoid missing the last flight back home. Saturday morning, I woke up completely numb in both legs from the waist down. Back surgery to repair the disc was scheduled for the earliest possible date, July 5th.

The surgery was successful, but my legs barely improved. On July 15th, I was allowed to take my first shower, so I turned the water as hot as I could stand it and enjoyed the water hitting my back. I got dressed and tried to walk to the mailbox and made it about 10 feet from the front porch when I felt a tuning fork sensation run down from my lower back to my toes, and my legs quit working. I had to grab my knees to stop them from collapsing, and I yelled for help. After that day, every time I took a shower or got overheated, my legs would stop working. New symptoms started whenever I took a hot shower or got overheated. My entire body would vibrate furiously, and I would have to lay down. I would sleep for hours, even after sleeping through the night. I walked incredibly slow and could only take a few dozen steps. I drug my left leg. I would have to sit and rest before going further. I begged my doctor to do something, telling him that something else must be wrong. He continued to blame it on the potential damage to the nerves as they spilled down my legs as they exited the spinal cord. He kept saying that I would have to learn to live with it. But, the symptoms worsened, and I began to feel excruciating pain in my legs. I now had insomnia and incontinence. I was begging all of my doctors to do something.
I finally convinced my primary care physician that something was seriously wrong, and he scheduled another MRI for me. Since I had an MRI prior to my back surgery, they moved up my spine one level from the lumbar area to the thoracic region. The MRI showed a lesion at the T-10 vertebrae area. He sent me to a neurologist who ordered three more tests; an MRI of my entire spine and brain, an evoked potential test, and a spinal tap. The MRI showed twenty lesions in my brain and two in my spine. The evoked potential test was normal, so my Optic Nerve was okay, but my spinal tap showed anti-body markers for MS. On October 14th, I learned that I had Multiple Sclerosis.

On October 15th, 2009, every day after that started with a shot. I was giving myself a drug to stop the progression of MS. While I didn’t get new lesions, the injections didn’t work. My symptoms increased, and new ones started. I began to get debilitating cramps in my feet, toes, and calves, so I started a new drug to relax the muscles. In 2012, I started a new disease-modifying therapy that required an infusion every 28 days. I was so relieved to not start my day with a self-administered shot. After encouragement from my wife, I started another drug that was a twice-daily pill that was supposed to speed up how fast I walked. Eight days later, I could walk at regular speed. These two new medications had an amazing effect on my MS. In 2014, I was finally able to walk the track at a WalkMS Event. I stopped using a wheelchair for good in November 2014. Then in 2015, I rode 25 miles in my first MS150 bike ride. By 2017, I was riding the entire route from Houston to Austin. In 2012, I was invited to join the MS150 steering committee as its scribe. I was also a committee member for WalkMS and a top fundraiser.

While I was able to get better, many of my friends living with MS got worse. It’s the slow disability that builds with a chronic disease like MS. Several chose to end their lives because of the severe depression caused by MS and the pain that many suffer. With some, their MS turned from Relapsing and Remitting MS (RRMS) to Primary Progressive MS. Two-thirds of those diagnosed are women. In addition, there is a higher percentage of veterans returning from Vietnam and Gulf War I than are diagnosed in the general population.

Researchers still do not know the cause of multiple sclerosis. In honor of those battling MS, I will continue to work for a cure as long as I am able to.”

In honor of Jeff Armbruster, your contribution will support groundbreaking research and life-changing services for people living with MS. With your help, we’re one step closer to a world free of MS.

Your generosity makes a big difference. Together we’re changing lives.

What Should You Look for In a GIS Mapping Services Provider?

You’re looking for a GIS mapping services provider. But how can you tell which service is the right service for you? While there are many GIS mapping services providers out there, not all GIS & mapping services are made equal. Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at what you should look for in a GIS mapping services provider.

GIS Mapping Options

How is the data being acquired? Photogrammetric imaging? LiDAR? Will the mapping service use fixed-wing drones or quadcopter drones? The best GIS services company has numerous options for collecting GIS information—because different scenarios require different things. In some cases, it’s better to have a fast-moving fixed-wing drone. In others, it’s better to have a quadcopter. And in all cases, LiDAR provides more accurate GIS data, but it doesn’t provide data with colors or textures.

A top GIS provider like Landpoint can provide virtually any type of GIS mapping service that you want, getting you the raw data you need for the next step of analysis and simulation. If you want your data captured quickly over large volumes of terrain, then you likely want LiDAR capture through fixed-wing UAVs. If you need more maneuverability and high-resolution data, you may need LiDAR capture through quadcopter UAVs.

And if you need textures and colors, it may be that you need a combination of LiDAR scanning and photogrammetric scanning. It all depends on your personal needs and the environment—and it’s something that a well-qualified GIS services company should be able to walk you through.

Cloud-Based GIS

Cloud-based GIS is becoming more popular due to the extensive resources necessary to crunch large data sets. With a cloud-based GIS system, data can be automatically sent to the cloud when it’s recorded. The power of the cloud can be used to analyze the information and persistent, synced cloud storage can be used to save the data forever. Even better, this data can then be accessed by key stakeholders from everywhere in the world. It makes sense to go with a company like Landpoint that can provide completely cloud-based GIS services.

When data is stored on the cloud, it’s never lost. You’ll be able to access your data now and a decade into the future. While that may not seem to be a priority, what happens when you want to make further changes or alterations to your worksite? What happens if you need to run comparisons to the terrain as it used to be—or analyze whether environmental changes have occurred? Cloud-based GIS services aren’t just advantageous because they provide additional resources. They’re more advanced because they can save your data forever.

Unlimited Data Sizes

Landpoint provides unlimited data sizes—something that not all GIS services can provide. GIS and mapping services now consume more data than ever, because the levels of resolution and accuracy are constantly increasing. If you want to be able to capture the highest resolution, most involved data possible, you need unlimited data sizes. This provides you with the information that you need to complete simulations, make decisions, and analyze your site. 

Experience in Your Industry

Ideally, you want to work with GIS services that have some experience in your industry. Have they worked with gas pipelines before? Have they worked with housing developments or environmental studies? A GIS mapping services provider should be skilled at the type of GIS mapping that you need and have at least some experience within your industry.

Landpoint has experts and specialists in numerous industries, ranging from oil pipelines to construction. A robust and diverse GIS solution, Landpoint has clients across a large variety of disciplines—and that makes Landpoint uniquely well-suited to collect and analyze GIS information for these industries.

Every company in every industry has different reasons for conducting GIS mapping. It’s important that your GIS data properly reflect your goals, whether it’s ensuring that water runoff doesn’t harm the environment or locating the best sites for new buildings and structures. Raw GIS data must be accurate as possible, but how it’s processed and analyzed has to be similarly precise.

In-House Data Processing 

What happens when data is processed in-house? It’s faster, cheaper, and more accurate. When data is processed in-house, your GIS mapping services don’t need to rely upon a third-party solution to return the results. They are able to remain in complete control of the results and can ensure that the data is always available to you. And because they’re handling everything in-house rather than outsourcing it, they can also provide cheaper data processing services.

Landpoint does all its data processing end-to-end, so the data is collected via Landpoint systems, analyzed through Landpoint, and distributed through Landpoint. Not only does that improve productivity and cut down on time, but it also reduces the potential for import/export errors. Otherwise, it might be difficult to ensure that the data is correct cross-platform.

What to Look for in a GIS Services Company

These are the technical proficiencies that you should look for in GIS services: cloud technology, in-house data processing, and more. But you should also look for some other basic skills in a GIS services company. Your services company should be responsive and easy to work with. They should be able to get your data capture and data analysis on a schedule. And they should have the technology and employee hours to work with you conscientiously to make sure you get the data you need. 

Ask your GIS company the following questions:

  • How do you capture GIS data?
  • How is the GIS data processed?
  • Do you process all the GIS data yourself?

If you need to learn more about GIS mapping services and the GIS services available to you, the time is now. Contact the experts at Landpoint to find out more about what makes our GIS services special.

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

Which Utilities Need Underground Mapping?

Which utilities need underground mapping? All of them, really. Whenever a construction project, addition, renovation, or modification begins, one of the first steps should be an underground utility survey.

Utility lines are everywhere, but they aren’t always visible. Using utility location services, you can identify where they are and hopefully avoid them.

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common types of underground utilities and why it’s critically important to map them properly before a big project.

Why is Underground Utility Mapping Important?

Mapping underground utilities is important for a few reasons: safety, accuracy, and efficiency.

  • Safety. If you’re digging and hit an unknown utility line, you could be in for an interesting surprise. Not only could you cause serious damage to the line, but you could also endanger yourself and those around you.
  • Accuracy. When you’re planning a construction or renovation project, you need to know exactly where all of your utilities are. Otherwise, you could find a line too late and have to disrupt the entire project.
  • Efficiency. By mapping out your utilities ahead of time, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle. You’ll know exactly where to dig, and you won’t have to worry about damaging any lines while you’re working.
  • Cost. No construction company wants to tell the city that they just hit a gas main. Not only is that expensive, but it’s also going to lead to an expensive work disruption.

Utility lines are out there. Sometimes, they’re nowhere near where you think they should be. Underground utility mapping is what prevents you from experiencing a disaster every time you build on a previous site.

What Are Utility Location Services?

What do you do if you don’t have the technology to find utility lines yourself and you don’t have maps to determine where the lines might be?

Utility location services are exactly what they sound like—services that help you locate underground utilities. There are a few different types of utility location services, but the most common is ground penetrating radar (GPR). Drones can be used to get information over large sites fast.

GPR works by sending out a signal and measuring the time it takes for the signal to bounce back. This information can be used to create a map of the underground utilities in the area. Other methods, such as electromagnetic induction (EMI) and direct current resistivity (DCR), can also be used to detect utilities.

Either way, utility location services are absolutely essential to the process of underground mapping. Without utility location services, you won’t know where to dig. You should virtually never rely on pre-existing maps for your utility lines. Utility lines get adjusted over time, they shift, and they may not be where you think they should be.

Underground Mapping for Water Utilities

Water utilities are some of the most important lines to map properly. They’re also one of the most challenging types of utilities to work with, since they can be located in a variety of different places.

Most waterlines are, of course, underground, where they can be susceptible to damage from excavation and construction projects. But the positive side of water lines is that they don’t usually cause injury when accidentally hit, unlike gas lines or electrical lines.

The negative is that they can cause an extraordinary amount of damage to the actual work site. When a water line bursts, it can cause damage within just a few minutes—and it can take that long to get the water shut off.

Underground Mapping for Gas Utilities and Pipelines

Gas pipelines are another important type of utility. While there are some pretty strict regulations as to where they can be, they can also be just about anywhere. Since they run underground, they frequently run through both public and private places.

Mapping gas pipelines is critical for safety reasons. If you hit a gas pipeline while you’re digging, you could cause a serious explosion. That’s why it’s so important to know where these pipelines are before you start any excavation or construction project.

One lucky thing is that gas pipelines are generally located by the city, which means you can usually call the city and have them mark out where the gas is, even if you’re going through serious commercial construction. It’s the responsibility of the city and the gas company to know where their gas lines are.

Underground Mapping for Electrical Utilities

Mapping electrical utilities is another important task. Like gas pipelines, they can be located in a variety of places, but they’re most commonly found underground. Of course, it’s getting to be more common that electrical utilities are run through the air. Largely, it depends on the size of your city, the extensiveness of its infrastructure, and whether it gets damaging weather.

One of the biggest dangers with electrical utilities is contact. If you touch an electric line while you’re working on your project, you could be seriously injured or even killed. Since a worker might not notice a live electrical line while they’re working, it’s essential that they know where those lines might be.

Underground Mapping for Telecommunications Lines

Mapping telecommunications lines is another important task. Like electrical utilities, they can be located in a variety of places, but they’re most commonly found underground.

Telecommunications lines are unique because there are many companies that run them. As a whole, most telecommunications lines aren’t dangerous, but you won’t typically find a single, consolidated map of where all the lines are, because they may have been placed by multiple service providers.

The biggest problem with telecommunications lines is that cutting a telecom line means that you could bring the entire neighborhood’s internet down. It’s certainly not a way to endear them to what is already a construction project in their backyard. And if you’re developing a business, it’s very possible that you could accidentally cut your own underground telecom lines.

Mapping Utilities: The Bottom Line

Mapping utilities is an important task, and it’s one that should be done carefully and accurately. By mapping out your underground utilities ahead of time, you can save yourself a lot of time, as well as a call to your insurance company. For most city-wide utilities, you can give them a call and have them mapped. Otherwise, you may want to commit to more involved surveying services.

Are you interested in how to survey and map your worksite? Do you need your utilities mapped now? Contact the experts at Landpoint for more information about utility surveying and underground utility mapping.


6 Fundamentals of a Safe Natural Gas Distribution System

Pipelines are known to be one of the safest types of natural gas distribution systems. But they still require proper planning, active maintenance, and monitoring. While pipelines rarely experience disasters, when they do experience a disaster, the results can be tremendous and long-lasting.

Today, we’re going to take a look at what keeps a natural gas distribution system safe — both before it’s designed and after it’s been developed. 

1. The Pipeline First Needs the Right Planning

The first safety consideration for a natural gas distribution system is the location of the pipeline. Pipelines should be located in areas that are free from potential hazards, like wetlands and floodplains. They should also be buried deep enough to avoid damage from construction or other activities.

Pre-planning surveys can be used not only to protect pipelines, but also to ensure that the routes are as efficient as possible. With the right surveys, pipelines can be simulated to determine the eventual results of the build — and to compare the efficiency and safety of different options.

2. Conducting the Right Environmental Surveys

Before a pipeline is built, the company must also conduct extensive environmental surveys. This includes surveying the land for any endangered species or habitats and assessing potential risks to groundwater.

A thorough survey can head off many environmental problems. Today, simulations can be run to detect issues with water or soil runoff, or how potential spills could spread into the surrounding territory. Doing this due diligence can greatly reduce the environmental impact should there be a spill or other incident. 

3. Schedule Regular Inspections of the Pipeline

Once a pipeline is up and running, safety still needs to be a top priority. Pipelines should be regularly inspected for damage or corrosion. Drones, also known as UAVs, can be used to survey the land on a regular basis, using LiDAR scanning to detect potential issues, like overgrowth.

Before UAVs, many inspections had to be done on foot. Not only was this time-consuming and expensive, but it was potentially dangerous work. Inspections weren’t completed any more frequently than they absolutely had to be. Now, inspections can be done very frequently.

And another benefit is that when these inspections are done, the issues can be reported directly to a dispatch team.

4. Faster, More Effective, Disaster Control

If there is a problem with a pipeline and a drone detects it, the drone can send back its exact GPS coordinates as well as information about the issue. The individual flying the drone will be able to take pictures or other sensor data, so the technicians who are going to fix the problem aren’t going in blind. Teams only need to be dispatched once with the right technology and tools—which means the issues are addressed much faster.

Time is essential when it comes to a safe natural gas distribution system. A small leak can become disastrous if it’s allowed to grow over time. So, another major advantage of UAVs is that they provide information about issues before the technician is even dispatched, making the entire process faster and more efficient. Otherwise, once an issue is detected, the technicians would need to go out an extra time to determine what supplies were necessary.

5. Monitoring for Leaks with Sensors

Obviously, the biggest safety concern is leaking. Today, there are many IoT devices and sensors that can trigger if even a minor leak is detected. When these sensors trigger, the company can shut down the pipeline and repair it immediately. Better sensors are making it easier to detect problems with pipelines before they ever trigger. Thus, gas pipe maintenance can be performed before the gas distribution pipeline is disrupted.

As these sensors become more advanced, they are able to report more data. Soon, machine learning intelligence will be able to identify the signs of failure before they occur. Today, these sensors can at least notify companies immediately about a leak. From there, they can work to address the leak as soon as possible.

6. Adhering to a System of Accountability

With regular inspections, leak detection, and fast dispatch, natural gas companies can create a system of accountability and safety. It’s essential that companies hold themselves accountable to environmental protection, ensure that they are doing all they can to detect issues proactively and respond very swiftly to any potential issues.

Thus, organizations should maintain audits of their current safety features, ensure that their safety processes are being followed, and look for any potential gaps in their safety management. If spills and other issues do occur, the organization should undergo a complete investigation to find the source of the issue and address it.

By following these six fundamentals, gas companies can ensure that their pipelines are safe and reliable. Not only does this help to preserve the environment, but it also reduces disruption and unnecessary costs.

Of course, all safety measures begin with a survey. Without a survey, the pipeline installation itself may be in an area that is potentially dangerous, difficult to maintain, or otherwise untenable. Contact Landpoint today to find out more about the services we provide for natural gas and beyond.

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

The Role of Surveys in Pipeline Pig Tracking & Operations

Pipelines always begin with surveys. And it’s easy to see how a UAV can help with an initial pipeline survey. But pipeline management, maintenance, and repair go well beyond the initial surveys. Today, we’re going to take a look at the role of surveys and UAVs in pipeline pig tracking (as well as general operations).

What is Pipeline Pig Tracking?

Pipeline pig tracking refers to the process of monitoring the general health of the pipeline. A pipeline pig is put through the pipeline and then its progress is monitored, indicating any issues as it goes. There are various origin stories for this phrase. 

The clearest origin is that the “pig” devices make a squealing sound as they move through the pipes. In later days, “pig” started to refer to Pipeline Inspection Gauge or Pipeline Intervention Gauge. But this is likely what’s known as a “backronym,” someone inventing a reason to use an acronym rather than the other way around.

Either way, pipeline pig tracking is a form of in-line inspection that makes it possible to manage and monitor a pipeline without having to open it up or potentially disrupt it. As pipelines are often buried, difficult to access, and usually need to stay in continuous operation, it can be otherwise very difficult to determine whether a pipeline is experiencing issues.

In-Line Inspections (ILI) for Pipeline Integrity

An in-line inspection (ILI) refers to the same thing as pipeline pig tracking. It’s a non-destructive method of ensuring that a pipeline isn’t leaking and that its structural integrity is still holding.

Pipeline maintenance involves some challenges. The pipeline has to remain up and continue flowing, which can make it difficult to determine whether something’s wrong with the pipeline itself.

Consequently, many methods have arisen to make it easier to identify cracks and damage in the pipeline.

Even if a pipeline has some measure of exterior integrity, there comes a concern that it could be damaged by things like adjacent tree growth, earthquakes, and other disruptive and destructive events.

Surveying with Pig Tracking

Pig tracking can be performed through a survey, with the surveying UAV looking for a sensor that would be connected to the pig. By completing surveying in this fashion, pig tracking can be faster, easier, and more accurate.

UAVs are increasingly being used not only for new constructions, but also for the management and monitoring of already constructed projects. When it comes to surveying pipelines, a UAV survey can identify potential areas of intrusion (such as large trees growing by a pipeline) as well as potentially damaged pipelines (using sensors).

As time goes on, sensors will only become more advanced and more able to identify issues. Consistent in-line inspections can reduce the chances that a major incident might occur and can overall improve operations. By improving the management and maintenance of the operation, surveys can also reduce the overall costs of the pipeline site.

Initial Drone Surveys

At the beginning of a pipeline project, UAVs and surveying can also be used to ensure that the project is completed as it should be. Surveys can be used to isolate the best areas for the pipeline to go in. Simulations based on these surveys can identify any potential environmental risks.

A drone survey is a very accurate way to map out the area that’s being developed. The drone survey data can then be assessed and used in simulations until the best possible pipeline has been constructed.

Once that pipeline has been constructed, that’s when the organization will need to look at pig tracking, in-line inspections, and general pipeline integrity. 

Initial drone surveys can be used to ensure that the present-day pipeline still looks the same as it did before; these comparisons can be used via drone technology to identify areas of damage after a large event, such as an earthquake or severe hailstorm. Initial drone surveys can also be kept and simulated, if in the future the pipeline needs to undergo expansion.

Monitoring through UAV Technology

UAVs can be used to deliver information about tell-tale signs that a pipeline may have lost its integrity. For instance, a UAV might be able to notice from above that the ground appears to be saturated in a given area, that trees and plants are not faring well, or even that a sensor such as a Pipeline Inspection Gauge has gone off. 

The more monitoring provided to the pipeline, the safer and more valuable it becomes. By heading off issues before they become major problems, the pipeline won’t just save money but will also be able to preserve the environment and its surroundings. All this can happen through more regular monitoring with unmanned aerial vehicles.

UAVs and the Pipeline Industry

Ultimately, there are many ways in which unmanned aerial vehicles can help with pipeline operations. From dig staking to determining pipeline integrity, a UAV can assist by putting eyes on potential issues, by interfacing with sensors, by producing initial surveys, and by helping determine where problem spots may be.

And the more often regular assessments are completed over the territory, the less likely there are to be significant incidents.

Want to learn more about UAVs and the pipeline industry? Contact Landpoint to find out.


Necessary Components of Safe Pipeline Maintenance

Pipeline maintenance is incredibly important. Not only does the industry go through revisions of regulations and standards with some frequency, but no organization wants to have to deal with the consequences of a catastrophic failure. With that in mind, there are some necessary components of safe pipeline maintenance that can make the entire process easier.

Pipeline Integrity Management Software

Pipeline integrity services create a framework for pipeline integrity management. These pipeline integrity services help organizations follow given sets of codes and standards, such as how often inspections should be done, and how inspectors should be trained. 

Organizations can lean heavily on pipeline integrity platforms as a method by which they don’t just plan out their maintenance efforts, but also create a paper trail of those efforts that can show that they have done their due diligence.

Pipeline Integrity Assessments

Pipeline integrity assessments are assessments designed to ensure that the pipelines are being managed and maintained correctly. Through a regular assessment, an organization can audit any improvements they need to make in the management of their pipeline. 

By auditing the organization’s standards, the organization can ensure that it doesn’t become lax about its pipeline inspections and pipeline management.

Pipeline In-Line Inspections

In-line inspections can be performed to identify potential issues regarding the pipeline from within. In-line inspections will reveal issues such as cracks, defects, and warping, which could eventually cause failure. A pipeline in-line inspection should be done semi-frequently; if it catches anything, repairs can be made before the issues become severe. 

It is very rare for an in-use pipeline to be taken down. For the most part, pipelines have to be inspected while they are still in use. Often, they also have to be repaired while they’re still in use. This creates additional challenges — challenges that can be resolved through the right applications of the right technology.

Drone Pipeline Inspections

Drone pipeline inspections can substantially reduce maintenance costs. Drones can be used to fly over and survey a pipeline that has already been built, to identify areas in which the pipeline could be revealed, potentially damaged, or otherwise breached. Drone pipeline inspections are much safer than traditional inspections. At the same time, pipeline exposure and depth of cover can also be assessed.

UAVs are inherently safer than manned aerial vehicles, because they don’t involve any danger to a crew within. Further, drone pipeline inspections can also be safer than inspections on the ground, as an individual doesn’t have to risk danger to physically inspect the pipeline.

Drone pipeline inspections can also be combined with pipeline sensors to determine exactly where an issue is and what that issue could potentially be. Because drone pipeline inspections are so easy to deploy, they can also lead to an organization completing more inspections more frequently, as well.

Pipeline Sensors

In addition to using drones to improve safety, pipeline sensors can also be incorporated to detect issues such as potentially high or low pressure. Pipeline sensors are increasingly being included in pipe construction, added to the Internet of Things, and automated. A pipeline sensor can set off an alarm if it detects something that it shouldn’t, feeding its own exact location to its management and maintenance team.

A pipeline sensor can become one part of a much broader network of sensors and devices that are all designed to report on the current status of the pipeline. Thus, manufacturers are able to take a more hands-off approach. Between regular surveying and pipeline sensors, an alert can be raised every time an issue occurs.

Losses and Other Data

Apart from physical devices and systems, such as sensors and drones, pipeline organizations must also crunch large volumes of data. If a sensor doesn’t go off and no damage is visible, this data may still reveal that more materials are getting lost in transit than should be getting lost — a leak may be involved but be undetectable. 

Software solutions that are designed to crunch large volumes of data and identify patterns (as well as issues that don’t fit into an established pattern) can be used to automate the process of identifying these types of detectable signs. There are pipeline maintenance companies that can use advanced solutions to detect problems swiftly.

Oil and Gas Pipeline Maintenance

For pipeline maintenance, faster is always better. The faster that an issue can be identified and resolved, the less likely it is to cause widespread issues throughout the region. With a combination of UAVs, sensors, data analysis, and assessments, organizations are able to better monitor their pipeline technology and are able to more quickly identify potential faults.

Once faults have been discovered, it’s essential that the organization resolve them right away. The longer an issue goes on, the more likely it is to cause significant damage. 

Oil and gas pipeline maintenance is essential to the industry. Without the right pipeline integrity management, it’s very easy to see how a pipeline could damage the surrounding environment, disrupt the organization, and ultimately cost quite a lot to repair. 

With the above components, pipeline maintenance can be achieved at reduced costs and greater levels of safety.

Are you interested in learning more about pipeline integrity management? Through surveying, monitoring, and maintenance, the UAVs of Landpoint can help. Contact Landpoint today to find out more.


How Does a LiDAR Drone Survey Work?

If you’re thinking of conducting a survey, you might be wondering if you should use a UAV. UAVs are a swiftly growing branch of the surveying industry — so quickly, in fact, that it’s becoming a standard.

Today, we’re going to discuss some of the types of LiDAR mapping drone, how you perform a LiDAR survey, and what you do with the GIS data that emerges.

The Types of LiDAR Mapping Drone

There are two major types of LiDAR mapping drone: fixed-wing and quadcopter. A fixed-wing drone is much like a plane. It’s easy to fly straight but it can take a little more work to maneuver. Because it glides, it cannot hover. A quadcopter is more like a helicopter. It can be more challenging to fly, but it can also hover. Frequently, it’s more maneuverable than a fixed-wing drone.

The type of drone you select is going to depend on the type of survey you need. If you need a survey that goes under something like a bridge, or inside of something like a cavern, a quadcopter drone is probably better. If you need something that can cover a large volume of territory very quickly, a fixed-wing drone is likely an ideal solution.

And, of course, it isn’t always about drones. LiDAR can also be used with planes and helicopters. Because these are manned vehicles, they are more dangerous and need additional permitting. Planes may go too fast and too high to get a good, high-resolution image, whereas helicopters may not be stable if they’re asked to do too much maneuvering and can’t safely approach places a drone can.

Performing a LiDAR Drone Survey

Performing a LiDAR drone survey is easy. First, permits may be needed; it depends on the area. It’s still faster and more affordable than trying to use a manned aerial vehicle, such as a manned plane or helicopter. The drone will already be fitted with LiDAR technology. One drone or multiple drones, depending on the size of the property, will fly over the area and capture images. The LiDAR images will be exceptionally clear and high quality; they will even cut through brush. 

All of this is handled by the experts. A drone survey professional is able to setup a survey very quickly. Multiple drones may be used depending on the amount of power they can store in their batteries. The drone will already have built-in LiDAR technology which can then be exported directly to a GIS system.

Corridor Mapping for a LiDAR Drone Survey

Corridor mapping is one of the strategies that can be used for directing survey drones.

Today, a lot of drones can be programmed to do some complicated maneuvers. For instance, most drones have a “hover” mode that sets a point in space that the drone is supposed to circle or hover by. Because a lot of this is automated, it’s easy to perform these maneuvers as necessary.

Corridor mapping means that the drone is simply going straight and collecting data. While it may not be as fun as twists and turns, corridor mapping is what makes a LiDAR drone survey so efficient.

In addition to corridor mapping, you can have drones wait where they are. Corridor mapping is simply the most efficient method for surveying large volumes of land quickly. It’s often best suited to fixed-wing UAVs, as they operate like planes and can fly very fast.

GIS Data for Aerial Mapping

Once the data has been collected, it will be brought into a GIS platform. Most GIS data, whether it’s from LiDAR or another source, will be in a standardized format. From there, you’ll be able to look at your GIS data as points in 3D space. You can even manipulate this space, building on it, and potentially planning new projects.

GIS data will stay forever. But it isn’t just automatically converted to data that can be seen and understood. Rather, the raw data that’s recovered from the drone will usually be processed to ensure that it’s accurate. Most companies are not end-to-end data companies; they rely on a third person for their GIS data management. Working with an all-in-one company, such as Landpoint, will often involve fewer issues.

Simulating Topographic Data

A LiDAR survey is one of the fastest, easiest ways to survey any territory. A UAV is uniquely well-suited to the task, flying with precision accuracy and collecting the data at a much higher resolution. LiDAR and drone surveying can be used to simulate and store topographic data, which can then be used for virtually any need. 

GIS data can be used to simulate modifications that are made to the survey area not just now, but decades from now. If the simulated data is kept hosted, it may be able to be used in the future for expansions, teardowns, or repurposing. It can also be used in a variety of different simulated software platforms.

There are other solutions other than LiDAR for topographic mapping. But presently, LiDAR remains the most accurate and feasible solution. 

If you want to learn more about having an unmanned aerial vehicle complete your next LiDAR survey, the time to ask questions is now. Connect with us at Landpoint to find out what we can offer.

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

Why GIS Is Critical to Utility Mapping

When surveying, GIS data can help produce exceptionally useful, exceptionally accurate geographic data. GIS survey data can be used for a variety of activities, ranging from planning pipelines to expanding solar energy farms. Today, we’ll take a look at why GIS is critical to utility mapping.

Using GIS Data for Utility Mapping

GIS data and surveying go hand-in-hand. When drone technology, such as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are used with GIS platforms, it makes it easier for drones to report what they have seen in an easily simulated, easy to read way. Drones are able to record data, via either photogrammetric or LiDAR technology, that the GIS can then map it into a topology.

GIS data is used for a variety of applications, not just surveying. It’s a very useful method of ensuring that all data acquired is correctly fixed in topological space. A GIS platform will be able to bring in survey data, simulations, and projects, all of which can then be imported into the technology being used to build a project.

The type of data still matters. LiDAR remains one of the most accurate methods of collecting GIS. Photogrammetric surveying will produce more human-readable data, but LiDAR can produce more accurate, efficient 3D data. Either way, A GIS system will be able to bring the information in so that it can then be used for utility mapping.

Better Planning for Better Construction

GIS and surveying are complementary, producing accurate scans of geographic data that can then be used for the planning of new developments and projects. Whether natural gas lines are being run or fiber optic internet cables, utility mapping is an important first step. 

With better planning and better decision-making:

  • It will be easier to assess how long a project will take and how much it will cost.
  • Damage to the surrounding environment will be lowered or mitigated.
  • Accurate property lines can be noted, important for handling any potential legal issues.
  • The project will more likely line up to the final desired deliverable.
  • The project will be overall more efficient and predictable.

GIS provides additional data when surveying — data that can be critical to the most thorough planning stages. With this additional data, companies are able to produce advanced simulations and predict the course of the development — from the start. 

And this GIS data is forever. Once the drone has built out the GIS data, it can be accessed by all stakeholders on the team. It can be re-accessed during repairs and updates — and it can be used if there are questions of improving efficiency.

More Efficient Utility Mapping in GIS

GIS data can be used to create more efficient utility services. Through GIS data and simulation technology, companies will be able to see the configuration of a utility network that would work best. They can avoid potential issues, such as areas that cannot be easily traversed, and bake it all into initial planning.

In most large-scale projects such as utilities, it isn’t the initial cost of the project that ends up being the greatest expense. Rather, it’s re-works that are required to be done later. But this also requires that the data that’s collected through the GIS platform be as accurate as possible — a challenge for the surveyor.

Environmental Surveys and Planning

For environmental surveying and planning, GIS provides superior due diligence mapping. With GIS mapping for water utilities, gas lines, GIS for electric utilities, and other forms of utility mapping in GIS, environmental impact can be more reliably predicted. Better data means less disruption to the environment.

Survey data taken with LiDAR and brought into GIS can create a complete topological map, even cutting through thin cloth, bushes, and underbrush. When combined with GIS data, LiDAR provides incredibly accurate information through which to take an environmental survey. The simulations that are produced can show an organization how things like potential flooding, spills, or even noise and light pollution will impact the area.

Simulations, Projections, and Cost Management

For pipeline utility mapping, simulations and projections can be used to estimate the necessary depth of cover (DOC) and other regions. By using simulations and projections, effective cost management can also be achieved. The better the costing, the less likely that the project might experience delays or an overrun.

Once GIS survey data has been uploaded, it can be used for all manner of simulation, both now and into the future. Simulations can be used to ensure that the project is operating on time. Simulations can be used for projected expansion. If additional waterlines are added, how will they impact the existing lines? If additional electric utilities are needed, what will have to be altered?

In the future, this GIS survey data can be used as retained for expansion and modifications, making it an investment in the longevity of the project.

GIS Data for DIMP and Beyond

Accurate GIS data can help organizations build their Distribution Integrity Mapping Program (DIMP) plan, reduce potential environmental impact, and optimize their utility systems for greater levels of efficiency. Organizations can engage in record research in the future and otherwise manage their existing GIS data.

It is always better that utilities be both safe and efficient. GIS data can be used to ensure that the plans for the utilities themselves are as fine-tuned and optimized as it can be. Once construction has been completed, a combination of GIS data and drone technology can be used to regularly investigate the work site and ensure that issues haven’t emerged.

It’s incredibly important that utility mapping be completed with accuracy, especially underground utility mapping. GIS surveying can help. Learn more about the benefits of GIS surveying with Landpoint.


Is Natural Gas “Clean Energy”?

It’s fair to say natural gas can be called “clean energy.” It can also be called cleaner energy. It really depends on your definition. Let’s take a look at how clean and sustainable natural gas really is.

Is natural gas clean energy?

Everyone has a different definition of “clean energy.” Natural gas has been referred to as a clean energy source, but it’s not entirely clean; however, it’s cleaner than many other options, such as coal and oil. By switching to natural gas from coal or oil, many countries would be able to significantly reduce (not eliminate) their emissions. Because natural gas is cleaner, it is often proposed as a compromise between dirty fossil fuels and renewable sources.

The word “clean” is used to denote different things in the energy community. As an example, “clean” coal isn’t truly clean; it’s just cleaner than regular coal. Natural gas would still be cleaner than “clean” coal, which just uses a variety of strategies to capture or store the greenhouse gasses produced.

Renewable sources still have some issues, in terms of adoption and feasibility. There are still adjustments being made in the sustainability of solar panel construction and the improvements necessary to make the technology more efficient. As sustainable energy does take hold, it’s hoped that the use of natural gas will be reduced.

How clean is natural gas?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas is a relatively clean fuel.  Compared to many of the traditional and plentiful alternatives, natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gasses. 

Relativity is important when talking about what energy is “clean” and what energy isn’t. Natural gas produces about half the emissions of coal. It produces about three-quarters of the emissions of oil. But coal produces a lot of emissions. If you compare natural gas to something like wind power, it would not be considered clean. But because there are so many countries and so many power plants still on coal, natural gas is a better alternative to using extremely polluting materials. 

That being said, natural gas is not a renewable resource — which means even though it is cleaner than other types of energy, it’s still not a sustainable energy source. Eventually, different energy sources will need to be used. For now, natural gas is offered as a superior alternative to fuels such as oil and gas.

Is natural gas a bridge to clean energy?

Because natural gas is so plentiful and readily available, it is seen as a more feasible way to reduce emissions. Communities can switch from coal to natural gas, rather than from coal power to hydropower, and experience a significant reduction in pollution.

But it can also be argued that a reliance on natural gas is discouraging truly sustainable adoption. Natural gas still produces more emissions than operating solar power, wind power, or hydropower farms (although, emissions are produced in the development of these technologies).

Whether natural gas is an effective bridge between “dirty energy” and “clean energy” has been controversial. But it’s not debated that natural gas doesproduce far fewer emissions than comparable amounts of coal and oil. 

The bottom line: Natural gas produces more emissions than either solar power or hydropower. Whether you call natural gas “clean” really depends on your definition of clean. But there are a lot of factors that are at play, such as the energy expenditures required to build solar plants or hydro plants. Compared to dirty fuels such as oil and coal, natural gas is absolutely cleaner— which is why many believe it’s a vital intermediate step between dirty fuels and entirely renewable energy sources.