Professional Land Surveying: Then and Now

Like so many other services, professional land surveying has changed greatly over the years, based on the development of new technologies. What makes land surveying unique is its long and complex history, and understanding that history can be important to comprehending the current state of land surveying procedures. Read on for a brief overview of land surveying history, followed by a look at some of the technologies that are driving land surveying into the future.

Ancient Times & The Middle Ages

First of all, it’s noteworthy that land surveying has played an important role in human society for almost as long as there has been human society. According to the History of Land Surveying from Purdue University, the original land surveyors were ancient Egyptians, who needed to create precise and accurate plots of land for the purposes of taxation.

From there, land surveying would go on to play a pivotal role in other great civilizations. According to the German website Vermessungs-Suchmaschine, land surveying enabled many of the feats of engineering that defined the Roman Empire. In order to complete their impressive construction projects, the Romans made many advancements in the field, including the organization of a surveyor’s guild and the introduction of many early surveying instruments.

Like many other fields of study, land surveying languished in Europe during the Middle Ages, with very few new developments occurring during this time. The Domesday Book, created in 1086 in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of England, was one impressive example of a land surveying project during the Middle Ages. However, the level of accuracy provided by the document certainly does not live up to modern standards.

Colonial Times

During the colonial era, European powers like France and Great Britain needed detailed maps to back up their land claims in the New World. This fact led to the development of new, more advanced surveying techniques. Coincidentally, it also led to the career of perhaps the world’s most well-known historical surveyor: George Washington. Before he became a military and political leader in the early United States, young George Washington got his start as a land surveyor in western Virginia.

Professional Land Surveying Today

Land surveying has certainly come a long way over the years, and today’s surveyors are able to work with technologies that those coming before them could only have dreamed of. This is not to suggest that today’s land surveyors are better or more capable than those of the past; they merely have a more advanced tool set, which allows them to create more accurate results.

Land surveying has played a pivotal role throughout history, and the technology and techniques land surveyors use have always been influenced by what’s going on in the world as a whole. Whether it’s collecting taxes, building roads and aqueducts, or pushing west into an unknown continent, land surveyors have always found ways to meet the needs of their employers, and things are no different today.

With land values at all-time highs, and growing concerns over sustainable building practices, today’s land surveyors are under a lot of pressure to work both quickly and accurately. That’s why they’ve come to rely on technologies like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), 3D Laser Scanning, and GIS.

UAVs, commonly known as drones allow land surveyors to operate from above, quickly gathering large amounts of information at a very high level of detail. This data can then be used to create multiple types of deliverables such as point clouds, digital elevation models, and othro imagery.

With 3D laser scanning, land surveyors are able to track the path of a series of laser points as they leave and return to the scanner. Surveyors are then able to put together very accurate 3D models as this technology is one of the easiest ways to get a detailed look of an area.

Http iframes are not shown in https pages in many major browsers. Please read this post for details.

Finally, GIS mapping technology allows land surveyors to conduct more detailed data analysis by creating a visual representation of spatial relationships. This makes it easier for surveyors to make good decisions about where to conduct projects.

Final Thoughts

Today’s professional land surveyors are able to complete work that would never have been possible in the past, which is why you’ll want to make sure you’re working with a surveyor that knows how to make the most of the latest technologies available to them.

Contact Landpoint today to learn more.

Image Source: Bureau of Land Management


Is It Time To Consider Another Professional Land Surveying Company?

Oil and Gas ProjectsLoyalty between business partners is an admirable trait. Businesses depend on customer loyalty and the benefit to stable trading partners extends in both directions and usually result in a mutually beneficial relationship. One business provides a service that is important to the other while maintaining a high level of customer service. However, when times change and new technologies and practices emerge, if a professional land surveying company isn’t keeping up with it then it’s their clients who suffer.

When Technology and Services Change Significantly, It’s Time to Reevaluate the Status Quo

The standard technology for geodetic surveying was established in 1787 with the introduction of the Ramsden theodolite, and many land surveying companies – especially older land surveying companies – still use modified versions of the theodolite today as their primary means for data collection. A professional land surveying company that is still using this as their default method of surveying is generally not providing the best results for their clients.

When the satellite-based Global Positioning System became fully operational in 1995, surveying changed significantly. Unlike ground-based data collection with theodolites, GPS data collection does not require line of sight visibility between measuring points. Professional land surveying no longer requires trekking to difficult locations to set up tripods. GPS measurements yield 3-D coordinates with high geodetic accuracy, and data can be collected around the clock without regard to weather. GPS surveys aren’t necessarily better than those made with conventional equipment, but they can often be completed more quickly. Graphic Information Systems took GPS land surveying data to another level by changing the way data is stored, retrieved and shared. Spatial coordinates and map features are stored as spatial data and can be organized into various map layers with common features. A survey is no longer just a paper map with line drawings of roads, easements and power lines. It becomes a collection of data layers that can be peeled back or added as desired.

Additional information, called attributes, can be linked to the spatial data to give maps tremendous new abilities. Population demographics, political districts, school districts, fire districts and census data are all examples of attributes that are easily linked to spatial data. Maps can now be customized in amazing new ways.

Many professional land surveying companies began using new GPS/GIS technology as soon as it had been proven accurate and reliable. Others felt that transit theodolites were sufficient for the work they were asked to perform and saw no reason to change.

What Are Your Needs?

Both technologies work extremely well. Each has benefits in certain applications. For example, GPS surveys require an unobstructed view of the sky to receive satellite signals. They cannot be used underground, and mine surveys rely on theodolites. Mapping mountain ranges requires strenuous and dangerous climbing, and GPS mapping is both safer and convenient. The majority of applications, however, can be performed equally well by both technologies.

The deciding factor is often how the data is to be handled. Energy companies are a good example of a business sector that often has a long-standing relationships with a professional surveying company. They continue to do business with the associated surveying company even though they know newer technology is available.

So is the company losing opportunities because of these long-standing relationships? The answers depend on the level of service being provided and the company’s goals for using the data.

Long term business relationships can lead to complacency. Long turnaround times become viewed as just a normal facet of the business when, in fact, GPS surveying can usually be completed much more quickly than standard theodolite surveying. Is time valuable to the project? In most cases, it is.

Surveyors may have been providing standard paper surveys for decades, and these may have been sufficient for the needs of the company in the past. They may still be. But today businesses have to ask questions like “could the company benefit by knowing the demographics of the areas in which gas drilling or wind turbine construction is predicted to grow?” Companies should ask whether there are additional data needs or not.

Is The Status Quo Good Enough For Your Company?

There’s a lot to be said for company loyalty. There’s also a lot to be said in favor of growing and adapting to new business opportunities. Don’t be afraid to consider a new professional land surveying partner, especially if old relationships have grown stale.

If you are looking for a change then Landpoint can help. Get a quote today and see how we can save your company both time and money.

What to Look for in a Land Surveying Company

survey resized 600Choosing the best professional land surveying company up front can save you time, money, worries and potential legal problems down the road. The highly complex and technical work done by land surveying services is the foundation upon which your project will be built, making it imperative that you choose a professional, reputable company. Here are three quick tips to assist in making the right choice.

  1. Sophistication is key.

    Land surveying requires a very specific skill set and complex technologies. Choose a company that uses the most advanced surveying equipment to ensure accuracy. The traditional transit and tape method is surpassed by electronic distance and angle measuring equipment combined with global positioning systems, and these tools result in efficient, accurate and cost-effective land surveys.

    Sophistication goes beyond just the hardware that is used. Select a company that offers a wide range of services, thoughtful integration between services and extensive record management to meet your future needs.

  2. Recommendations and awards matter.

    All land surveyors in the United States must be licensed, but there is still plenty of variation in the level of services provided. A license alone does not guarantee professional land surveying services, just as a driver’s license does not make every driver a pro racer. Choose a reputable land surveying company you can trust by asking other professionals for recommendations. Look for an award-winning company with a proven history of providing accurate services and exceeding customer expectations.

    Land surveying services are a considerable investment, and choosing a company out of the yellow pages or based on an advertisement is not recommended. Protect your investment and get your project started off on the right foot by only choosing a company with outstanding recommendations and a history of award-winning work.

  3. Consider cost, but not too much.

    It may be tempting to go with the cheapest estimate you receive, but the adage “you get what you pay for” rings especially true for the land surveying industry. Cheaper surveys can lead to costly long-term errors, so if you opt to pay less now, you may pay far more later.

    As you consider cost, keep in mind that survey estimates vary according to many factors, including the location, terrain, size of parcel, type of survey, accessibility, time of year, vegetation, level of detail required and other details. To get an accurate estimate, you must meet with a professional surveyor to discuss your specific needs.

    Use this criteria to narrow down your list of options, then meet with each company to discuss what solutions they can provide for you.


    Landpoint, Inc. is a professional land surveying company that excels and prides itself in creating unique solutions and processes for our expanding client base. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative land surveying services.