The word “privilege” is a term often heard that refers to an advantage or benefit enjoyed by a particular person or group of people.  

As I sit in my computer chair, analyzing a client’s property that contains a high-resolution drone image combined with a lidar point cloud surface, I feel very privileged to create plans in our current land surveying profession.    

Our company prides itself on learning and utilizing the newest and most accurate technology in the land surveying profession. Recently we have had the privilege of acquiring a large DJI Matrice 300 RTK drone carrying a LIDAR sensor that allows us to quickly collect field data with precision limits right around 4 inches horizontally and 2 inches vertically. This advantage can greatly decrease the amount of time we have field crews on-site and allows more time for drafters to complete a project in the office. This is quite remarkable, knowing that only a few decades ago, things were not quite the same.

It was not long ago that we had the painstaking days of recording every shot in field books. This required the note-taker to write down for every point:

  • the point’s number; 
  • the point’s description; 
  • the horizontal angle read on the transit;  
  • the vertical angle read on the transit; 
  • the slope distance from the transit to the point which was measured with either a steel tape, or by stadia; 

On an exceptionally good day, a crew might record 200 shots. God help the note-taker who didn’t bring an extra pencil in case he dropped the first one!

This doesn’t sound too bad until you realize some sites require thousands of field points. Back in the office, the surveyors then had to reduce the notes and apply the laws of trigonometry to calculate the horizontal distance, vertical distance, and subsequent elevation of each point. These points were then hand plotted on a large sheet of paper using a protractor and a scale.

These days, more and more data can be collected using this modern technology. The new LIDAR system collects 80 pulses per square meter without a single person laying a foot on the ground. This is not completely true, but this new equipment’s precision and time-saving benefit give us an advantage over our competitors.