Everyone likes easy. That’s why Staples came out with the “Easy Button” years ago. Making a task easier is something that everyone looks for in their work and everyday life. When it comes to land surveying, the fundamental elements of the practice have not changed much since the ancient times, but how surveyors perform their job has become a blend of old and new.
The survey team at Fuss & O’Neill encounters challenges on every project, often dictated by the terrain or conditions of their New England site. Some of our survey professionals have been doing this for more than 30 years, and they harken back to the days of using transit or theodolite and steel tape to record measurements, jotting them down by hand, and then logging them either manually or electronically (if they had that option). At the time, this was the most precise measurements could get, and projects would require multiple people to set the equipment and take the measurements.
Since the 1980s, technology has evolved vastly in the land surveying profession, starting with theodolite-mounted electronic distance measuring (EDM) tools, which were sort of like televisions in the sense that few people had them and they were expensive; but now, they are easy to acquire and everyone has total stations with the EDMs built in. These tools made life more efficient for surveyors as they wouldn’t require a third person on site, and jobs could be completed quickly. The total stations are often set up and linked with data collectors so that recorded measurements can then be exported digitally, ensuring timeliness and accuracy.
In some measuring tools, lasers have overtaken ultrasonic beams, with accuracy being the main driver. Many survey crews also now use robots to essentially allow one person to set up at one point and then control the robot, or TS (total station) via remote control to capture the points needed.
Global positioning systems (GPS) have also been a game changer when it comes to efficiency for land surveyors. GPS helps limit the points that surveyors may have to physically climb or reach and the use of satellite makes line-of-sight unnecessary. GPS helped our survey staff tremendously during a project for mapping in Manchester, NH where we needed to map out 80 aerial target points across the city. Without GPS or these technologies, this type of project could have taken as long as six months to complete, using the labor of multiple staff; however, because of advancements within the industry, the project was completed by minimal staff in only one week.
With all the advancements in the industry over recent years, one might ask, what does the future for land surveying hold? Unfortunately there won’t but a cure-all “Easy Button,” but you can come back Friday for some of our thoughts.
Meet the Team
Greg Brown, LLS, PLS is a licensed land surveyor in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Greg has been with the company for more than 30 years and heads the New Hampshire Survey Department. When away from work, Greg enjoys vacationing in the Caribbean, working on home improvement projects, KISS concerts, and building/operating radio-controlled vehicles.
Alex Carson has been with Fuss & O’Neill for 4 years, but brings more than an additional decade of his experience to role as Senior Survey Technician. In his spare time, Alex enjoys skiing, spending time with his nephew, and guessing the ending to GOT.