“I invite all Americans to look back at the historic contributions of surveying and look ahead to the new technologies which are constantly modernizing this honored and learned profession,” said President Ronald Reagan when he designated a week to honor surveyors and their role in the expansion of America, according to the American Surveyor.
This week, we are taking a tip from Reagan and recognizing the important work surveyors and geospatial professionals do each day. These professionals include land and cadastral surveyors, engineering, mining and hydrographic surveyors, geospatial scientists and engineers, remote sensing professionals and others. We’ve also got an eye on the technology that’s helping them do more, including providing more insightful deliverables to general contractors, civil engineering and construction teams, designers, business owners and key project stakeholders.
Here are 3 key technology trends that our friends at the American Surveyor believe will drive the geospatial industry forward over the next few years.
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Sensor fusion is one of the leading edges of product development because of the power that comes from combining multiple different sensor types or technologies in ways that maximize their combined strengths while minimizing their combined weaknesses. The fusion of sensor technologies to include more IMUs, GNSS and emerging technologies like Solid State LiDAR and SLAM processing is making it possible to merge multiple disciplines of mass geospatial data capture into one seamless routine.
Mobile mapping systems are one example. They combine the various strengths and weaknesses of different types of sensors—inertial (IMU), wheel speed, GNSS, cameras and LiDAR—and fuse these sensor outputs, achieving greater levels of accuracy and detail for engineering operations and design.
Having different types of sensor data can be extremely powerful, but even more beneficial is fusing that data for analysis and decision making. Supported by the right software, sensor fusion is about getting the most out of various sensors and sensor combinations to solve business problems.
This technology integration will remain a growing trend in the surveyor community as more geospatial professionals take advantage of unique sensor combinations purpose-built to help provide better geospatial context.
Modeling and Visualization
Geospatial data—such as point clouds, complex meshes and terrain models—are often difficult to explain and deliver to clients. The use of augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) tools will increase in the next several years to improve understanding of existing site conditions by overlaying models over the existing environment. For example, a user of augmented reality technology could view existing underground services and future landscapes overlaid on a worksite to avoid hitting a utility line during excavation work. Other benefits include collaboration, planning and asset management. Organizations that can offer this functionality to their customers will have an edge on the competition.
3D Modeling, BIM
The design and construction industry is at a tipping point in which BIM (Building Information Modeling) can positively impact geospatial professionals’ work the more they embrace it. However, prospective BIM adopters need to realize the technology not only provides intelligent 3D modeling, but it also offers a centralized platform for sharing data to help partners communicate effectively – in real-time. When surveyors take advantage of BIM holistically, they are not only factoring in the traditional aspects of a building’s design but also generating rich data spanning the range of properties of a structure’s components, construction and maintenance.
The challenge with BIM adoption is not just to encourage surveyors to use newer technologies, but rather to convince them to start seeing it as a paradigm shift in the design and build process altogether. At its core, BIM is meant to transform how project teams work together on a job, from start to finish.