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A High Tech Industry

Surveying is a high tech profession

In the past surveyors have used relatively simple technologies. That has now all changed.

The theodolite has been regarded as the symbol of a surveyor. It has now developed to become a total station, capable of doing its own calculations, storing the data collected, and measuring distances as well as angles. Some are even robotic; they don’t require an operator near them. The humble dumpy level’s modern equivalent s a digital level that automatically reads a specially calibrated staff. Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) has replaced hand drawing

Impressive as they are, these are merely developments along a traditional theme. Today’s surveyors use exciting new technologies.

GPS, a satellite based position system, has come of age. Surveyors use if for everything from large subdivisions to measuring Australia’s continental drift. New and better satellites are becoming available, and new constellations of satellites are planned. The general public is also using GPS, and the surveyor’s knowledge and skills are of great value in explaining the application of this technology.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are computer systems that turn spatial data into information. This is also mature technology. Surveyors supply the data for these systems, and also operate and manage them.

Surveyors often get key information such as survey mark information, titles, and GPS base station data from the Web. Use of the Web by surveyors is increasing.

And technology continues to produce exciting new developments.

Scanning technology collects millions of points and uses them to build computer models of complex objects. Used on the ground, this technology is finding application in producing models of objects such as building facades or oil distilleries. Used from an aeroplane, it can produce Digital Elevation Models (DEM), provide estimates of biomass or measure the ground clearance of power lines.

Satellites are producing better quality images with resolutions now of about 1 metre. These provide the opportunity to more effectively carry out current tasks, or to do things that could not previously be done.

Acronyms such as WAP and phases such as "location based services" are now emerging. The surveyor has a role in these areas. What it will be is up to us to define. However, surveyors will continue to encounter exciting new technological opportunities.


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