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