Aerial LiDAR Scans Are Just the Beginning of a Survey

As Dustin Price, Operations Manager at Landpoint explains in this guest blog post collecting the aerial lidar scans is just the first step in the surveying process.

Image of drone Aerial Lidar Scans

Aerial Lidar Scans

A survey is about more than just scanning: it’s also about data processing and data management. Your survey isn’t over once your aerial LiDAR scans have been completed. In fact, it’s after the aerial LiDAR scans have been completed that many surveying companies will distinguish themselves among the competition.

Aerial LiDAR involves a large amount of data, which has to be analyzed, processed, and stored. Different companies have different methods of processing and storing this information, which may make a difference regarding how fast, affordable, and easy your survey ultimately is.

The Full Process of a Land Survey

An aerial LiDAR scan is only the beginning of the survey process. An aerial drone will fly over the requested area, using high precision lasers to identify differences in elevation. These high precision lasers are able to map a surface with an extremely high resolution.

Until they are otherwise processed, these maps are stored in the form of complex topological data, which is expressed through data points. However, these data points still need to be analyzed through a software solution like Autodesk or Esri, which will generate a map based on the data that has been acquired. Data correction and smoothing may be required and multiple sets of data may need to be combined.

Some companies outsource their data analysis and storage. At this point, a third-party company would receive this map data and it would be their job to analyze it and produce maps for it. The survey may need to wait until the third-party company is finished with this analysis. Other companies provide complete end-to-end LiDAR services.

Once the land survey data has been fully analyzed, maps will be produced based on the information. With pure aerial LiDAR scanning, maps will be produced solely based on the laser scans. With a combination of photogrammetric scanning and LiDAR scanning, the maps will also be textured based on photographs taken of the terrain. Either way, the maps are designed to be clear and easy to read, and the maps will be able to show even topological structures that would otherwise be obscured by bramble, wires, and brush. Following map production, the map and any other survey data is ready to be distributed and used by the construction team.

The Benefits of an End-to-End Survey Solution

An end-to-end survey solution completes a survey from start to finish, beginning with the production of data through aerial LiDAR scans. Once the scans have been completed, the data will be processed — and then the data will be made available through the cloud. There are numerous advantages to an end-to-end survey:

  • Fewer delays. Your survey company doesn’t need to rely upon third-party data analysis and storage; instead, all of the data is returned quickly following the survey.
  • Better support. As you are only working with a single company throughout the process, you only have a single point-of-contact who is able to take care of every element for you.
  • Lower costs. By completing the entirety of the survey with one provider, you typically see a reduction in the overall survey costs.
  • Better accuracy. Data doesn’t need to change hands, instead going through a workflow that is designed to retain as much of the original information as possible. Otherwise the data may need to be imported and exported multiple times, potentially losing fidelity.

Once an end-to-end survey solution has collected your data, it can be accessed from any platform, by any of your team members. Team members will be able to review survey results together and will be able to move forward with their project data however is desired. Data can be exported for processes such as creating simulations or producing client updates.

As you can see, a land surveying can be quite involved. Despite this, a professional, end-to-end aerial LiDAR service can complete most surveys within 24 hours — while other survey companies may need to take much longer.

Photo of Dustin Price

Dustin Price

Author – Dustin Price

Dustin Price is a licensed land surveyor and the operations manager at Landpoint. He leads the company in determining the technical approach for delivering professional, tailored surveying services through UAV technology.

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