GeoPoint Surveying Produces When Called Upon
Jack Geier wears a number of hats – UAS Pilot, Remote Sensing Tech and GIS Analyst – for GeoPoint Surveying, Inc., headquarted in Tampa, Florida. GeoPoint Surveying can trace its origin back to 1943 when they had a makeshift office in a garage at the Tampa home of Dick Merrin. The need for surveying services was being generated by an influx of military personnel at MacDill AFB and Drew Field during World War II.
From these humble beginnings, GeoPoint has collected over 100 years of Florida survey records and in the process, has grown to become one of the leading land surveying and mapping firms in Central Florida with offices in Tampa, Orlando and West Palm Beach. Today, the firm has over 150 employees who apply the latest in 3D technology to solve customer’s problems in the municipal, industrial and commercial arenas.
One of these team members is Jack Geier. Jack began his career in 3D laser scanning at the University of South Florida IDEx – Institute for Digital Exploration. This is where he developed his foundation in 3D mapping and digitization.
Jack started his career with GeoPoint Surveying in the summer of 2017 and began building his knowledge of traditional land surveying. He explained, “After a year or so of drafting ALTA’s, plats and other types of surveys, I resumed my work in the laser scanning world. Soon after, GeoPoint Surveying opened a Subsurface Utilities Exploration (SUE) department. This in turn, has created a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) department which I am now the head of.”
Investing in Technology
In order to meet the needs of their clients, while keeping pace with the changes taking place in the geomatics industry, GeoPoint Surveying is continually investing in the latest 3D technology. This includes
GNSS base stations with rovers for ground control, a VAPOR 55 drone with a RIEGL VUX-1LR Long Range airborne lidar sensor and just recently, the RIEGL VZ-2000i with vehicle rack mount.
The RIEGL VUX-1LR is a very lightweight, compact lidar sensor designed specifically for airborne surveying missions from a helicopter or UAS. When combined with the VAPOR 55 copter, GeoPoint Surveying has a highly capable, cost effective UAS platform.
The RIEGL VZ-2000i also has long range capabilities, as well as the latest waveform processing lidar technology. The optional vehicle rack mount allows the VZ-2000i to be used as a stop and go mobile scanning platform.
On the software front, GeoPoint is a mixed shop with both Microstation and AutoCAD for drafting and RIEGL’s RiSCAN PRO for point cloud processing, as well as TopoDOT and other specialized 3D data manipulation applications. They use ArcGIS Pro & ArcGIS online for GIS deliverables.
Jack commented, “We are integrating our 3D data collection platforms with our CAD, GIS and point cloud processing applications to deliver custom tailored results that solve our customer’s problems in a highly cost effective manner.”
When asked about their decision to invest in RIEGL products, Jack explained, “We were attracted to RIEGL’s superior quality in sensor design and workflow administration. We did look at some of the competitors but chose the RIEGL VZ-2000i because we were very satisfied with the VUX-1LR and wanted to carry on the tradition of providing high grade survey data at GeoPoint Surveying.
Processing the data for a typical topographic, 3D laser scanning project begins with downloading the data in the office so that a markup of the project showing the location of the needed QC control points can be provided to a field crew. Jack explained, “We then process the terrestrial data using RiSCAN’s Automatic Registration 2 for registration and Multistation Adjustment 2 (sometimes Multistation Adjustment is necessary) for further registration and georeferencing. We then filter, colorize and export the point cloud out of RiSCAN Pro.
From there, the data is imported into TerraSolid’s Terrascan using Microstation and an “output control report” is run using the QC shots that were collected in the field. Once the point cloud checks out, we use TopoDOT to extract hard surface features (edge of pavement, back of curb, centerline of road etc.) and breakline the rest as needed, manually. Once feature lines are drawn or extracted, a TIN surface is created in AutoCAD Civil 3D. Once the Civil 3D surface looks good, one more QC analysis is run and the project is considered complete.”
Jack provided a brief overview of the following three projects to provide additional insights on the benefits of using 3D laser scanning.
Block C– “The Block C on Water Street project brought up some unique challenges that we were never faced with before. It was around lunch time when we got the call to go scan, so we had very little time for project planning and the client needed the data ASAP. A second challenge was the required accuracy of a tenth of a foot. We learned a lot about the use of 3D laser scanning for civil engineering/ structural analysis on this project.”
Happy Hill- “This was one of the first projects that came up after we purchased the RIEGL VZ-2000i. There was a debate over which system should be used – tripod or UAS. We finally settled on the Vapor 55 & VUX-1LR combo. We were concerned about the safety of our field crew climbing up very steep hills so we went with the UAS. Overall, we got a much more complete dataset while taking a quarter of the amount of time that a field crew using the tripod scanner would have taken.”
Watersound- “Watersound was great because there were no real challenges that arose. Everything went according to plan. We were able to configure an RTK setup on our Phantom 4 drone and that helped a lot when creating an orthomosaic due to the large tree coverage of the site. Without the use of the VUX-1LR and Vapor 55 combo, it would have taken the field crews 4-6 months to topo versus the 3-5 weeks it took us using UAV LiDAR.’
Jack says he can see a lot of automation coming. However, he thinks there will always be a need for skilled LiDAR techs to manage these systems and keep everything running smoothly. Robots are not going to replace the skilled 3D survey professional any time soon, and they are certainly not going to be able to analyze survey records from the past 100 years.
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