The importance of Surveyors managing spatial datasets

In past years, UAV and Laser Scanning has become an increasingly popular method for capturing detailed data for a variety of industries. However, to ensure that the data collected is accurate and useful, it is crucial that the spatial datasets that are derived from these techniques have qualified Surveyors involved to oversee the process. Below I will talk about the importance of using qualified surveyors to ensure the datasets maintain spatial integrity and how the data fits within the local survey network.

Surveyors bring expertise and experience to the table. They have been trained to collect, analyse, and interpret spatial data and they have a thorough understanding of the principles and methods involved in surveying.

With recent articles stating the impact the shortfall in Surveyors in Australia, a variety of industries are accepting what they believe to be survey grade datasets that are not captured or checked by a qualified Surveyor.

Survey grade datasets refer to data that is collected through recognised procedures and is of a high quality, with well-defined sampling methodologies and rigorous data collection processes. These datasets are often used by a multitude of industries that rely on accurate information to make informed design decisions.

These datasets should not be collected and distributed by people who are not qualified and this practice is happening more frequently as emerging technology offers industries a ‘anyone can do it’ approach to reduce survey costs up front, but can cost significantly more if if the dataset is not captured, managed and checked by Surveyors.

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Scanning the underside of a bridge

A study conducted by Autodesk in 2022 showed that bad datasets cost contractors $1.8 billion globally and highlighted the effects of “bad data” as being defined as incomplete, inaccurate, or inconsistent.

Surveyors’ expertise is essential when it comes spatial datasets because surveyors can identify potential errors and ensure that the data collected is accurate and reliable for its intended use.

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Placing Survey GCPs for a UAV Survey

All UAV and Scanning processing suites are now capable of producing QA reports relating to how well the dataset relates to the GCPs (Ground Control Points). But as the client how do you know if the data is true between GCPs? Who placed the GCPs? What survey equipment did they use? What did they check onto to ensure their equipment is measuring correctly?

One technique used by Surveyors is ground proofing the datasets which is a process of verifying and validating lidar/ photogrammetry data or other geospatial data by conducting on-site field observations and measurements.

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GPR Example

It involves collecting ground truth data to confirm the accuracy of the dataset being used by our clients.

A Ground Proofing Report (GPR) is generated which shows the check measurements as it relates to the surface created by the point cloud. As part of our QA process no datasets leave the office without a GPP being signed off by a Surveyor.

Additionally, Surveyors can provide guidance on the best methods for collecting data based on the project’s goals and requirements. They can help determine the appropriate drone, camera, and specific survey equipment needed to capture the necessary data accurately.

Furthermore, Surveyors can help to ensure that the data collected is legally defensible. They ensure that the data collected meets the required standards.

In summary, the importance of using a qualified Surveyor for collecting spatial data cannot be overstated. A Surveyor brings a level of expertise and experience that is crucial in ensuring that the data collected is accurate, reliable and repeatable.