Published in UDIA Queensland – Establish Magazine, Winter Edition 2018.

The days of surveyors delivering detail surveys as just a 2D plan are gone. The push for, and growing adoption of BIM in the AEC industry has persuaded consultants to think in a 3D context.

In recent years most leading survey companies have invested into some sort of reality capture solution. A point cloud survey has often been a value add service that was generally looked past by most consultants. This could have been due to the cost of laser scanning, computing limitations or lack of understanding.

Today, the costs of laser scanning has reduced, computers are becoming more and more powerful, and the software is more accessible and intuitive. It’s for these reasons that the expectation for existing site condition survey deliverables in the AEC industry have and will continue to change.

It’s not just about surveyors delivering point clouds. ”Scan to BIM” is the trendy phrase at the moment for laser scanning and the subsequent generation of BIM ready models. Leading survey firms are not only completing laser scanning surveys but they are also modelling structures, aboveground services and subsurface utilities to generate BIM ready survey information models. A survey information model is on project datum and includes the relationship to real world coordinates and the cadastral property boundaries.

The spatial data that surveyors are capturing is only getting richer and because of this the possibilities for utilisation are forever growing. Laser scan data is excellent for spatial documentation, heritage applications and can be analysed to communicate movement and deformation using heat maps. In addition to laser scanning, the other growing reality capture technology is aerial and terrestrial photogrammetry. Often utilised with RPAs / drones, photogrammetry provides spatial information in many diverse ways including photo realistic models, DSMs, orthographic photography and photogrammetrically derived point clouds.

The expectation from Architects and Engineers has changed and the request for rich spatial solutions at the front end of a project is becoming the new standard. Consultants and designers in AEC who are equipped with comprehensive survey information models are able to better understand and contextualize the sometimes complex spatial interrelationships on their sites. This subsequently allows them to plan and design outcomes with a higher degree of confidence which results in less redesign and costly clashes in the construction phase of a project. Surveyors are here to provide solutions to complex problems.

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