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What Is Land Surveying and Why Is It Important?

Posted In Industrial & Technology - By Techtiplib on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 With No Comments »

Ever looked at a map, and wondered how the distance from one place to another was so precisely determined? Ever walked the distance between one property to another, and thought about how the boundaries between them were established. Who measures the distances between several points on an area of land, and declares who it will belong to?

Land Surveying

All of these questions are pertinent to a field of work called land surveying. Land surveying can be defined as the science and process of precisely establishing the position of points on land for the purpose of mapping the surrounding environment and determining boundaries. The licensed professionals who carry out the duty of land surveying are called land surveyors, and they work closely with a number of other professionals, including those in fields like civil engineering, construction, transportation, cartography, urban and regional planning, architecture, mining, and cadaster recording. It’s an immersive type of work that requires precision, mastery of specialized technologies, and close collaboration amongst industry partners.

To help you learn more about this profession, here’s a short briefer about what land surveyors do, what modern methods are currently employed in land surveying, and the impact land surveying makes on other sectors—as well as on your everyday life.

The Role and Methods of a Land Surveyor 

A land surveyor takes on the tasks of measuring the distance and angles between chosen points on the earth’s surface, traveling to verify their location, and noting down the important physical attributes that distinguish those points. The land surveyor also typically has survey records, land titles, and data from previous boundary lines at their disposal.

Land surveyors use a specialized array of equipment and technologies. Most notably, they use the total station or total station theodolite, an optical and electronic instrument that measures the sloping distance of an object to the instrument. Total stations can operate using the electro-optical distance metering method of discharging a laser beam to a target on the land surface and detecting the light that reflects off of it. Miniature motors in total stations enable precise control of the instrument’s beam strength and the filtration of the reflected light, all while driving the total station through long operation cycles even in challenging environments.

The land surveyor then records and analyzes the data collected, drafts maps and reports, and presents their findings to their collaborators, be they from private entities or government agencies. These surveys aid in determining the official land or water boundaries for legal documents such as deeds and leases. The information is used to mark the location of legal property lines, and is thus indispensable in situations like property ownership disputes, or simply in keeping cadaster records—the records establishing the extent, value, and ownership of land for the purpose of taxation.

Applications of Land Surveying to Its Partner Fields

The applications of land surveying are notably diverse, and land surveyors work hand in hand with civil engineers, developers, architects, mapmakers, realtors, and other professionals. This is because the information collected from land surveys are crucial to decision making in any industry that engages with land and property.

Within the field of land surveying alone, there are several areas of expertise. Engineering or construction surveyors gather measurements for building foundations and help determine what the restrictions might be for a developing project. Geodetic surveyors, on the other hand, work toward a macro-view of large areas of the earth’s surface, while marine or hydrographic surveyors measure bodies of water to determine boundaries like shorelines. There is even an area of expertise particularly for forensic surveyors, who gather information that are typically required for matters of the law like civil and personal injury litigations, as well as criminal cases.

So, the next time you’re signing a lease for a property, paying real estate taxes, or doing the simple act of using a map to take you from city to city, remember the hardworking surveyors who make life easy for you. We’re only able to begin imagining the built environments we create because of them.

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