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Geospatial from the Ground and Up at Record Speeds Presented by Duffy Haggarty and Pat Gaylord

DEA’s Duffy Haggarty and Pat Gaylord took the virtual floor at a recent American Public Works Association (APWA) Oregon Conference, sharing how clients and consultants benefit from advancements in modern survey technology that transform design and decision-making processes.

With survey technology ever evolving, the key is to determine which of the many options truly suits the client’s needs and project’s goals. Today’s technology allows fewer on-site operators to collect more data from safer collection locations. Thanks to cutting-edge survey technology, our teams achieve results that weren’t possible with traditional equipment only a few years ago.

3D Laser Scanning

For example, a conventional method for collecting data uses GPS and total station survey equipment to capture a 25-foot grid of data and produce 2D vectorized surfaces. However, today’s evolved technology meets the need for more data, collected quicker, in greater detail. Three-dimensional laser scanning (LiDAR) is able to collect millions of data points. This means better data, better designs, and better results for clients, including 3D plan sets. Laser scanning allows our team to produce vectorize points cloud files with the ability to use elevation extraction tools and add those points to cross-sections. We can then take a snippet of the ground elevation in between cross-sections to develop a more accurate 3D model of existing conditions. DEA is also innovative with respect to machine control, and our machines are intelligent enough to produce more precise survey models for more accurate construction.

In the early days of 3D laser scanning, one stationery scanner would sit atop a tripod and collect information available from that limited location. Afterwards, the operator would pack up and move to the next location, needing up to a day to complete an area of scans. Two decades later, survey professionals use mobile mapping and high-speed stationary scanners. Building on the tri-pod scanner approach early on, this cutting-edge application involves a scanner mounted on a vehicle capable of traveling at highway speeds while collecting one million points per second. This method exponentially increases the amount of highly detailed data. The technology aids in the mapping of corridors and city blocks, keeping the operator safe and allowing access to better data, as it saves hours of time and reduces costs.

Depending on the needs of a project, this incredible amount of available data allows survey professionals to deliver highly detailed plan sets in 3D or to combine the point cloud data together into an overall 3D representation of the model allowing you to traverse through a project site, displayed in amazing detail. This method is especially effective when working on bridge projects. Another application for this technology is vault scanning where the scanner is inverted and lowered underground through a manhole to collect underground data without penetrating the roadway.

Small Unmanned Aerial System

The latest and perhaps most exciting technology, a small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS), provides a new perspective from the sky. DEA’s remote pilots use a predeveloped flight plan and standard position to operate within FAA regulations. We perform pre-flight planning with FAA and obtain COA authorization to fly specific areas and in unique situations. When in flight, the sUAS drone performs a typical grid, 300 feet over the project site, to collect up to 50-megapixel photos that are stitched together to prepare 3D ortho photos. We can also apply ground control to match project datums. sUAS greatly improves crew and public safety and is very quick, in some instances mapping over 20 acres in just a few hours.

Our survey team’s goal is to apply the right technology, to collect the right data, in a manner that is best suited to the project and meets the client’s needs. Access to our toolbox of technology allows us to achieve the goal and present the results in a number of outputs. DEA is committed to delivering results that meet the ever-increasing demands for efficiency and safety.

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