Aerial Mapping Surveying: What Technologies Are Available?

From assessing real estate to creating maps for defense organizations, aerial mapping surveying has a variety of uses and applications. In the past, fulfilling an aerial mapping need often required finding a company that specialized singularly in that need. But today, thanks to the advent of laser surveying, many companies that offer aerial mapping offer a variety of aerial surveying services, particularly when laser scanning is their core practice. Industries that aerial mapping services commonly serve are: construction, natural and historical preservation, the real estate industry, and the military.

When companies experience laser scanning needs, they sometimes buy their own scanning equipment. But becoming your own aerial surveyor adds the cost of flight equipment to the already high cost of scanners, not to mention the cost of training required to operate both. Consequently, many companies hire a professional surveying company that offers laser scanning technology. Below, we examine the technologies offered by top aerial mapping companies.

Essential Mapping Surveying Services

1. LIDAR Technology

LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology measures the characteristics of scattered light to determine a range of topographical features. More specifically, LIDAR typically consists of using a time-of-flight scanner, which uses a laser rangefinder to measure the roundtrip of a laser from the scanner to a distant scanning subject and back. As one would expect, time-of-flight scanning doesn’t excel at gathering infinitesimal data, hence its use in measuring subject matter such as buildings and large objects, expansive terrains, and distant topography. LIDAR is commonly used for meteorology, geology, physics, biology, astronomy, conservation, the military, and law enforcement.

2. High Accuracy Digital terrain Modeling

Also known as digital elevation modeling (DEM), high accuracy digital terrain modeling can be accomplished using numerous technologies, not all of which are typically offered by a single surveying company: inertial surveying, Real Time GPS, stereo photogrammetry, Doppler radar, and LIDAR. In the past, digital terrain surveying was performed by measuring terrain form a ground position; a time consuming process that usually yields less accurate results than using one of the above technologies from an aerial position. High accuracy digital terrain modeling is used for the following purposes, among others: geographic and geomorphic terrain analysis, precision farming, precision forestry, relief mapping, and line of sight analysis.

3. LAMP Digital Photography

LAMP (Low Altitude Mapping Photography) doesn’t subsist on laser technology. It uses digital cameras to capture images of structures and terrains from low altitude, usually at around 300 feet above ground level. In addition to being used in the real estate industry to present and assess property, LAMP digital photography is regularly used for the following purposes, among others: road planning, power line patrolling, pipeline patrolling, natural conservation, and parks planning.