While things like global positioning systems (GPS) and computerized geographic information systems (GIS) have revolutionized surveying, the basic principles of surveying remain the same: accurate measurement of a point and authoritative, in-field verification of that spot.
Bill Rushing, vice president R&D with Berntsen, says “Even with advances in technology those principles and the need for a physical marker in the field will be necessary. If anything, the need for accurate marking has increased as seemingly everything that gets built (infrastructure such as buildings, highways, tunnels, bridges, dams, levees, pipelines, railroads, underground cabling, etc.) needs to be mapped and monitored.”
Bill recently checked in with us to discuss the history and future of surveying and the best tools to do the job. Here’s what he had to say:
Can you tell us a little about Berntsen? What do you specialize in?
Berntsen was founded in 1972 by Peter Berntsen and Phil Peterson. The original goal was to provide customized and distinctive marking products to make the job of land surveying and measuring movement of existing structures easier. Berntsen still makes top quality boundary marking products for surveyors, but we have expanded our marking solutions to support all types of infrastructure marking requirements. Berntsen is recognized for its product quality, product innovation and leading customer service. Learn more here.
How has surveying evolved since Berntsen got its start in 1972?
In the late 19th and early 20th century, metal survey marks began to appear. These were made from iron, brass and zinc. Berntsen promoted using more advanced materials like high-strength aluminum alloys, lead-free bronze and stainless steel – materials that were virtually unheard of in survey monuments – and pioneered the development of advanced manufacturing techniques like orbital cold forming, precision stamping and computer-controlled machining to assure consistent and outstanding product quality.
How do you think surveying will evolve in the next 40 years?
Accuracy and the need for faster measurement will continue to increase. This is driven by the need for continuous repair and rebuilding of older infrastructure, and by satellite-based GPS and GIS.
Surveyors and their clients will not only need highly accurate position, but they will also need up-to-the minute information about the location of interest. Berntsen’s innovative and patented InfraMarker™ hardware and software system combines diverse technologies and provides the type of position and updated information surveyors need for all infrastructure repair and building in the 21st century. Surveyors will become increasingly involved in Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE).
What tools and equipment should be in the toolbox of every professional surveyor?
- A variety of high accuracy reflectors and prisms
- Electronic Distance Measuring and laser devices
- Up-to-date high accuracy GPS and GIS mapping software
- Total Station
In addition, surveyors will be increasingly asked to carry equipment that enables and supports “Internet-connected marking,” such as items like RFID scanners and tags, sensors and devices that connect to the customer’s GIS in real time. These will find a place in the surveyor’s toolbox:
- RFID Reader suitable for above and below ground RFID marker interrogation (reading and writing)
- RFID Markers and Tags for both above and below ground (hidden) marking
- Cell phone to link to cloud database with two-way communication that allows updating the database from the field and information “need to know” sharing software when applicable, such as emergency response/planning situations
What are some of the most exciting innovations in surveying tools and equipment right now?
There are many new innovations on the horizon, including the use of UAVs, GPS capability expansion, GIS integration, sensors and RFID software and hardware systems like Berntsen’s InfraMarker® system. These technologies move the surveying world from beyond “location marking” to “connected marking.” The Internet of Things is coming to infrastructure and boundary marking.
What tools/equipment do you think are obsolete and/or ineffective today?
The math hasn’t changed, only the equipment a surveyor uses. Tools such as a surveyor’s chain, slide rules, railroad levels, and pen and ink hand-drawn maps are more obsolete than ineffective. Tenured surveyors can still replicate current surveys using old methods, but current methods are more popular.
What are the biggest trends in surveying equipment today?
Ever-increasing accuracy from GPS; smaller and lighter weight equipment; UAV’s and Laser scanners
How can professional surveyors stay up to date on the latest equipment and training available to them?
- Visit Berntsen’s website, social networks and blogs to see what’s new
- Go to state and national surveying conferences
- Take advantage of vendor webinars
- Read all applicable surveying magazines, GPS and GIS publications