Industry Challenges | Drones - Accuracy and Opportunity for Surveyors

 Our Consulting & Services Manager, Shawn Herring, wrote a great article on surveying industry insights on drones. Here's a portion of the article:

Drones, drones, drones!  Over the past few years this may be the biggest industry trend for land surveyors and civil engineers, and probably just as important of a shift as GPS data collectors.

I started a surveying firm in 2010 with a focus on ALTA surveys, general boundary and topo projects, mass volume calculations, as well as construction staking.  We then got into a little LiDar scanning and really jumped into aerial data capture about 5 years ago and have never looked back!

I love data capture, whether from the ground or from the air, and trying to keep up with the daily technology trends and advances can sometimes be overwhelming.  I thought I’d put together this article on some of the lessons we’ve learned over the past few years when it comes to utilizing a drone in our survey department.

Industry Challenges


Talent Gap - Some things we face daily in the survey industry is the talent gap that seems to be getting wider and wider every year.  Here in the State of Utah, the average age of a licensed land surveyor is 57!  The year over year decrease in licensed surveyors throughout the Western states has been cut almost in half in the past decade which is alarming in many ways. Getting kids 13-17, college aged students and even the non-traditional 30+ crowd interested in a “blue collar” career isn’t easy.  However, with the rapidly increasing use of drones for survey, I can see an upward trend of younger men and women getting excited about the world of land surveying.


Schedule - Resolving schedule conflicts to meet client deadlines has always been a juggling act.  Just as with everything else in life, people want and demand immediate results.  Clients, rightfully so, want their project to be #1 priority, no matter the scope or size.  Deploying drones can help speed the data capture up, getting near immediate results and actionable data in a fraction of the time as traditional field gathering.

Safety - Keeping crews safe when working on hard-to-access projects like steep terrain, busy rights-of-way and fenced yards is always a priority.  Couple that with the average age of surveyors, and you may struggle, or even pass on projects, that have any sort of physical barriers.  Gathering data from the air can supplement those hard to survey areas and keep your crews safe from some of these project types.

Adding drones to your toolbox helps address each of these challenges.

Important Note:

!! Drones are NOT a replacement for your field crews !!

If you'd like to learn more insights on drones in the land surveying industry, click here.