Applications of GPS in Land Surveying!

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Land Surveying is vast. Land surveying involves various types of measurements on the land surface and sub-surface. You must have seen engineers and workers on different sites taking measurements and looking through the camera-like equipment. I’m sure you’ve also noticed how some of the equipment is placed on the tripods. Almost all of the civil engineering projects start with a site survey that also includes land surveys. Basically, land surveys and measurements are done to determine and demarcate the boundaries between landed properties.

Surveys are also applied in the determination of the position of the old infrastructure, facilities, and the slope of the land. According to Historical facts, humans are ardent lovers of big and tall buildings. This is a great pointer to the fact that the science of Land surveying is old, and it has a lot to do with research, tradition, and history. Every ancient monument with its complex geometry, angles, bends, and extent of alignments shows us how land surveying and measurement evolved over time.


1. Map creation:

A land survey involves a systemized way to create maps of big areas like countries and continents. Trigonometrically surveys are special types of land surveys. Surveyors spent averagely 70 years on the trigonometrical survey of India, and it is still a wonder!

At that time, the available tool for carrying out a land survey was the Theodolite. The Theodolite operates by measuring angles. It takes accurate measurements of the vertical and horizontal angles at strategic areas on the land. After measuring angles with theodolite we combine that information with the distance that we measure using chain and tape measures. The GPS has simplified the map creation process as it can provide that exact location, the latitudes, and longitudes of every position on the Earth within a blink.

2. Enhancement of measurement of angles and slopes:

Land Surveying has also benefited from technological advancements. Theodolites have since been replaced by the Total station. The Total Station measures both angles and distances with great precision and accuracy. It harnesses an onboard computer to compute different calculations, and processes obtained data from total station or modern theodolites. With GPS and drone methods, Land surveyors can delve into the complicated areas of Land surveying. Nowadays, we are using GPS tracking systems in wide areas. In Simple words, Global Positioning System (GPS) is a tool that can pinpoint longitude and latitude, ground speed and course direction of the target location very efficiently. The location accuracy is from 100 to 10 meters for most of the equipment. Accuracy can be pinpointed to within one meter with special military-approved equipment. This GPS makes use of 30 differently positioned Satellites circling the earth every 12 hours and posited at 20,000 km from the sub-surface.

3. Simplification of navigation:

From the onset, the GPS system was specifically designed and developed by the American government. The US military harnessed the GPS in their navigation and it was strictly for the Army. Today, there is a massive repositioning as individuals can make use of the GPS when working on SatNav, Mobile phone and GPS stand-alone devices with the enablement to receive, analyze and make use of the signals. Each one of the satellites transmits exact data about its position and the current time at regular intervals. The GPS signals are electromagnetic; hence; they all travel at the same speed (speed of light). The signals from each satellite are received by the GPS. The GPS is digital, so it takes record of the distance of each satellite from the GPS as well as the time of arrival of the signals.

4. Tracking

Now we can use GPS tracking to accurately survey and markland. Surveying a home lot for building permits is not necessarily as technical; a good surveyor will use GPS technology and equipment for project advantage. The need for more technically sophisticated and less time-consuming tools forced scientists and researchers around the globe to find better ways to locate themselves. After prism and reflector based technology, we came to a satellite-based automated land surveying GPS system. The GPS tool works as a type of triangulation that does not involve any angles but is actually trilateration, which only means that it’s a method to find the positioning of some objects using simple geometry. This entire task is handled and executed by satellites. The GPS receiver will find the coordinates and measurements of the distance desired using the signals traveling time from different points. To get to the travelling time, the GPS equipment will use the time the radio signal took to reach the receiver multiplied by the speed of light and by doing it we will have an accurate distance.

5. Topographical information and time measurement

GPS can be used in different scenarios in Land surveying. To determine topography, and slopes, you need a GPS. The GPS can also measure the elevation of every point from the sea level.

As GPS is based on a satellite-based navigation system, it is an important tool for our military, civil and commercial users. Vehicle tracking systems GPS-based navigation software can provide us with step by step directions. We can also calculate the speed and direction of movement through GPS. The only catch is, GPS satellite signals are relatively weak compared to mobile phone signals, so it doesn’t work as efficiently indoors or in underwater, under trees.

Thanks to this science of land surveying, humans will always be aware of where they stand and what time it is, enabling societies and civilization as a whole to find better ways to use the land and resources the earth has provided us with.

GPS is quite simple to use. Place the equipment to locate the receiver from your control GPS machine unit, measure and graph the survey measurement using the system, adjusting and calibrating if needed. Map the points on the survey map and back up the data using a traditional survey level or other measuring tools if required.

Move the receiver to the next plot point on land, and do it, again and again, covering all points, to complete your survey, depending on the piece of land you need to cover and the number of points on land you are using in your survey process. This will also depend on the geographic location.

There is an upwards developmental trend in Global Positioning System technology. Today, GPS has extended its uses to a plethora of areas. GPS has simplified the process of land surveying. With a GPS, Land surveyors can deliver their work in a faster and more accurate manner.

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