The land surveyor’s job

 
(1) The land surveyor takes readings using a tacheometer with a touch sensitive digital pad. Using this method, the survey is almost complete on his return to the office... (2) When the surveyor is called on to define boundaries good relations and diplomacy are essential.
(1) The land surveyor takes readings using a tacheometer with a touch sensitive digital pad. Using this method, the survey is almost complete on his return to the office... (2) When the surveyor is called on to define boundaries good relations and diplomacy are essential.
(© Rights reserved)

Linguistically, the term ‘’surveyor’’ relates to the measurement of land and that of “topographer” to the description of a place, both of which are inherent in the modern definition of a land surveyor. His role is to identify the configuration of a place or given geographic area, carry out geometric calculations and work out 2D and 3D graphic representations or models in order to use this information for property or land developments.
The land surveyor may also specialize in areas where legal expertise is required such as land ownership etc. for which, in France, a further government-approved qualification is required.

Use in other areas

The land surveyor uses his expertise in many other areas, as well as public works, in particular :

  • drawings and maps of all scales and sizes for property development (in the field of surveys and land surveying, studies etc),
  • administration and development of territory, urban planning, architecture, environment etc,
  • building and construction,
  • agricultural usage ( rural land consolidation and development, assessment of harvests),
  • cadastral service which lists land ownership and constitutes the basis on which property tax is calculated,
  • engineering and stabilisation works (highways, dams, power stations, public buildings, historical monuments etc),
  • industrial evaluation (measuring equipment used in fabrication processes)
  • research (CERN and CNRS, European Organisation for Nuclear Research and the French National Centre for Scientific Research etc),
  • assessment of oil deposits.
Bridge development using an electronic total station with GNSS interface
Bridge development using an electronic total station with GNSS interface
(© MireTopo)

GPS has completely transformed the land surveyor’s job.

 

Multi-disciplinary cross-over

Topography is the largest field of surveying; a new discipline which has risen from the emergence of computer science and geographic information systems (SIG). Surveying gathers together the various methods of collecting and treating geographic information and uses the computer as the meeting-point for these multiple sources of data. Within this field can be found specialities such as geodesy (the study of shapes, dimensions and the gravitational field of Earth), photogrammetry (map-making from aerial photographs and satellite imagery), bathymetry (submarine relief maps), lasergrammetry (3D scanning), topography, computer-assisted design, management of databases, urban planning, cadastre etc.

The land surveyor’s job therefore incorporates many disciplines, such as mathematics, physics (optics), computer science, technical design, law, urban planning, construction etc. It also requires practicality and adaptability since everything starts from the terrain from which the data is obtained and the surveyor must be able to deal with numerous obstacles which might interfere with the taking of measurements and in doing so find the best solution to any such unforeseen problems.

Measuring techniques used in topography are used in many areas, such as detection of interference in petrochemical plants
Measuring techniques used in topography are used in many areas, such as detection of interference in petrochemical plants
(© Leica Geosystems)

 

In brief : Surveying is a profession which requires both individual input and teamwork; it links activities on site with work in the office and requires a knowledge of both the technical and legal implications whilst demanding constant attention to detail and diplomacy when dealing with clients.