3D Data in Surveying: Plotting a Course for the Future

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Clark Yuan
Clark Yuan
September 12, 2023
5 min

Surveying, the science of analyzing and recording characteristics of the global spatial infrastructure, is a key component to the successful operation of multiple industries. Surveying provides valuable measurements that enable informed decision making, from establishing physical boundaries of construction projects to calculating irrigation system efficiency in farming. Recent developments in 3D technology have advanced the industry, providing engineers the ability to analyze our world more accurately and efficiently.

A Transformative Innovation

3D data provides benefits to surveyors over traditional surveying techniques:

1. Advanced Visualization and Georeferencing

hurricane winds causing damage which can be tracked using 3d data

3D data provides a more faithful representation of our world. By leveraging 3D laser scanning, surveyors can create point clouds to accurately measure the Earth’s topography, enhancing their ability to understand spatial relationships between objects. In the point cloud above of Autzen Stadium, the added z axis makes it easier to compare the structure to the surrounding vegetation. We encourage you to try it for yourself on the Stitch3D platform.

Additionally, point clouds can be overlaid directly on top of a 2D map, known as georeferencing. Through georeferencing, surveyors can visualize depth and better understand the impact of projects on the surrounding environment. For instance, surveyors partnering with construction companies can provide a point cloud of their construction boundary overlayed on a map to clearly designate where their site begins and ends. To try it for yourself on Autzen Stadium, select the globe icon at the bottom left-hand corner of the Stitch3D viewer.

Enhanced visualization has practical applications during designing and planning. In Switzerland, surveyors used LiDAR to scan the city of St. Gallen to inform city planning. By leveraging the 3D model, city planners were able to visualize the infrastructure’s current state and more effectively communicate their sustainability initiatives. From these insights, engineers were able to create a multi-step plan to transform the city.

2. 3D Measurement and Analysis

hurricane winds causing damage which can be tracked using 3d data

An essential part of surveying is performing measurements and analysis. With 3D point clouds, measurements that were once cumbersome can now be performed instantly. For example, surveyors working with utility companies can easily measure the height of power lines and surrounding vegetation to communicate a more sophisticated maintenance plan. Utilizing construction site point clouds, surveyors can measure the distance between load bearing pillars and calculate square footage quickly and reliably. Complex measurements such as volume can be easily calculated by selecting the boundary of a structure on a point cloud. On the Stitch3D platform, select the various measurement tool to see these measurements in action.

The Stitch3D Advantage

We built Stitch3D on the premise that 3D data should be as accessible as possible. However, today's leading cloud storage platforms weren’t built with 3D in mind. Stitch3D offers a comprehensive 3D platform and 3D-specific features that make working with 3D data easier than ever, such as:

  1. Web Based Visualization
  2. Stitch3D offers surveyors the ability to view 3D files directly from a web browser. Gone are the days of downloading files to view on desktop software.
  3. File management, sharing and collaboration
  4. Stitch3D makes it easy to upload and share 3D files. Our platform supports a wide array of file types, including LAS, LAZ, E57, PLY, STL, OBJ, FBX, and GLB, to name a few. Users can also share 3D content using a public link that can be viewed by anyone directly on the web. And to ensure that users can be as productive as possible, Stitch3D offers advanced collaboration features that allow users to edit and comment on files directly.
  5. Advanced Analytics
  6. Stitch3D offers a comprehensive set of analytical tools for surveyors to make measurements and drive decisions. Our platform can instantly calculate distances, heights, area, slope, and volume. 3D files can be overlayed on real-world street or satellite maps for added context.

Providing the Foundation for Our World

Whether applied to urban planning, utility development, environmental conservation, or beyond, 3D data integration in surveying helps advance our understanding of the physical world. Recent developments in 3D technologies have transformed the industry, ushering in a new era of precision, efficiency, and insight. As 3D innovation advances, 3D surveys will continue to not only help us understand our present but also shape our future. Stitch3D was built with that future in mind, and we are striving to help make 3D data easy and accessible to everyone.

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