The Development of Surveying Services

Surveying is the technique and profession of determining the precise, three dimensional points, along with the angles and distances between them. Often used in mapping and establishing boundaries for ownership, surveying has been around for a very long time, certainly since humans started to build large structures. The Prowess of the Ancient Egyptians is plain to see in the perfect North South alignment and almost perfect square shape of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Egyptians also used a simple geometric method to re-establish boundaries every year after the river Nile had flooded, and a peg and rope geometry was used in the construction of Stonehenge, in England. The Roman Empire used surveying to establish measurements of land, under which the Empire was divided, while a thousand years later, when William the Conqueror commissioned the Domesday Book, which required all land owners, and the land they owned to be precisely documented, the surveyors had to show their skills once again.

Modern Techniques and Instruments

The instruments we know today started to appear in the 18th Century, with the first precision theodolite introduced, which measures angles in the horizontal and vertical planes and was a great step forward in accuracy and occurred around the same time that James Watt developed an optical meter for measuring the parallactic angle, from which the distance to a point could be calculated. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, surveying became a professional occupation and their work resulted in the construction of the network of rail, roads and canals. Surveyors were also in high demand in the USA, when the Public Land Survey System, formed the basis of dividing the West of the country into sections that could be sold, and created township grids, which were then accurately divided and subdivided.

The Influence Surveying has had on Society

Modern day surveyors like CitiSurv Land Surveyors still utilise the same system regarding land boundaries, called the Torres System, first used in South Australia in 1858.The idea was to simplify land titles, while providing a central register to provide reliable land title. With every transaction being centrally recorded, it provides any interested party to check on the status of any property, thus reducing the possibility of fraudulent activity. The State is responsible for its upkeep and provides a compensation scheme for those suffering loss from private fraud or through its own errors.

The Surveying World Today

Further developments in technology through the 20th Century helped to improve accuracy, especially when measuring long distances. It wasn’t until 1978 though that we first had the Global Positioning System, or GPS, though it was quite slow in its infancy. Improvements brought the Real Time Kinematic (TRK), surveying system, which provides high accuracy measurements, through use of a fixed base station and a roving antenna. Today’s surveyor continues to use the theodolite, albeit a significantly more sophisticated version of the original, RTK, GPS and Total Station, which is an electronic theodolite, with a built in Electronic Distance Measurement system, to read slope distances from the instrument, to a particular point. Surveyors today are involved with many different projects, but now they are equipped with great technology which truly enables them to know precisely, what they are doing.


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