Aerial Topographic Surveying

Aerial Topographic Surveying

Topography is the study of the shape and features of the surface of the Earth. Civil Engineers and Architects need the information to calculate future development of a specific location.

There are multiple procedures for a land surveyor to accomplish this. In the summer of 1990, I did it with a transit and level. I was in A-school (US Navy – SEABEES) in Gulfport Mississippi. We recorded all the data in a field book, took it back to the office and prepared our map from the data.

It’s much easier now. Depending on the situation and subject site. One way is to, with Total Station or RTK GPS unit, collect data in a Data Collector, which is basically a mini computer. We then transfer the data to our computer in the office. With AutoCad and the digital data we then prepare the topographic map electronically. For larger sites, we’ll subcontract an Aerial Photogrammetry firm to prepare the topographic map using set “Control Points” called “Panel Points” (see photo). Both procedures have their advantages. There are times when combining the two procedures is necessary.

When complete, the finished map and digital data is sent to the Engineer/Architect for design.


By JD Reyes, RLS
Alta Land Survey, Inc.