How 3D laser scanning keeps us safe…

All of the hype over 3D laser scanning often glosses over another critical advantage it has over traditional land surveying: safety.

When asked to go out and procure data, we land surveyors must go where the data is and some of these places can be very dangerous. With 3D laser scanning, data can be collected faster and less intrusively than ever before, keeping our field crews out of harm’s way.

Think about it: where do you typically see land surveyors? On the side of the road!

Roads are frequently included in all manners of land surveying. They can be boundaries for property or serve as access to new commercial developments. For surveyors who work for the Department of Transportation, their whole job could be comprised of roads.

We all know that pedestrians have the right-of-way, but anyone who has crossed a busy highway can vouch for the fact that cars and trucks rule the road. Anything that limits the amount of time our field crews stand on roads ultimately makes our jobs safer.

3D laser scanning improves safety in two ways. First, it significantly decreases the amount of time surveyors have to be out in the field. When fieldwork can be completed with less instrument set-ups, field crews spend less time standing on bridges, highway abutments and railroad tracks.

Second, since 3D laser scanning uses light to collect data without the requirement of a reflective mirror held by a rodman, field crews do not have to physically occupy every point that they collect. These points can be located after the data goes back to the office.

This keeps field crews from having to locate such features as road striping, small medians between busy roads, concrete highway barriers and railroad trestles.

There are plenty of other less common examples. For instance, if a building is unstable, such as after a fire or structural failure, 3D laser scanning allows the data to be collected from a distance.

Similarly, when it is necessary to locate rough geography like a steep slope or cliff face, 3D laser scanning can negate the need for fall protection equipment. This is even more true when it is necessary to locate unstable slopes and landslides.

So, while it’s great to talk about the fact that 3D laser scanning brings home more data at a higher quality than ever before, we also truly value that it’s keeping our people safe.


David Headrick has over 20 years of experience in the surveying, engineering and legal industries, both as a project manager for LandAir Surveying and as a lawyer in private practice. He has represented numerous land surveyors, designers, architects, contractors and other industry professionals throughout his career. Today, David serves as an executive and project manager for LandAir, focused on developing and managing the company’s 3D Laser Scanning department. Contact him at


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