High Definition Laser Surveying – Its Uses and Applications

High Definition Laser Surveying – Its Uses and Applications

Since its introduction in the late 1990’s, laser scanning-also known as high definition laser surveying-has expanded its application to endeavors as diverse as engineering and historical preservation. Unlike traditional surveying methods, laser scanning can complete the surveying process in as little as one surveying session, which reduces the cost of surveying by limiting the involvement of the surveyor. But most important of all: laser scanning offers more accurate survey data than traditional surveying, making it ideal for applications that older surveying methods are inadequate for, such as troubleshooting parts to address warping, under trimming, and over trimming, and gathering the surface data of heritage objects for restoration purposes. For companies that still use traditional surveying, the resistance to laser surveying is usually rooted in lack of knowledge about its capacities. To give examples of these capacities, we offer a glimpse into how high definition laser surveying serves organizations in the architecture, engineering, historical and law enforcement industries.


The contribution of high definition laser surveying to architectural planning is truly enormous, resulting in the following applications, among others: 2D and 3D drawings of building facades, roof scans that reveal repair needs, fly-through video presentations, the texturing of surfaces, graphic modeling inside 3D scans, interior decoration modeling, animation inside and outside 3D scans, building security enhancements, land terrain modeling, and environmental metrics for analysis and modeling. All 3D imaging capabilities for architectural planning have electronic file output to AutoCAD or Micro Station, and all 3D images are presented with registered coordinate points.


The engineering industry is the industry most associated with laser scanning, and it’s easy to see why. Laser scanning benefits the engineering industry by offering the following applications, among others: clash control for piping, BIM modeling, verification construction adherence to engineering specification, early measurement and verification of foundation structure, 3D topographical site scanning, and real time GPS. All 3D imaging capabilities for engineering have electronic output to AutoCAD, Micro Station, and CAiCE.


One of laser surveying’s more unknown applications is within the historical preservation community, where it’s used to gather the data of heritage objects and structures for restoration purposes. A recent example of laser surveying used for historical purposes can be seen in the May 2010 scanning of the Mount Rushmore monument. The data gathered during scans of historical objects may also be used to produce miniature versions of famous objects for retail, with the Eiffel tower being a perfect example.

Law Enforcement

In using laser scanners to gather crime scene and accident scene data, law enforcement accomplishes three things: the collection of mundane physical details that could later prove valuable; the preservation of all physical evidence to a crime in the event that a case goes cold; and the ability to create crime scene and accident animations that reveal how a crime or accident occurred.