Geospatial services essentially allows data to be freed from lifeless spreadsheets and provides a method for visually displaying data in ways that make it easier to analyze, interpret, and communicate complex spatial information. The improved flow of information has made data more accessible in ways that benefit a wide variety of industries ranging from of natural resources to municipal services. Additionally, as the tools and technologies continue to improve and evolve, so does our ability to gather and analyze geospatial data. As a result, our Geospatial Services department is frequently discovering new and innovative applications for available technologies and finding ways to provide more accurate information to our customers.
A few of these technologies include Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS), LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), and remote sensing tools. When used in concert, these tools have applications that go well beyond the layered mapping systems that often come to mind when discussing geospatial services. One of these applications involves using aerial imagery or 3D scanners to produce detailed topographic surface data which can then be used for volumetric calculations, measurements, and site documentation that is more accurate, efficient, safer, and cost effective than traditional collection methods.
For example, our Geospatial Services Manager, Brian Clarkson, began collaborating on an interesting project for a salt mine in Plain City, Utah, four years ago. The company decided to try using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly referred to as a drone, to remotely measure the volume of unmined salt and potash in order to compare this data with its own estimates. Our Geospatial Services team was hired to fly our UAV over the project area, collect aerial imagery, and then use those images to generate a 3D digital elevation model (DEM). The resulting digital topographic surfaces are used to calculate the volume of unmined materials.
This project presented some interesting challenges for Brian and his team. First, they had to be able to collect high-quality imagery despite unfavorable conditions. The bright white salt contrasts so drastically from the dark reflections of the surrounding environment that the imagery can appear washed out. Second, weather conditions must be monitored for precipitation or changes in cloud coverage in order to achieve the correct balance of light and shadows in the imagery. To remedy this, the team developed an innovate workflow for this project that would allow them to successfully produce the 0.25-inch pixel resolution digital elevation models needed to generate sufficiently accurate data.
The company soon discovered that using the terrain data captured by our UAV to calculate stockpile volumes was safer, faster, and more accurate than our client’s own estimates. As a result, our team has been asked to return monthly to provide updated inventory information. The project has recently been expanded to also include performing 3D scans of salt and potash stored within concrete domes. These scans are then used to calculate the volume within each storage dome.
Learn More About Our Geospatial Services
Our Geospatial Services team has decades of experience using GIS, remote sensing, UAVs, and related geospatial technologies to provide dynamic solutions that meet the specific needs of our customers. The variety of services we offer ranges in complexity from simple real estate maps to complex online and mobile applications. This includes pavement analysis, interactive 3D modeling and aerial tours of real estate, planimetrics, topography, airport airspace analysis, mapping municipal facilities and hydrological features, and more. Visit our Geospatial Services page to learn about some of our other interesting projects and for more information about the geospatial services we provide.