3D Laser Mobile Mapping and the X-Ray Machine

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The history of man is described in relationship to events that alter its course.  Terms like “pre-Civil War”, “B.C.” or “before the Wright brothers” are used like a thumb tack in time to give context and understanding to a story.  These turning points are often moments in time when the ingenuity of man paves the way for a revolution in thought and industry.  One such example is the medical field before and after the introduction of the X-ray machine. Before its invention the tools available for giving an accurate and helpful diagnosis included little more than a tongue depressor and a stethoscope.  But overnight, an average doctor with the foresight to purchase an X-ray machine became better at diagnosing broken bones, sprains and disease.  And this because he had found a better tool.  Overnight the medical profession found a new direction.

The implications of 3D laser scanning and mobile mapping are quite similar.  Taken to its obvious end, mankind will figure out a way to accurately map and update the entire surface of planet earth into a point cloud that can be viewed by any child on a handheld gaming device in the backseat of the minivan.  Until that time, we continue to learn more daily about its extraordinary capability to describe in space and real time what has until now been limited to words and 2D pictures.

Through the use of 3D mobile scanning and mapping, the engineering and surveying fields have found a new and better direction.  And in financially difficult times breakthroughs in technology can be capitalized on.  When times get tough companies tend to act in one of two ways: they freeze spending to hang on to capital and personnel, or they invest in smarter ways of doing business so when the economy recovers, ground’s been taken instead of just held.

This emerging technology has many names: laser mapping, mobile lidar, mobile mapping, 3D laser scanning, mobile scanning.  Whatever you decide to call it, it allows for the collection of enormous amounts of data with accuracy and speed that make it difficult for a surveyor or engineer to keep from drooling. Right now they, better than anyone else, understand the implications: safer jobsites, reduction in manpower, and unheard of amounts of more accurate data.

Although 3D mobile mapping is not a mainstay in every industry, it’s only a matter of time before the construction, mining, surveying and civil industries call 3D mobile mapping standard operating procedure.  Regulations are being passed around the country that can’t be complied with apart from finding new ways to safely generate data faster and more accurately.  Whether motivated by compliance, love for the planet or ambition, each industry already has it’s early adopters.  Public utility companies are using it for GIS, waste management sites for determining compression factors, mining operations for calculating reserve and inventory volumes, and surveyors for mapping and erosion control.  This data is being made available to the end users through direct purchase of mobile scanning equipment and software, or through service providers that deliver the information in a format useful to their clients.

I’ve heard it said that those without vision perish. Business testifies to this truth.  Everyone’s looking for a game-changer and 3D mobile mapping is certainly that.  So challenge your thinking, stay informed, consider the awesome possibilities of 3D mobile mapping and move forward.

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