The Golden Age of Surveying


The history of a civilization is closely connected to its advancements in survey technology. Great leaps forward were always accompanied by engineering mastery. And the heart of the engineering has always been its ability to predict and manage what could not be seen by eye. For this reason, surveying is the foundation of engineering. Many of the techniques of ancient surveyors are still relevant today, but recently the tools have been changing. In a move powered by the digital revolution. Surveying is not just something needed for the beginning of engineering projects. It is now used diagnostically, and as a record keeper for work sites and projects. Ensuring that all the dimensions of an area remain in place and tracking all the deformations.

  • Tech Explosion: We all know that since the end of World War II the world has observed a rapid advancement of technology. And in our lifetime the world has been transformed by digital wonders. But along with the advancements, we have also begun to create structures that push the limits of human management. We cannot comprehend all the inputs required to design or manage modern industrial work sites. But new survey equipment can track millimetre differences, minute by minute. If you have deformation in an important vessel, there are companies who specialise in rapid laser tracking of assets. For example oil tank surveys from NB can keep refinery operators informed as to the health of their multi-million-dollar facilities.
  • Relevance of Ancient Science: Thousands of years ago, ancient civilisations produced incredible feats of engineering. Where they got their information from is unknown. It is possible that it was birthed from sheer genius, or maybe the source was extra-terrestrial or even supernatural. But many cultures experienced leaps in technology that gave them the ability to build structures and cities that in some way rival our abilities today. The foundation of their knowledge was mathematics, geometry and certain tools that gave them consistent measurements. The theodolite, the compass, trigonometry, and the properties of pi, are all essential elements of surveying today, although most of them have been absorbed into modern technology.
  • The Advancements Continue: Today surveyors have tools such as rapid laser tracking, Ultrasonic tools, GPS and mobile tech with extraordinary accuracy and diagnostic capabilities. What can be done at this time in history is already mind boggling. But now, surveyors are bringing another wave of tools. Now there are drones in the air and underwater capable of surveying on their own. There is a surge in artificial intelligence and quantum computing that is going to be able to parse the data in ways never imagined. Survey work can, and is, being done on the Moon, and on Mars.

It is hard to speculate what this will a mean to humanity, but is obvious that we are on the verge of another tremendous leap in civilisation. That is of course if humanity itself can contain its own self-destructive tendencies, which have ended all great civilisations previously. If we survive political conflict and the greed of the few, we are certain to be standing at the threshold of a magnificent age of advancement. But at the heart of it there will still be the foundational knowledge of the ancients.