Fair or not, surveying professionals have long been labeled as staunchly independent. There is little doubt of the pride that prevails throughout the profession, but so too does the demand for savvy business techniques, perhaps no more so than today.

To identify trends in 3D surveying, BNP Media’s market research division again worked with the editorial staff of POB magazine to develop and conduct a detailed market study. As with last time, the majority of respondents — 75 percent of all participants — either approve or recommend their companies’ equipment purchases. And what did we learn from them? Well, partnerships may just be the wave of the future in a business of vast technological requirements.

By Traditional Means

Whether it’s a matter of dependence or preference, surveyors are sticking with traditional tools. Of our study respondents, the percentage using total stations actually went up compared to last time, from 92 to 95 percent. Users of GPS/GNSS slipped by 3 percentage points, but remain strong at 79 percent. By comparison, users of 3D LiDAR and photogrammetric tools — already niche — actually slipped further back, from 34 to 25 percent.

What 3D Tools Do Surveyors Use?

As recent POB market studies in other applications have shown, professionals in surveying, mapping and geospatial are quickly embracing the use of aerial devices. While modeling software remains the top product for the users of 3D tools, it has dropped from 69 to 58 percent; likewise, point cloud data has dropped from 61 to 48 percent. The big gainer is aerial LiDAR systems, soaring from 22 to 48 percent.

The Demand is Up

Users of 3D surveying tools indicate their investment in these high-tech capital goods is paying off. Demand for 3D services is growing at an even greater pace than the last time we asked and received feedback from users.

Where is the Growth?

As with last time, when 66 percent of 3D surveying tools users cited it, the application seeing the strongest growth is topographic mapping. It continues to dominate at 69 percent. Similarly up is construction, from 40 to 43 percent. Of the remaining tools, though, all but mining are down from last time.

Increased Partnerships

While the percentage of users of 3D surveying tools is down from last time, the slack is being picked up by an increase in indirect users who are alternatively partnering with firms that use 3D surveying tools. The latter increased from 30 to 37 percent. The result is that the number of direct 3D tool users combined with indirect users who share with 3D tool users is 53 percent, only one point down from the total last time. It begs the question: Is sharing with experts a trend?

Let’s Get Going!

Users and non-users of 3D surveying tools alike still believe, more than any other statement, “the surveying profession has the opportunity to lead in 3D, but isn’t moving quickly enough.” In both cases, the belief is even more widespread.

What’s Driving Appetite?

According to users of 3D surveying tools, the biggest driver for the increased demand of 3D services remains new technology with improved capabilities, up by a point from 51 percent last time. The big mover, though, is the democratization of 3D technology; in other words, the technology is increasingly smaller, cheaper and faster. That driver increased from 30 to 44 percent.


3D Surveying Trends Study
Click here to download the PDF of Tracking the Trends in 3D Surveying Report 2015