With the evolution of surveying into the capture and management of 3D data, is “surveying” still an appropriate term to define a service provider’s capabilities? This was the question facing the officers and directors of Darling Environmental & Surveying Ltd. earlier this year.
Fifteen years ago, land surveying and environmental consulting were the foundation of the firm. The woman-owned business, led by wildlife biologist Mary E. Darling, MS, JD, with land surveyor Richard D. Darling, RLS, specialized in ALTA, boundary and topographic surveys, utility easement preparation and acquisition, and environmental surveying and permitting. But the small Tucson, Ariz.-based company was never content with the status quo.
In 2002, five years after the firm was founded, Darling purchased its first laser scanner and began applying the technology to expedite deliverables and provide more value to clients on construction projects. Applications for the technology gradually expanded into areas as diverse as mining, industrial surveying, forensics and building information modeling (BIM). The firm developed a reputation as the go-to service provider in the region for 3D laser scanning. Darling didn’t take the position lightly; the company continually looked for ways to innovate its services.
In 2008, the firm moved its headquarters to University of Arizona Science and Technology Park, a high-tech environment focused on innovation and growth. Meanwhile, demand for laser scanning exploded. “Once clients understood the value, they quickly adapted to 3D,” Mary says. “They were hooked.”
With an arsenal of both short-range and long-range scanners, including a Leica ScanStation C-10, Leica HDS6000 and RIEGL LMS-Z420i, along with the understanding of how to georeference scans to real-world coordinates, Darling was well positioned to succeed in this new environment. Clients looking for high-accuracy solutions and out-of-the-box thinking discovered an intuitive partner in the multidisciplinary firm, and word continued to spread.
A contract to scan The Venetian hotel clock tower for a first-of-its-kind 3D projection in Las Vegas, created by the Australian entertainment communications company Laservision for The Venetian’s 2012 Carnevale celebration, was a technological milestone for Darling. “The 3D projections made the building look like it was changing, morphing, moving,” Mary says. “That’s all done with 3D scanning as a base layer. It was a new type of project for us, and it has generated a lot of ideas for how we can apply the technology in the future. Even more can be done with how projections are animated and what types of graphics are used. The exterior of buildings will be animated with 3D projection in ways we haven’t even thought of yet.” (The same technology is being used to create the “Light of Venice” 3D projection show for the “Winter in Venice” holiday celebration, hosted by The Venetian and The Palazzo, shown in the video above.)
That accomplishment earned the firm a 2012 Copper Cactus Award for Nextrio Innovation through Technology from the Tucson Metro Chamber. The company name no longer seemed adequate. “We knew we needed to explain better what we do, because when we say ‘Darling Environmental & Surveying,’ people only think of two things: conventional surveying and environmental,” Mary explains. “We definitely wanted to get laser scanning in there.”
In November, the firm’s officers and board of directors approved a name change to Darling Geomatics, a name that Mary and Richard believe more accurately reflects both the international expansion of the business and the firm’s evolution to a “strategic digital solutions provider.” The company sees the integration of 3D equipment and software transforming professional land surveying and environmental measurement methodologies.
“We’re always excited by new clients, new projects, the opportunity to be more creative in different ways,” Mary says. “Every time we have a new project, there’s something new we learn. We have a passion for learning and innovation. Our team thrives on figuring out how to do something new and enjoys the diversity of clients and projects. The new name just fits us better.”