When surveyors and engineers are working together on a transportation project, conflicts sometimes result due to differences in personalities and backgrounds. What the engineer says is often not what the surveyor hears, and vice versa. To avoid problems, project goals must be clearly communicated from the beginning.

Why is the project being done? What is expected from the data? What is the timeframe? These are questions that define the approach the surveyors will take, whether using traditional technologies or terrestrial mobile LiDAR scanning (TMLS). As the surveyor expands the tools of documentation that allow data to be mined from the survey at later time, upfront communication will allow for a seamless workflow of sustainable data. As the additional applications of data expand with technology, so must the communication.

The goals for each project must be clearly defined. Public mobility needs safe highways that can accommodate the traffic flow. The traveling public wants to get to their destination quickly and without incident. The transportation industry seeks accountability, community-based planning, and a performance-driven plan.

At the early stages of a project, the engineer relays to the surveyor that data is needed for planning purposes. The second stage of the project requires a topographic survey that often includes the utilities. Developing a detailed written plan, including timelines for phase deliverables and clear objectives, will ensure that the two phases of a project are completed without undue rework.

In a traditional approach, the surveyor collects only the data needed at each stage of the process. The second stage, topographic survey for design, may be collected months or even years after the first stage. TMLS collects both phases quickly during the planning stage. This allows the engineer to look at different concepts at the planning stage using the point data and eliminates multiple trips to the field by the surveyor to collect additional information. The value of the data should be evident to both sides.

Regardless of whether a project uses TMLS or traditional surveying, clear communication between the surveyor and the engineer is imperative and will pay dividends throughout the project life cycle.