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As surveyors one of our primary tasks is producing, handling and manipulating data.  As we carry out a cadastral (boundary) survey we extract data from old survey information, we observe new measurements on site to confirm that everything is where it should be, and then we calculate new boundary positions.  It’s all about manipulating data.

But data is only part of the story, as without good presentation the facts get lost.  So we use various tools to visualise and present the data.  In the case of cadastral surveys the format for the visualisation (plans) is dictated by government regulations.  Other plans we produce are based on accepted practice or standards.

We’ve found that a lot of our post-earthquake monitoring work has demanded new ways of presenting the data to show changes since the previous measurement – usually it’s a vector showing the direction and magnitude of movement.

Where levels are involved we are able to show differences from a vertical plane using contours and shading maps.

For building face we have used software that is able to take a cloud of measurements and create a best-fit plane and then indicate how each individual point diverges from that best-fit plane.

Mostly we use tools available to us with our Cad software (Autodesk Civil 3D).  But we are also using excel to assist with monitoring measurements around a local tank farm – a simple line graph shows the changes over time.

Visualisation is a bit of a buzz word at the moment.  You can see some excellent examples here:


And allows you to create your own visualisations of various metrics about the worlds countries.

Or for something a wee bit different, aggregates content off the web to provide an emotional snapshot of web content.  You will find some similar projects at

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