5 Advantages of Using GIS to Plan Your Next Surveying Project

5 Advantages of Using GIS to Plan Your Next Surveying Project

Land surveying and GIS technology complement each other beautifully to allow us to create highly precise measurements of an area. This post highlights some of the many ways that GIS can be used in conjunction with surveying to yield highly precise and detailed results. Whether you are performing a commercial survey for a complex commercial build, or a small residential plot of land, the takeaway is equally important.

Surveying vs GIS

Surveying vs GIS info graphic

Traditional surveying offers excellent data points about where one thing is in relation to another. However, it’s not as accurate at measuring exact coordinates on topographic features. That’s where GIS comes in.

“GIS” stands for “geographic information system,” and is a tool that utilizes mapping technology to gather, store, manage, and analyze data. Because it’s really precise at measuring horizontal coordinates, GIS can be used in surveying projects to help increase accuracy. GIS also helps to centralize the data collection and organization needed to conduct an accurate survey.

1. Increased Accuracy

As mentioned, GIS is a precise tool that can help you plan and facilitate your surveying project. GIS offers the ability to store and analyze huge amounts of data about the land you are surveying. Using GIS protects the integrity and reliability of your surveying, and can help you propagate data variations across different projects. Whether it be mapping every topographical change or identifying all the different types of plants present on the land, GIS stores a full picture of the landscape. Remarkably, this also includes real-time changes in the land area due to weather, construction or other events, which we’ll explore next.

2. Change Detection

Change detection is one of the most important applications of GIS, and it can be used in a variety of ways. For example, you might use change detection to identify changes in the environment due to natural disasters, human impacts like development or deforestation, or anthropogenic processes like fire. Change detection can also be used as a tool for assessing land cover and land use. One such application would be identifying areas where vegetation has been cleared as a result of farming, construction, weather, or other reasons, by comparing aerial photos from before and after construction began. This is an excellent way for planning departments to track changes over time in their communities, without relying on antiquated paper-based models. 

GIS data over time can reveal how a specific plot of land has changed since it was last surveyed. This can model the impacts of climate change, urbanization, or even just the changing of the seasons. 

Many industries can also rely on the benefit of forecasting what changes will happen to a plot of land in the future, based on past trends and historical data. Natural disasters like flooding and fires are obvious events that are worthy of forecasting to help save lives and minimize destruction.

3. Data Sharing

GIS allows you to easily share data about the land you are surveying. This is a huge advantage, as it allows for easy and quick collaboration between various parties.

Person using a laptop with floating computer tools

You can share data with clients, other surveyors and government agencies such as land management or city governments. When collaborating on projects like septic systems, city water, or property boundaries, this can unify efforts for everyone involved. You can also share data with your own team members in order to make sure everyone is on the same page. 

Additionally, you can share data outside of your company by giving access to contractors or subcontractors who are working on the same project. This type of sharing will save your company time and money since everyone has access to the latest version of the project plan at all times.

4. Digital Creation

GIS also allows you to create digital maps and models. Whether you’re building something new, renovating an existing building, or just brainstorming, having comprehensive digital maps of the space is extremely helpful. 

With GIS, you can create a digital model of your land, property or building. There are many benefits to creating a digital model of your land, property, or building including:

  • It allows you to plan for projects in the future.
  • It gives engineers the ability to better visualize how something will look before it is built (or modified). This can help save time and money by preventing mistakes made during construction.
  • Models allow for easy analysis of areas where topography may pose challenges to building such as really steep slopes, drainage issues, and floodplains. This can help engineers proactively solve how to build safe structures.

Once you have a useful digital map, the opportunities are endless for collecting valuable GIS information to improve the functionality of spaces.

5. Land Development

When it comes to developing raw land, there are a plethora of factors to consider to ensure the job is done well, and unnecessary costs and delays are avoided. Some of these considerations, depending on the state of the land include: road design, earth work, contour measuring, traverse adjustments, water considerations, building site design, and site mapping to ensure precise property boundaries. Property boundary mapping is especially important in urban areas where plots may be very close together so that builders can maximize the space available to them. 

When developing land, architects and developers rely on programs like CAD to construct their plans. A highly detailed survey done through GIS makes all the difference in providing the foundation for a useful survey.

GIS provides increased accuracy, which can save you time and money in the long run.

GIS is a powerful tool for land surveying. It allows you to share information with other surveyors and departments, categorize your data, and create maps of the project. Why is this important? Because GIS provides increased accuracy, which can save you time and money in the long run.

GIS enables you to build a database that tracks property lines more accurately than traditional methods. When you use GIS for your surveying projects, it will ensure that every piece of land is labeled correctly, important topographic features are accounted for, and you have easily accessible digital data to refer back to.


GIS has helped hundreds of companies around the world save time and money on their surveying projects. Not only does it increase accuracy, but it also allows for change detection and data sharing. GIS is also useful for categorizing data and creating digital maps with ease. If you’d like to learn more about how GIS mapping can improve your surveying projects, contact Maptelligent today to speak with an expert!

Rich Ziccardi

About Rich Ziccardi

Mr. Richard Ziccardi is a financial professional with over thirty years of experience in Banking, Insurance and Investments with a business focus on financial products. During his working career, Mr. Ziccardi held various roles including, but not limited to: LOB Controller, Product Manager, Chief of Staff, CAO, and Global Head of Revenue and RFP Pricing. Most recently, Mr. Ziccardi spent 19 years at Bank of New York Mellon in Asset Servicing.