Welcome to Tuscaloosa Land Surveying

Welcome to Tuscaloosa Land Surveying!

This site is intended to provide you with information on Land Surveying in the Tuscaloosa, AL, and Tuscaloosa County area of Alabama. If you're looking for a Tuscaloosa Land Surveyor, you've come to the right site. If you'd rather talk to someone about your land surveying needs, please call (205) 210-4954 today or better yet, fill out our contact form request . For more information, please continue to read Land Surveyors are professionals who measure and make precise measurements to determine the size and boundaries of a piece of real estate.  While this is a simplistic definition, boundary surveying is one of the most common types of surveying related to home and land owners. If you fall into the following categories, please click on the appropriate link for more information on that subject:

Tuscaloosa Land Surveying Services:

  1. I need to know where my property corners or property lines are. (Boundary Survey)
  2. I have a loan closing or re-finance coming up on my home in a subdivision. (Lot Survey)
  3. I need a map of my property with contour lines to show elevation differences for my architect or engineer. (Topo Survey)
  4. I've just been told I'm in a flood zone or I 've been told I need an elevation certificate in order to obtain flood insurance or prove I don't need it. (Flood Survey)
  5. I'm purchasing a lot/house in a recorded subdivision. (Lot Survey – See Boundary Survey)
  6. I'm purchasing a larger tract of land, acreage, that hasn't been subdivided in the past. (Boundary Survey)

If your needs don't fall into one of the above, don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of it.  CALL Tuscaloosa Land Surveying TODAY at(205) 210-4954 or fill out a contact form request to discuss your survey needs.

tuscaloosa land surveying

Land Surveying and GPS

Land surveying is a profession that greatly utilize the GPS system.

land surveyingToday, man-made constellations are in orbit. Their purpose is to provide instant, exact and global positioning information. This global positioning system of GPS is revolutionizing the modern construction sites, automating and guiding land surveying equipment, providing instantaneous circles and volume gap, simplifying total and controlled surveys. Nearly everyone involved in the land surveying and construction industry has heard something about satellite positioning technology or maybe you or someone you know is already using it. Whether an operator or a casual observer, there are still many questions about how this exciting system really works.

These positioning satellites don't stay in one place like the stars; they orbit the earth about twice a day. Constantly transmitting uniquely identified radio signals that can be perceived by specialized units on earth. These signals are used to precisely measure the distance to the receiving instrument from each satellite visibly overhead.

Just as stars have exact locations in the sky, the locations of the GPS satellites are also defined, becoming orbiting reference points. Using a process based on triangulation, a GPS receiver processes the signals from multiple satellites to compute an accurate position on Earth, which is why it is widely use in land surveying.

For mobile applications that require high accuracy, such as three dimensional machine control, there are two requirements that must be met. First, the signals from a minimum of five satellites must be received at all times. And second, those five satellites must be distributed across the sky. This is called Dilution of Precision or DOP. The simple rule of thumb is this, the more satellites received the better your system will perform.

land surveyingAll land surveying receivers incorporate standard GPS tracking technology; unfortunately the GPS satellite constellation alone cannot continuously make the minimum requirement of accurate mobile positioning. For any given location, there are times in a day when there are less than five available satellites or very poor DOP.

Now, consider a land surveying job site with trees, buildings, or other obstructions when satellite receptions are easily be further reduced. All land surveying GPS receivers suffer this same problem because they all use the same satellites to operate.

Even the planned signal modernization to the GPS satellites won't solve this problem. An obstruction that blocks one signal blocks all signals from that satellite. A land surveying equipment provider has solved this problem. The solution isn't adding more signals from the same satellites; it's adding more satellites.

Today, there is a second positioning satellite constellation in operation, the Glonass System. This positioning system is operated and maintained by the Russian government; much like the GPS is operated and maintained by the United States government; combining these two satellite constellations give land surveyors access to 38 different satellites; 14 more than a GPS-only system.

The additional satellites mean stronger and more accurate positions and better performance in obstructed land surveying areas. These additional satellites mean maximum up time in all land surveying locations, in all conditions.

For an up to date and accurate land surveying service, contact Tuscaloosa Land Surveying at (205) 210-4954 or better yet, you may fill out our contact form request and a licensed land surveyor will contact you. 

Using GPS to Track You – Is It Real?

A licensed land surveyor trusts his GPS system like  his gun in a battlefield. Though it sometimes do not provide all the info that you may need, it is nonetheless very helpful in producing an accurate boundary survey.

Many have heard of “Big Brother” being able to track our movements. One of my favorite TV shows is “Person of Interest” where a secret machine keeps track of all conversations and people’s “criminal intent” in order to help the heroes stop the crimes before they happen.

While I’m SURE that there are tracking capabilities in most cell phones and different government agencies CAN track our locations, we might be a ways away them being able to determine criminal intent.  But there IS a recent application in England that I found very interesting.

licensed land surveyorNestle (yes, the chocolate company) is placing GPS Trackers in six KIT KAT bars in their aptly named “We’ll Find You” marketing campaign in the UK. When the person opens the package it notifies KIT KAT and the prize delivery team will find them within 24 hours and present them with a check for £10,000 (about $16,000.) See the article here.

Just about all new type cell phones, all smart phones, iPads and other tablets, lots of cars (more than you think), public transportation vehicles, golf carts, and watches have GPS devices in them now days. Another place they are, and rightly so, are in ankle monitors used by law enforcement. But, what you might not realize is that the electronic devices mentioned above can work just like the ankle monitor. Now, while it is true that you can disable the GPS tracking device in your cell phone or tablet, that doesn’t give all of us complete comfort in walking around with these devices on us.

Now, I’m not trying to be a conspiracy wonk here, but it is POSSIBLE that this could be taken advantage of by well-meaning agencies. And, as we know, law enforcement can make mistakes in identifying the correct suspect.  Of course, as a licensed land surveyor myself, I WANT emergency services to be able to find me if and when I need their service, so this is a double edged sword. Most of us probably have nothing to worry about in this regard, but if you worry about this sort of thing, it could keep you up at night.

licensed land surveyorEven as a licensed land surveyor, having used GPS technology in land surveying for almost 20 years, I still trust them more than I should.

One example is when I was in an unfamiliar town my GPS navigation device told me to take a “road” to the right. I slowed down and attempted to turn but it was a power line.  Not wanting to believe that Gizell was wrong (yes I named her), I went to the next street and turned and tried to find the “road” further back. I ended up driving down the sandy power line, which turned into a bike lane until I was finally stopped by a gate. As I backed down the bike lane looking for a turn-around spot I thought, “maybe this wasn’t a road and maybe my GPS device is fallible.” Of course, I soon justified Gizell by recalling that a human had to “digitize” the roads in and she just did what they programmed her to do.

If you need to turn off your GPS tracking device in order to sleep tonight, call your device’s customer service line and stay away from KIT KAT bars. If you would like to find out how GPS surveying technology can help you in surveying your property boundary, call a Licensed Land Surveyor at Tuscaloosa Land Surveying at (205) 210-4954.

Land Surveyor: Fixing World Land Disputes

land surveyor

A land surveyor may not be recognized as much as a doctor or a lawyer, but no one can dispute that they play a very crucial role on Earth.

As proof, several countries all over the world have unsettled land disputes over other countries. Some may have been settled through the International Court of Justice, Treaty conditions, or a claimant country’s sovereignty has been recognized. And of course, these were all settled with the help of a land surveyor.

Let’s take a look at some of the famous land disputes all over the world settle by a land surveyor:

  • Mayotte (Africa) – Claimants are France and Comoros. France gained full control under the 2009 referendum, the population supported an overseas department of France, and so became one on March 21, 2011. 
  • Ligitan and Sipadan (Asia) – Claimants are  Malaysia and Indonesia. The 2002 International Court of Justice ruling awarded both islands to Malaysia, but left unsettled the maritime boundary immediately southwest and west of the islands between Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • Eastern coast Narva and Petseri County (Europe) – Claimants are Russia and Estonia. Russia recognized them as a part of Estonia with Treaty of Tartu, 1920. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia continued administering it.
  • Tuzla Island and Strait of Kerch; Sarych (Europe) – Claimants are Ukraine and Russia. The conflict arose in 2003 when the Russiam authorities started to build a dam towards the island. Since then Ukraine established a border garrison on the island for a closer surveillance. The reason for the conflict is the fact that Tuzla island strategic location gives Ukraine full rights over the main channel in the Strait of Kerch and, this, the access to the Sea of Azov.
  • San Andres and Providencia (Central America/ Caribbean) – Claimants are Colombia and Nicaragua. Colombia currently has full control because Honduras de facto recognises Colombian claim.
  • Los Monjes Archipelago (South America) –  Claimants are Venezuela and Colombia. Velenzuela gains full control because Colombia no longer claims the islands, only the surrounding water.

A piece of parcel is something that signifies power and resources thus many countries fight over it. If big countries have unsettled disputes over a piece of land, small land disputes also happen between siblings, husband and wife, and neighbors. Though you can’t hire a land surveyor from an International Court to settle your small land disputes, you can always hire a local land surveyor who can survey your property and resolve any encroachment claims and/or equally divide a property as mandated by law.

A land surveyor plays a very vital role in settling land disputes, big or small. If you are in a situation that you may need the expertise of a land surveyor, please contact Tuscaloosa Land Surveying at (205) 210-4954 today or go to our Contact page and send us an email.

Land Surveyor 2.0: Today and The Future

The profession of a land surveyor has constantly evolved.

Basic principles of trigonometry are still at the foundation of land measurements, but the roles of a land surveyor, the tools that are employed and the governance surrounding land divisions have been a continuous story of change. Today’s successful land surveyor has found a way to survive the changes to his business that have come with the automation of machines. He’s not building muscles by pounding hundreds of stakes in the ground, but instead marking property lines and locating various infrastructures. Three-dimensional digital drawings are driving the machines that used to rely on operators being guided by wooden stakes that were placed there by a land surveyor. This recent evolution within land surveying requires the surveyor to embrace the changes that have come with our digital world.

Land Surveyor 2.0 must possess skills beyond land definition, planning and measurements. Weaving data from various sources into a cloud based resource is the new trend.

The idea of Surveyor 2.0 is not mine. I heard it at a recent conference where the concept was presented by Mr. CheeHai Teo, the director of FIG (Fédération Intenationale des Géomètres). FIG is the oldest continuously operating organization devoted to the affairs of land surveyors worldwide. His ideas caught my curiosity and I could easily relate his comments to the current state of affairs with surveyors I know myself. Mr. Teo stated that Land Surveyor 2.0 must Measure, Model and Manage.
land surveyorWhat does this mean today on the modern construction site? For a land surveyor, it’s not about staking points and alignments anymore. The machines can cut the lines and trim the elevations to match the digital models without a lot of wood in the ground. It has become more about establishing control and setting property lines. According to Tim Smith of Professional Land Surveying Inc. in Southern California, the modern land surveyor has lost an intimacy with the land on many construction projects. He may see a project in the very early stages and then not again until it’s almost completely built. Now his decisions must be based on data and not experience. The data are not just his measurements, field notes and property descriptions; data cannot always be analyzed with maps and spreadsheets alone. Visualization of the data while applying a variety of filters is one method of bringing the data to life. This allows the data to be manipulated in new and useful ways.

The sources and the tools for analyzing data have been evolving alongside Land Surveyor 2.0. A familiar example of this is Google Earth. Virtually any place on the planet can be viewed from an aerial perspective and many places are even accompanied with ground based photographs that can be sewn together. Several surveyors I know today are using Google Earth to get an idea about the terrain surrounding their project site before they visit it in person. But Google Earth is not limited to imagery. There are various overlays that can be applied. Street names, public transportation corridors, bodies of waters, civil boundaries and other layers can be viewed on top of the satellite images.

land surveyorFor Land Surveyor 2.0, these additional data layers include all of the data and meta-data from his previous surveys, active and passive monument information surrounding his project areas, inventory of available tools, licensing requirements, employees availability, customer schedules, finances, change orders, etc. As you can see, some of these layers are related to geography while others are related to resources or administration. Land Surveyor 2.0 must manage and integrate these layers into an efficient machine that allows him to access all of the data he needs to make informed choices in real-time. What does this look like and how does a company get there? The road is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. Many surveying firms have found that the Esri suite of software products can help them achieve these goals.

In a perfect world, Land Surveyor 2.0 has all of his historical work digitized and organized. He is able to locate the field notes for any particular survey within seconds or minutes without the necessity of digging though old log books and paper maps. He can filter his search to look by date, location, customer name, type of survey, etc. He can graphically display his projects on a live interactive map. The projects can be displayed through various filters so that trends over time or topic can be revealed. For instance, Land Surveyor 2.0 is able to state what percentage of his business is devoted to construction surveys. He can dig down and identify key customers and regions within these construction surveys. The financial aspect of the construction surveys is another layer so that determinations based on profitability can be intelligently made. Land Surveyor 2.0 does not waste a lot of time reconnoitering job sites because he can easily and quickly recover all of his field notes and control points from previous surveys surrounding the current area of interest. He accesses public data from the cloud for proximal surveys done by others and integrates all of this information into a virtual project.

LAND SURVEYOR 2.0 IS CONNECTED TO THE WORLD IN REAL-TIME. HE IS SPATIALLY ENABLED. HIS DECISIONS ARE BASED ON INFORMATION THAT IS UP TO DATE.

Digital drawings are shared on the web so that change orders and other adjustments can be updated constantly. land Surveyor 2.0 is now charged with providing analysis and advice to his customers based on this live and ever changing world. While historical experience is advantageous in the decision making process, land Surveyor 2.0 must have access and be able to analyze many sources of data and then weave them into a digital realization so that the machines can go out and move dirt into the right places.

Land Surveyor 2.0 is a GIS professional….. This statement will probably cause angst among many licensed land surveyors. It shouldn’t. The task of maintaining and controlling these survey layers is very similar to what many GIS managers do with other data layers is very similar to what many GIS managers do with other data layers. Land Surveyor 2.0 is licensed to ensure the highest levels of precision and accuracy within the survey layers of data. Land Surveyor 2.0 has become a specialized GIS analyst that is authorized by his government to make decisions about land divisions and boundaries. The GIS and Surveying industries have been trying to “Bridge the Gap” for many years and land Surveyor 2.0 is closer to this bridge than ever before. Surveying firms that have adopted this model are doing so because this is what it takes to stay in business in their markets. They need the competitive edge that accompanies access to data. Their GIS, their way of managing their business is helping them make more money.

credits to: Mr. Joe Sass of Machine Control Online