What is a topographic survey?

Updated: Dec 11, 2020


A topographic survey is a survey in which a site’s boundaries, natural features and manmade structures are accurately mapped out.


A survey is typically the first step in the process for infrastructure site development, so it’s important that the survey reflects the land in its truest possible form so that developers and people on the site know exactly what they are working with. Failure to do so results in pitfalls and complications later down the line. Topographic surveys are particularly useful for architects, contractors, engineers and designers, where a survey will provide exact and precise plans and coordinates to help assist with the planning and layout process.



How is a topographic survey carried out?


Delivering a project or managing an asset effectively will require you to procure multiple types of data during any single stage of its lifecycle, from design to management. It’s important you are able to procure the data that will have the largest impact. You need to make the right choice, balancing multiple factors such as accuracy, cost and speed.


At Sensat, we are the UK’s leading drone data capture service. Drone topographic surveys are a faster, safer and more cost-efficient way to survey at height, and works similarly to other aerial capture methods. We pride ourselves on our quality, so high-resolution cameras and thermal/multispectral sensors attached to the drone are flown over or around an area or object of interest capturing images and collecting data. The images are then processed using complex computer vision algorithms to produce a variety of 2D and 3D datasets. The differentiating factor for drones is that they can get closer than other aerial methods, which in most cases leads to greater levels of spatial accuracy.


Our aerial drone surveys are planned and coordinated by an experienced team of CSCS qualified operators, from risk assessments to permissions and permitting. Sensat has secured exclusive Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) exemptions for operations that enable us to fly over live highway and rail. Additionally, Sensat has CAA permission to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), three times farther than standard commercial operators. These exemptions allow the project to be completed as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.



How much does a topographic survey cost?


Topographic surveys can differ in cost. Depending on the size of the zone requested, level of accuracy, level of detail, and number of outputs (read more about what outputs we can deliver here). At Sensat, we offer a free quotation service and price-match guarantee for civil infrastructure clients.


Sensat prides itself on being industry leaders in drone data capture. Through the use of drones, we are able to collect and visualise up-to-date and highly accurate data that is valuable throughout the different design and construction stages.




On the Sensat website, you can find a whole page dedicated to free educational case studies, webinars, reports and tutorials to help you plan, build and manage your projects. Visit www.sensat.co.uk/help-centre-resources to learn more.


To see Sensat's drone data quality for yourself, request sample data at: data.enquiries@sensat.co.uk. Alternatively, learn more about Sensat's data services and what we can do to support your project here.