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Advancing Canada's Infrastructure

How GeoVerra Is Delivering Information More Accurately and Safer than Ever Before

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Cindy Genkin-GeoVerra

Cindy Genkin

National Manager, Applied GIS, GeoVerra

Alex Garcia-GeoVerra

Alex Garcia

National Manager, Mobile Solutions, GeoVerra

Surveyors have always been in the data collection business, but the technology we have access to now and the improvements we’re making in digital transformation give clients access to the information we never thought possible.

Conventional surveying can be tedious for projects like highways, urban roadways, and railways. Boots on the ground can pose a serious challenge for crews to acquire precise measurements efficiently and safely, taking a lot of time, interrupting day-to-day traffic, and calling for large crews to get the job done.

While there’s a time and a place for traditional surveying, GeoVerra embraces technology to advance our industry and yours. Sometimes, it means giving our boots a break.

Building Canada’s Infrastructure - GeoVerra - Technology leading & forward thinking

New standards

Mobile Mapping Systems, or MMS, is an advanced laser affixed to a moving vehicle that scans its surroundings 360 degrees. This technology measures objects by millions of points per second with centimetre accuracy, quickly collecting every visual component in diverse environments, including highways, urban streets, railways, and pipeline routes. Clients can easily access this new class of data digitally for a totally immersive and accurate 3D view of objects and surroundings for their project.

Technology is redefining the business of road, railway, and pipeline projects and radically changing the way our clients think about surveying. With improved safety, compressed schedules, and reduced costs for some of the country’s largest infrastructure and transportation projects, MMS is our standard for collecting spatial data. In fact, GeoVerra’s teams were one of the first to adopt mobile mapping technology and the first company in North America to receive Trimble’s MX50 with the AP60 GNSS-Inertial system — MMS for surveying, engineering, asset management, documentation, and mapping. 

Alex Garcia, National Manager of Mobile Solutions at GeoVerra, relies on MMS for the major projects he handles. “The system collects the imagery and what we call ‘point cloud,’” he says. “That means the laser is spinning and collecting tiny dots that are literally three millimetres apart from each other. We take accuracy to the next level.”

The MMS makeover

Many GeoVerra clients focus on road design — requiring knowledge of surface, structures, culverts, powerline locations, and more.

“Before MMS, it looked like this: the team assembles to the site and physically walks all day to collect data for only one of those components. If more information was needed, say specific powerline data, then the team would reassemble again for another day in the field, collect the information, and take it back to the office,” explains Garcia.

“With mobile, it’s simple: the surveyor drives down the road, collecting 360-degree point cloud and images,” says Garcia. “From surface condition, curbs, manholes, powerlines, and whatever else the client needs, we can collect everything with high precision — and it’s accomplished literally in a day, saving valuable time.”

In a single day, Garcia’s team collected 350 kilometres’ worth of data for a client — with centimetres’ accuracy. That same result would require more than three months of boots-on-the-ground collection by a team of surveyors. On large infrastructure projects, meeting or exceeding schedule expectations is critical.

Of course, increasing productivity at the expense of safety is not an option. “In the traditional method, we would have to shut down highways or work off the side of the road where safety is a huge concern. We don’t have to do that anymore,” says Garcia.

You’ve got data

So after you’ve collected all of this significant data through MMS, using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or another advanced tech survey, the questions arise, “What will the client do with it?” “Who’s going to see it?” “How do we make the most of it?”

Cindy Genkin, GeoVerra’s National Manager of GIS and in-house client portal champion, answers these questions constantly. Using a geographic information system (GIS) that creates, manages, analyzes, and maps all types of data — then crafting it into one seamless, tailored web portal —she helps make data more accessible to GeoVerra clients than ever before.

“A lot of what we do is big infrastructure or transportation projects, which includes the client, consultants, and multiple stakeholders,” says Genkin. “We put information into one place so everyone can collaborate.”

Cut the cookie cutter

These portals are powerful and meaningful, allowing clients to analyze massive amounts of information and make data-driven decisions for nearly every industry imaginable. “Every portal is unique to our client, shaped to suit their goals,” explains Genkin. “That can include supplemental dashboards, still images, 360 panoramic images, 3D models, documents, precise maps, and much more.”

By understanding, integrating, and delivering data intuitively and visually, teams can gain more insights, drive smarter operations, and ultimately, deliver a safer and more sustainable project and business. 

Geomatics has always been ahead of the game in leveraging technology. Still, for years, it was only larger infrastructure projects with big budgets that could afford to pull information together in this way — until COVID-19.

“In the last two years, this interest has trickled down to every type of project,” says Genkin. “If there’s any element of dispersion, no matter the industry, clients want to be able to connect online.” With people at home and major site restrictions, GeoVerra collected data and made sure everyone could see it — without anyone ever stepping foot on site. 

“A perfect example is construction monitoring. Every so often, we’d scan the site with panoramic images. People could go in and see exactly what was happening, then compare it to the design files to ensure everything was on target. To think that was only ever done in person… it’s opened up everyone’s eyes.”

Real-life results

When GeoVerra gets involved in a project early enough, they can help clients organize the data they have, identify what’s missing, and design a way for the entire team to collaborate. “It’s about creating one place where you can go and get an answer without having to wait three hours for the person who knows that answer,” says Genkin.

It’s hard to attach a dollar amount to time saved with so many factors at play, but Genkin recalls gathering and displaying data from many different sites for one client. “They said they saved $50,000 in one month.” 

GeoVerra delivers more information, better accuracy, and increased safety — all while saving manpower and money.

Building Canada’s Infrastructure - GeoVerra - Technology leading & forward thinking
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