Internal Affairs: Processing and CommunicatingInternally

A 163Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

There are countless articles on Mobile LiDAR addressing a variety of topics. As an industry, we do an effective job of communicating to our peers and prospective clients the projects we’ve performed, the accuracies we’ve achieved, or the unique solutions we offer, among other topics. However, aside from the marketing and sales efforts, I find the most important communication within our organization is at the "consumer of information" level.

You may be a silver-tongued, California Heavy that can close any deal, but just how effectively can you convey the project requirements to the collection personnel, or LiDAR analysts, or the engineers who utilize the data to perform design services? A majority of the time, these individuals work in other offices or different states than where the actual processing occurs, and often speak a different "language" regardless of dialect.

Speaking the Same Language
Since Baker has a national footprint, we have had the opportunity to support engineering activities across the country and in various markets–surface transportation, aviation, rail, and water resources to name a few. Aside from the obvious differences in products and requirements within the various markets, there are deviations in the technical definitions of objects that vary from state to state (and sometimes even within a single organization).

Further complicating the matter, you also need to decipher the various localized nomenclatures and CADD or GIS layering schemas–a very daunting task for the novice that even Rosetta Stone can’t help translate. We understood directly from the outset that we needed to develop a means for our local experts to effectively communicate those variations to our processing staff, and establish our own living data-dictionary for each user/client.

Existing Information
In almost every situation to-date, our Mobile LiDAR operations follow some other survey activities on a transportation corridor. The work may be decades old, but chances are as-built drawings, right of way maps, or design data exists in some form. The use of existing data not only assists the engineering staff with communicating requirements to the Mobile LiDAR team, but provides a means to perform additional quality control and validation.

Increasingly, design engineering is performed by teams comprised of multiple firms with different areas of responsibility and expertise. The Mobile LiDAR data can be utilized across the entire team to satisfy various data requirements. In this environment, collaboration is crucial to avoid duplicate or overlapping efforts that ultimately result in needless increased costs. Baker utilizes tools such as Cisco Meeting Place to present information or share one’s desktop with a colleague. Having the ability to instantly interact and connect individuals with varying skill sets, provides the opportunity to efficiently translate that which is being requested to what needs to be extracted from the point cloud.

Sharing Data: The new normal
It is quickly becoming the rule, rather than the exception, to provide the point cloud to the engineering staff to manipulate and examine. With the acquisition of Pointools by Bentley and the addition of the Vortex Engine and Point Cloud toolbar in MicroStation, our engineers are able to seamlessly interact with the extracted data and point cloud. Many clients, including state Departments of Transportation, are requiring LAS deliverables, even going so far as to also require calibrated imagery for use in applications such as Certainty3D’s TopoDOT software package. We have found that the more direct access the engineers have to the information, the greater possibilities they understand; which results in more requests for additional extractions. They realize the capabilities of the equipment; are becoming more educated regarding the potential; and are jumping on the bandwagon.

Stephen J. Clancy, PSM is Assistant Vice President and Technical Manager responsible for Baker’s Mobile LiDAR operations.

A 163Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE