Mapping and surveying services perform all of the activities that involve the physical measurement of land areas, including field surveying and data collection operations as well as the creation of maps using existing or acquired data. Mapping and surveying services are staffed by professional engineers and licensed land surveyors who use tools and equipment such as global positioning (GPS) base stations and portable GPS radio high-frequency (HF) receivers. Mapping and surveying services also use devices such as inclinometers, theodolites, and gyrotheodolites. With total-station theodolites, self-registering tachometers perform all of the necessary operations. Data is saved to an internal register or to an external storage device such as an electronic data collector. Mapping services that use other types of surveying instruments are also available.
Mapping and surveying services perform topographic surveys, planimetric surveys, mineral reserve surveys, boundary surveys, and construction surveys. Topographic surveys and planimetric surveys are used to produce maps with contour lines and other information about an area’s elevation and landscape. Mineral reserve surveys are used to map regions where ores, metals, minerals, or non-metallic commodities are proven, probable or possible. Mapping and surveying services use boundary surveys to draw the property lines of a parcel of land as described in a deed. Boundary surveys should indicate easements and encroachments, and reflect any legal limitations on the property’s use. Mapping and surveying surveys that specialize in construction surveys are also available. For large projects such as bridges and highway systems they often use photogrammetric methods to create a base map.
Some mapping and surveying services perform ALTA surveys and ASCM surveys for lenders, buyers and title companies who specialize in commercial properties. American Land Title Association (ALTA) and American Congress on Surveying Mapping (ASCM) standards adhere to nationwide guidelines instead of local ordinances. Other mapping and surveying services provide elevation certificates for insurance purposes. In the United States, an elevation certificates indicates that the elevation of the bottom floor in a building is above the region’s base flood elevation (BFE) even though the property stands on the 1% floodplain as defined by the flood insurance rate map (FIRM). Mapping and surveying services that specialize in monumentation, streambed and lake surroundings, and title research are also available.