Advances In Geospatial Technology 02/23/21
Advances In Geospatial Technology
New technology paired with the right team can have significant positive impacts on a project’s schedule and budget.
As construction technology is rapidly changing so are client expectations around this technology and data. But with what can at times be an overwhelming amount of new technological options, how can firms within the CRE industry select the right new technology that will bring measurable results to their projects or clients? Feldman Surveyors, who have been operating in Boston for over 75 years, have found that marrying new technology with the right people is key to ensuring these advancements are providing their clients with real results. As Paul Foley, Chief Operating Officer of Feldman points out “these new technologies are rapidly becoming part of our geospatial toolbox, and we have invested in training our team to adapt quickly. Feldman has the drive and vision to be able to put this technology to practical use and provide the most efficient and complete results for our clients”. The Feldman team gave us a rundown of a few new technologies providing clients savings in time and money.
One of the newest technologies within the laser scanning field is VLX laser scanning. The Feldman team was the first in New England to utilize this tool, a rapid, wearable, SLAM laser scanner that collects point cloud data while the wearer walks around a space. Feldman recently employed this technology at 776 Summer Street, the 1.68M square feet mixed-use redevelopment of the former South Boston Power Plant. As part of this development, several of the former turbine halls will be rehabilitated and this scanner allowed for a much quicker survey of these historic structures. The Feldman team also used this new technology within their own office, a restored historic Roxbury factory building. The VLX also saved time on scanning a large warehouse in Watertown, allowing the team to scan hundreds of thousands of square feet in a single day.
Not only does the VLX Laser scan save time but offers other applications for facilities management as the scanning can be used to quickly track construction installation. The scans can be used for reporting and documentation, confirming install locations on a project. This highly accurate documentation can come in VERY handy once construction has wrapped up. The building owner and their tenants now have a living set of documents showing locations of pipes or other mechanicals behind walls, saving time and money on tenant fit-outs or future repairs.
Justin Geddis of Feldman wearing VLX Laser equipment.
A sample of the data images quickly collected with the VLX Laser Scanner.
While not as new as VLX the Feldman team also utilizes SUE, subsurface utility engineering, to help project teams get a handle on what’s below the surface, including the nest of crisscrossing utilities in downtown Boston. Accurately locating utilities underground is extremely beneficial during the planning stages of development as having this data can literally save millions of dollars on the design of new projects. Most often utilities are tracked by contacting utility providers and while the gas companies are accurate on their locations others can be off by feet. Radar pulses, ground-penetrating radar, sent below the surface can actively sense anomalies. This provides the project team with a 2D or 3D picture of anything that might cause problems before the first shovel hits the ground. Having this more complete picture early in the game helps mitigate risk, especially for what is one of the hardest parts of the development cycle dealing with what’s underground. Being able to understand what is below the surface saves time and limits liability for an owner.
The Feldman team has found that investing in technology is key in growing their business as construction is getting faster and the need for data is growing exponentially. However, clients need to be able to visualize and understand this data so it is actionable. Huge amounts of data can be overwhelming and often go unused but Feldman’s approach provides fast and easily digestible information for design and project teams. By providing the right information upfront this technology also aids in the lean construction process by making projects more predictable. Not only does this data save time and help mitigate risk but significant monetary savings have been found. For every dollar spent development teams are seeing savings on average of $4.62, this adds up quickly on multi-million dollar projects! “This new technology is awesome, disruptive, and an accelerant but it is only as good as the people utilizing it to bring people and designs together,” Stephen M. Wilkes, Vice President - Director of 3D Services for Feldman told BLDUP. “We have found the niche that allows our experienced and talented people to seamlessly bring this to our clients.” In practice, Feldman is so much more than just surveying. While surveying is at the core of their business they are actively working to bring in cutting-edge technologies as a full-service geospatial firm, providing more value to clients through increased efficiency.