With the increase in technology the worlds of Land Surveying and geographic information system (GIS) are becoming more compatible.  Although both are closely related geospatial technologies, GIS has been built through an entirely different process than surveying. Land Surveying has a deep global history, while GIS use increases every day with the rapid growth in technology. Land Surveying has always focused on precision of the field located information, occupation and monumentation, while GIS data references a variety of sources with varying degrees of accuracy and precision. GIS is based on data management and less on the spatial accuracy of data. Surveying in the past has often been performed on local or assumed coordinate systems, while GIS has used global coordinate systems to display data.

As the technology evolves bringing GIS and Land Surveying closer together with the use of GPS and global coordinate systems, data is shared between the two more accurately and efficiently. Now you wouldn’t hire a GIS firm to do a boundary survey, nor would you hire a land surveyor to conduct analysis for your planning project. But when you put the two together you can see how each one can complement the other. The contribution to GIS by surveying is obvious. GIS is built on the analysis of data and geodetic measurements. At the same time, surveying consultants have the opportunity to harness the power of GIS to be able to provide far more services as technology advances.  GIS is a great way to share surveyed information with clients using a visual presentation with the addition of aerial imagery.

GIS is utilized by surveyors more and more every day, making it easy to access owner information, zoning and even historical recorded surveys to aid in the retracement of boundaries.  Surveyors use GIS in project management as well.  Being able to track previous projects, budgets, historical data through GIS, makes it a valuable tool in estimating and proposals. GIS is a great way to share on-going project data between the surveyor and the client, showing project progress and planning for upcoming milestones.

As technology continues to advance, GIS and Land Surveying will rely on one another more and more in sharing and retracing data.  This will aid in consulting clients in planning and tracking projects for years to come.


Matt Trisdale
Survey Project Coordinator
Metro Consulting Associates