Good data collection as the cornerstone for project success and budget management


Accurate data is the foundation of any AEC project. That is true from the initial boundary and topographic survey to the civil engineer’s site design to the foundation pour once construction has commenced. Inaccurate data results in costly mistakes.

That’s why a good data collection system is such a crucial part of the design process. Poor data causes delays at all stages of a project timeline. 

  • Land surveyors have to go back into the field to resurvey portions of a site. They might even need to rent or buy new survey equipment. 

  • Civil engineers design from incorrect plans. That will, unfortunately, extend to construction if not detected.

  • Contractors build off incorrect plans. That can result in foundations over setback lines.  

Correcting any of the above mistakes is costly, both financially and with regard to time. Delays caused by poor data disrupt timelines and increase overall project costs. That’s true for the civil engineer’s permitting process to the contractor’s construction schedule.


Bad Data 

Just like good data will keep a project running on time and under budget, bad data will deliver projects late while busting budgets. This point is especially relevant to land surveyors. But it also extends to every branch of the AEC industry. 

Within the past year, Autodesk released a study that showed in the year 2020, data errors cost the construction industry potentially $1.8 trillion in losses worldwide. About $88 billion of that, or, 14 percent, is work that had to be performed again.


Causes of Bad Data

There are several causes of bad data according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

  • Human Errors: Errors that affect the survey’s accuracy include incorrectly setting up the instrument, measuring the height of the instrument, and incorrectly setting your sights. Field notes errors are also common. 

  • Instrument Errors: Errors can result from survey instruments too. Horizontal and vertical collimation errors are possible with total stations. The optical plummet and plate bubbles must be checked before starting a control survey or before each setup. And, the focal point of the eyepiece must coincide with the plane of the crosshairs to avoid parallax.

  • Natural Errors: Survey data errors can also occur naturally. Sunlight can cause differential expansion of the instrument’s metal components. Heatwaves can also cause sight-line distortions near reflecting surfaces. Reconsider performing a control survey during intense heat waves. Sightlines (light rays) refract, or bend, due to atmospheric changes.

Implementing bad faulty data in a survey potentially leads to project delays due to those inaccuracies. Project delays will also result from the additional time to resurvey the tract. Both options can have expensive consequences. 

Employing AirWorks’ AI technology is one way to compensate for those delays by accurately and efficiently producing CAD drawings quicker. While you might lose time correcting a poor data collection process, you can compensate for it on the plan production end thanks to technological advances, such as those created by AirWorks.


Foundation for Good Data 

A precise land survey of a site – whether it’s raw land or a redevelopment project – makes all the difference. Civil engineers design off CAD basemaps. Those basemaps are the products of land surveys. And general contractors build from the site plans created by civil engineers.  

Land surveying firms need to emphasize good data collection practices for each survey no matter the project scope. This can range from something as simple as a residential survey for a home addition to an ALTA survey of a large commercial building.


Data Collection Practices 

The first step to processing good data is to collect good data. Start by reviewing your aerial mapping flight parameters. We recommend examining our data collection best practices before collecting data to reduce errors and repeats. 

There’s an old adage in carpentry to measure twice and cut once. That same principle applies to the AEC industry. Land surveyors, civil engineers, and general contractors all trust that designs shown on site plans are accurate. That belief stems from trusting that a surveyor’s initial survey data has been collected correctly. If firms don’t emphasize good data collection methods, it’s no surprise that bad data results in such costly financial losses.


When your data collection methods must be precise because your clients depend on your exact data, let us help you.

Contact AirWorks todayto discuss all your data collecting, image processing, and CAD basemap preparation needs. To learn more, visit our website at