Surveying in civil engineering all you need to know

Surveying in civil engineering: all you need to know.

Surveying is a crucial part of civil engineering. A survey of the land is done before we begin construction on any land to determine the exact parameters of the natural environment. Based on the requirements, different types of surveying have been developed.

Today’s blog aims to explain the role of surveying in civil engineering. Also, we’ll go over all the essential aspects of surveying. Please stay with us. 

What is surveying in civil engineering?

Surveying in civil engineering means collecting information about the land.

Surveying in civil engineering involves collecting various types of information about the land. In surveying, measurements of the distance between points are taken along with descriptions of the exact characteristics of the land structure and surface.

The primary purpose of surveying in civil engineering is to identify the three-dimensional relationships between various locations. Engineers use distances and angles when drawing plans for public buildings, homes, roads, and bridges.

GPS data from satellites is also used for civil surveying. To ensure accurate measurements, electromechanical and optical equipment of high precision is also necessary.

What is the importance of surveying in civil engineering?

 A number of different applications for civil surveying can be found, including:

  • Creating topographical or marine navigational maps.
  • Creating plots.
  • The planning of a new construction project.
  • Identifying projected paths for roads, railways, power lines, and irrigation systems.
  • Land boundaries are surveyed and recorded to determine land ownership.
  • Topography analysis.
  • Evaluating the location of existing structures such as highways, canals, dams, and bridges.
  • Designing and building mines.
  • Engaging in military operations and engagements.
  • Charting navigation routes.

For a solid understanding of surveying, it is important to learn the specifics of these surveying types.

Types of surveying in civil engineering

There are mainly two types of surveying-

  1. Plane surveying
  2. Geodetic surveying

Plane surveying- 

Plane surveying is the type of surveying where the earth’s curvature is neglected, and the earth’s surface is considered a geometric plane. It is best suited to projects smaller than 250 km2. Plane surveying is also divided into several types:

Chain Surveying

  • Triangles are drawn around the area that needs to be surveyed
  • A measurement of the sides and a record of the interior is taken
  • To produce the map, each whole is plotted on a drawing sheet to a suitable scale

Traverse Surveying

  • In the plan, a series of parallel lines make angles.
  • An appropriate scale is plotted on drawing paper by measuring and plotting the lengths and angles of the lines and angles.

Plane Table Surveying

  • Plotting and observations are done simultaneously.
  • In this process, a piece of art paper or sheet is fixed to a calibrated plane table.
  • A field observation map is created by recording observations side by side on paper.

Ordinary Leveling

  • Different points on the earth’s surface are measured according to their elevation.
  • Delivers all elevation data required for construction

Geodetic Surveying-

In geodetic surveying, the earth is viewed as a sphere. Usually, large survey projects are carried out using this survey method. Government agencies conduct geodetic surveys for major infrastructure projects within their borders, such as canals and pipelines.

Due to the large areas involved in geodetic surveying, curvatures must be taken into account. There are five subtypes of the geodetic survey:

Reciprocal Leveling

  • It is used to eliminate instrumental errors when levelling across streams, gullies, and other obstructions
  • Two different setups are used for level readings
  • Using this survey, we determine the difference between two sites with obstructions


  • A series of well-defined triangles are formed in the plot of land to be surveyed.
  • All other lines and angles are measured using the baseline line.

Astronomical Surveying

  • Celestial bodies are used to determine the coordinates of a plot of land, including its meridian, azimuth, latitude, longitude, etc.

Tacheometry or Stadia Surveying

  •  Telescopic sights are used to measure distances,
  • One surveyor controls a theodolite while the other holds a level staff from a distance.
  • Stadia (the two horizontal markings on a theodolite) readings are used to calculate both vertical and horizontal distances.

Photographic surveying

  • The maps are prepared by taking photographs from different camera stations, even planes.
  • Maps, drawings or 3D models of some real-world scene or object are generated as outputs.

Surveying in civil engineering: Technology used.

Throughout history, engineers have developed a range of tools to survey all sorts of terrain. There are many different technologies available in civil surveying, including:

Computer-assisted drawing (CAD): 

Survey data can then be converted into useful visual representations, such as maps or three-dimensional models, by using computer-assisted drawing. With CAD, greater precision and detail is possible than with traditional sketching and drawing.

Global positioning satellite data: 

GPS data is crucial to civil engineering because it allows the determination of precise coordinates and locations. An engineer can determine whether a corner has shifted or a foundation has sunk with pinpoint precision using GPS data rather than visual inspection alone.

Aerial photogrammetry: 

The use of drones is often necessary for civil engineering for aerial photography. Engineers can use aerial photogrammetry to extract topographic information from aerial photographs of a landscape or site after taking a few aerial photographs. Aerial photogrammetry generates an accurate 3D model by combining multiple shots taken from different angles.

Point cloud modeling: 

Engineers often use point clouds or sets of three-dimensional data points to develop accurate 3D survey models. Using 3D laser scanning technology, surveyors generate data maps of the area they wish to model. With data representing every surface needed, point cloud modeling can then be used to combine the points into a detailed 3D model.


what is surveying in civil engineering? In the field of science and engineering, surveying is a crucial tool. It would be extremely difficult and dangerous to conduct major construction projects without surveying.


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