A day in the life of a surveyor in Scotland

The job of a surveyor is the one that we get asked about the most. People are fascinated by the people in hi-vis jackets that work their way around the country capturing the 5 000 changes made to our database everyday. Craig Methven and Dave Robertson work in our Inverness field office and told me what they get up to…

No two days are the same in capturing and maintaining the data in our patch of Scotland. As a two-man team, based in Inverness, our backyard covers an area the size of Belgium. Although there are large areas of wilderness, change happens across the length and breadth of Highland Region, from large road and housing developments to wind farms, hydro electric schemes and single houses with meandering access roads, often in remote areas.

All of this makes for a challenging and exciting life, the key to success being forward planning. With lengthy journeys required to service our geography, frequent detachments are essential. On average, one working week in three is spent in hotels and other accommodation across the north and west of Scotland. Accommodation and ferries all require booking well in advance. In the tourist season rooms are at a premium, particularly in tourist magnets such as Skye. Rooms are equally difficult off-season as many hotels close for the winter.

Some wild and remote spots present unique challenges. For example, Scoraig and Knoydart involve arranging boat and car transport where no ferries or car hire exist. A wee black book of useful contacts and planning work a couple of months in advance make all things possible.

Anyone who has been on holiday to the Highlands will know that there are many areas where mobile signals are flaky or non-existent. This makes data capture using GPS problematic. Innovative solutions such as computing the coordinates of base stations to pump out a signal from one kit to another are all part of ‘delivering the impossible’

The varied workload and the benefits of the great outdoors in some of the most stunning scenery in Britain, and seeing its diverse wildlife up close, more than make up for the frustrations of collecting ADDRESS-POINT, challenging weather conditions and the dreaded midges. The Ford Ranger 4X4 is invaluable for reaching the parts that other company vehicles can’t reach, and for decimating midges.

Find out more about the challenge the team faced when mapping the Glendoe Hydro Scheme in the next few weeks.


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3 Responses

  1. Pingback : Tweets that mention Ordnance Survey Blog » A day in the life of a surveyor in Scotland -- Topsy.com

    1. Melanie

      Ordnance Survey surveyors use high accuracy rover GPS equipment combined with a network of over 100 Ordnance Survey GPS reference stations spread across the country (OS Net). GPS data is streamed from the base stations to servers in Southampton where software calculates corrections to the GPS system in real-time. The surveyor’s GPS equipment transmits their raw GPS position (accurate to a few metres) using a mobile phone network to the software which them sends back a correction model, allowing their equipment to correct the errors in the GPS system. They can therefore position points on the ground to an accuracy of a couple of centimetres. If mobile coverage is not available, they are not able to receive the correction signals and so have to use other methods to accurate position detail on the ground

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