Surveying is the science and art of making the measurements necessary to determine the relative positions of points above, on, or beneath the surface of the earth or to establish such points. Surveying continues to undergo important changes.
Plane surveying neglects curvature of the earth and is suitable for small areas.
Geodetic surveying takes into account curvature of the earth. It is applicable for large areas, long lines, and precisely locating basic points suitable for controlling other surveys.
Land, boundary, and cadastral surveys usually are closed surveys that establish property lines and
corners. The term cadastral is now generally reserved for surveys of the public lands. There are two major categories: retracement surveys and subdivision surveys.
Topographic surveys provide the location of natural and artificial features and elevations used in map making.
Route surveys normally start at a control point and progress to another control point in the most direct manner permitted by field conditions. They are used for surveys for railroads, highways, pipelines, etc.
Construction surveys are made while construction is in progress to control elevations, horizontal positions and dimensions, and configuration. Such surveys also are made to obtain essential data for computing construction pay quantities.
As-built surveys are post construction surveys that show the exact final location and layout of civil
engineering works, to provide positional verification and records that include design changes.
Hydrographic surveys determine the shoreline and depths of lakes, streams, oceans, reservoirs, and other bodies of water.
Sea surveying covers surveys for port and offshore industries and the marine environment, including measurement and marine investigations by ship-borne personnel.
Solar surveying includes surveying and mapping of property boundaries, solar access easements, positions of obstructions and collectors, determination of minimum vertical sun angles, and other requirements of zoning boards and title insurance companies.
Satellite surveying provides positioning data and imagery, which is received by equipment, stored, and automatically verified in selected data coordinates with each satellite pass. Doppler and global positioning are used as standard practice in remote regions and on subdivided lands.
Global positioning system (GPS) utilizes a constellation of 24 high-altitude navigational satellites positioned in six orbital planes and spaced so that an operator of specialized equipment can receive signals from between five to eight satellites at all times.
Inertial surveying systems acquire coordinate data obtained by use of a helicopter or ground vehicle. Inertial equipment now coming into use has a dramatic impact on the installation of geodetic and cadastral control.
Photogrammetric surveys utilize terrestrial and aerial photographs or other sensors that provide data and can be a part of all the types of surveys listed in the preceding.