Telecommunications Laser Scanning: An Overview

Commercially introduced in 1998, laser scanning plays an integral role in industries that require the collection of spatial data, one of which is the telecommunications industry. Implementing communications infrastructure consists of three basic measures: (1.) launching satellite technology where necessary; (2.) finding the right ground locations for telecommunications equipment (towers and paths of line); and (3.) finding a way to make ground infrastructure work in relation to its environment. Of these three measures, 3D scanning can be especially helpful to accomplishing the last two.Telecommunications Laser Scanning: Mapping and ModelingThe first step in establishing ground infrastructure is conducting topographical and aerial mapping of proposed implementation sites. For the installation of towers, aerial mapping and subterranean mapping (the latter to discover utility lines or unstable terrain) may be sufficient. But for telephone lines, long distance topographical mapping is required as well. Typically accomplished by a time-of-flight scanner, which uses a laser rangefinder to measure the round trip time of a beam from the scanner to the scan subject and back, topographical mapping helps to establish line paths in relation to general terrain features, such as roadways, train tracks, hills and mountains, waterways, and residential living.Once a path is chosen topographically, aerial mapping of the path, which occurs at a bird’s eye view, is used to study the path for characteristics not visible from satellite view. With a path approved by both mapping methods, its design phase commences, which uses CAD models to model ground infrastructure in relation to its environment. Useful for both towers and line equipment, modeling equipment in relation to its environment has several benefits, such as anticipating public response to towers and line paths, as homeowners commonly oppose installations that could affect property value.Turning Modeling into RealityWith all considerations made, implementation proceeds, using scan data as a reference. But the value of telecommunications laser scanning doesn’t end with a project’s completion. As long as the equipment remains in place, its scan data can be used for troubleshooting, maintenance, rerouting, and even reverse engineering as new technology becomes available. In addition to its superior accuracy and ease of manipulation, the usefulness of scan data to future endeavors is one of it main selling points.Long-term Cost SavingsRegarding cost savings, scanners are commonly praised for their abbreviation of the traditional surveying process and the costly sub processes that it entails. But perhaps its greatest cost savings benefit comes from putting editable project data in the hands of the project company, a benefit that could save millions on large reroutes or retrofits by eliminating the need to hire out more surveying in the future. For more information on the cost of scanner projects and their price compared to traditional surveying, contact a professional scan service.