Surveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them. These points are usually on the surface of the Earth, and they are often used to establish land maps and boundaries.

An alternative definition, per the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM), is the science and art of making all essential measurements to determine the relative position of points or physical and cultural details above, on, or beneath the surface of the Earth, and to depict them in a usable form, or to establish the position of points or details

Surveying has been an essential element in the development of the human environment since the beginning of recorded history (about 5,000 years ago). It is required in the planning and execution of nearly every form of construction. Its most familiar modern uses are in the fields of transport, building and construction, communications, mapping, and the definition of legal boundaries for land ownership.

Surveying is the measurement, analysis and presentation of land-based geospatial information, that is, information about the size, shape, nature and location of aspects of our physical environment.

Types of Survey:-

Surveying can be used in a very wide range of interesting areas including engineering and topographical (city and town) surveying; cadastral surveying (the definition of property boundaries); mining and hydrographic surveying (depth of water, nature of sea beds, location of currents etc.); land development and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The main disciplines

  • Cadastral Surveying.
  • Engineering Surveying.
  • Geodetic Surveying.
  • Geographic Information Systems.
  • Hydrographic Surveying.
  • Mining Surveying.
  • Photogrammetry./li>
  • Remote Sensing.
  • GPS Survey
  • Camera Drive Survey

Types of Surveying

There is a great deal of overlap with the different types of surveying. However in general terms they can be describes as follows. View the videos to the right for more information about each area.


Surveyors involved in land development are usually registered surveyors as legislated by the Surveying Act 2002. The Board of Surveying and Spatial Information is responsible for the registration process. Registered surveyors are often referred to as cadastral surveyors because of their involvement in maintaining the cadastre by the locating and marking of property boundaries. Registration requires a demonstration of competence in engineering, planning and all laws relating to the subdivision of land.


This type of surveying relates to mapping rivers, oceans and waterways in general. Hydrography plays an important role in preparation of navigational information for shipping as well as exploration of marine resources.


Engineering surveyors are involved in the setting out of construction projects that can be of enormous scale such as high rise buildings, roads, bridges, transmission lines etc. They can also be involved in the subsequent monitoring of the completed structure to ensure safety is maintained.


The making of Maps (Cartography) has become as high-tech as any other industry with images taken by aircraft and satellites. The Cartographer then uses these images combined with other information about the area to construct the maps.

Environmental Planning

Surveyors are involved in research projects such as global warming, monitoring of existing environments such as whale movements in the waters off the north coast of New South Wales and providing environmental impact statements for new developments.

GPS Satellite Surveying & Satellite Imagery

Surveyors use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in all kinds of surveying. Satellite imagery is also being used to monitor movements on the earth’s surface – earth quake zones, potential mud slides or even troops on the move in a war zone.

Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems are simply layers of spatially interrelated maps. The layers may include information about roads, underground services, types of trees, location of retail outlets or population distribution for example. A GIS specialist links the layers so that they can be used to analyse, plan and make changes that meet the needs of the community or the environment.


Mining surveyors use the same skills as those involved in land or engineering surveys but are required to undertake additional training to manage underground work. Mining surveyors, like land surveyors are required to be registered by BOSSI.

Why is Surveying important?

We depend on surveying to ensure order in the physical world around us. Surveyors play an integral role in land development, from the planning and design of land subdivisions through to the final construction of roads, utilities and landscaping.

Surveyors are among good company, working closely with their peers in the fields of engineering, architecture, geology and planning. Their role underpins these industries; Surveyors are the first people on any construction site, measuring and mapping the land. These primary measurements are then used by architects to understand and make the most of the unique landscape when designing and engineers to plan structures accurately and safely; ensuring buildings not only fit with the landscape but are able to be constructed.