Verifying absolute accuracy for records to help the world

Case study

Author: Richard Davies

It is March 2020, and British artist Sacha Jafri is one of many to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic when he found himself stuck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, during a lockdown. Famous around the world for his large-format paintings, Mr Jafri has been dedicated to helping people, especially the young, throughout his career. Over the past 18 years, sales of his paintings have helped to raise USD $60m for children’s charities around the world, and so he decided that he would use his time in lockdown to make a positive impact on a variety of people and organisations.

His ‘Humanity Inspired’ project set out with two clear goals: raise $30 million USD for various charities whilst setting a new world record for the ‘Largest Painted Art Canvas in the World’. Children from across the globe were invited to share their own artworks online, with a theme of ‘connection and isolation’; Mr Jafri then used these submissions as a base for the 17,000-square-foot artwork he planned to create. The response was phenomenal; children from 140 countries sent in their work, with over 6,000 submissions the first 24 hours alone. Mr Jafri needed a workspace large enough to lay out and paint the huge canvas, and the ballroom of the famous Atlantis, The Palm hotel in Dubai was chosen as a suitable venue.

Making it official

To achieve the world record, Mr Jafri needed to verify the authenticity of the record attempt and the actual canvas size. Guinness World Records are an organisation that collate and publish notable records of many feats, and their record adjudicators answered the call to make sure the painting was created precisely and was large enough to set a world record.

The adjudicators understood that the size of the canvas would need to be verified with absolute accuracy and approached Dubai-based PRD Survey Services to assist in the measurement. Since 2010, PRD has become one of the region’s leading survey consultancies in horizontal and vertical mixed-use communities and complex strata titling subdivisions. They provide a full suite of survey consultancy, on-site surveying, plan preparation and titles registration services to developers throughout the Middle East region. To complete many of their tasks, they are using a Leica RTC360 3D Laser Scanner.

The right equipment

PRD agreed to carry out the measurement of the world record attempt free-of-charge and assigned their Survey and Special Projects Manager, Chris McGinty, a Chartered Land Surveyor from the United Kingdom, to carry out the measurement. In 2019, Chris was responsible for driving PRD’s adoption of Reality Capture technology when they invested in their RTC360. As an existing customer of Leica Geosystems, he did not hesitate to approach the local Leica Geosystems technical support team in Dubai for support with the world record project; this is a team that he is familiar with, as they were there to assist PRD at every stage of their adoption of Reality Capture technology.

A joint decision was made to take two products to measure the canvas in order to provide redundancy: a Leica Nova MS60 MultiStation, and PRD’s RTC360. Both instruments provided the accuracy required for the record attempt, but the RTC360 was selected on the day to measure the record due to the high density of points it was able to measure in a short space of time. Due to the canvas sides being unreliable and showing deviations, an accuracy of around +/10mm was predicted.

According to McGinty,

“It was a high-pressure environment that was being filmed, so the measurements had to be correct. We needed to make sure that PRD did not make a mistake and make sure we selected the right equipment that could be relied upon.”

Once the 3D representation of the canvas was captured with the RTC360, the data was quickly downloaded, processed and inspected using Leica Cyclone FIELD 360 software. This allowed the team to provide the Guinness World Records adjudicators with accurate measurements of the canvas extremely quickly. McGinty was able to confirm that the canvas did indeed set a new world record – the organisers were amazed by the technology used and delighted with the speed and accuracy of the results.

Local support

McGinty has been using Leica Geosystems products for over 35 years, and worked with legacy instruments such as the acclaimed Wild T2 Theodolite and the Wild T2002 electronic theodolite. He states that PRD chose to invest in the RTC360, primarily due to local relationships and the support provided in Dubai.

“There is always somebody you can pick up the phone and speak to. This level of support is something that has always influenced our choosing of Leica Geosystems. I also find that the solutions offered are highly refined - from usability, compatibility, accessories and even the packaging. Everything just works,” says McGinty.

It was decided by PRD that two of their 18 surveyors would be trained to use the RTC360 3D laser scanner. This training took the form of a dedicated two-day training course, delivered by the local technical support team based in Dubai. McGinty believes that despite his team being new to Reality Capture technology, they found the RTC360 very easy to use from the beginning, although he is thankful they received ongoing support from the local technical team during this period.

The team are mainly using their RTC360 3D laser scanner for checking plans of existing buildings. The information is then utilised in submissions to the Dubai Land Department and other authorities for issues surrounding titling and areas of commercial premises. PRD believe capturing the full floorplate of these premises in the form of a 3D point cloud ensures absolute accuracy of measurements. This means all parties involved are far more confident that the information they submit is correct. The speed of the RTC360 is also beneficial to PRD, as limited access to commercial sites means they have to be very quick when capturing data. They also believe that capturing all of the data and then being able to visualise sites using Leica Cyclone REGISTER 360 software when back in the office prevents returns to the site, which can be costly and time-consuming.

According to McGinty, this is even more important due to COVID-19 restrictions,

“Our staff need to be tested for COVID-19 in order to travel to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, where we are based. After the fourth day of travelling into Abu Dhabi, they need to be re-tested. This is time-consuming and costly. The RTC360 allows us to capture all the data we need within the 4-day window, even on a large site. We can then inspect the data using Leica Cyclone software when back in the office and take what we need. Nothing is missed.”

Benefitting business in the long term

PRD are very satisfied with RTC360 and especially with the speed of support and assistance received from the local team, both during the initial training and beyond. McGinty believes that the hardware and software solutions provided by Leica Geosystems can really help PRD diversify and grow their business whilst benefitting their customers.

“The Leica RTC360 has allowed us to offer more services to our customers and complete jobs faster. The number of visits to site are reduced; this all helps us to be more efficient and to offer of these cost-effective to customers,” explains McGinty.

PRD are now investigating the Leica BLK2GO handheld imaging laser scanner, that recreates spaces in 3D as you move. It is handheld, wireless, and lightweight, designed for fast capture reality on the move, anywhere the user goes. They believe that this may be the next step in their development, allowing them to offer more services and higher efficiency to their trusted customers.

As for Mr Jafri, he is now officially in the record book and the sale of his painting has begun, with 70 individually numbered, signed, catalogued, and framed panels being individually auctioned over the coming 12 months. The proceeds will help some of the poorest communities in the world, with a goal of saving 10 million child-lives. He also hopes to “bring education, healthcare and opportunities to those that have previously had neither, with the goal of giving those that need it most a very real opportunity to change the world around them.”

More information on this worthwhile cause can be found on the Humanity Inspired website:

The world’s largest painting, which was created by British artist Sacha Jafri, has been sold for £45m to raise funds for children's charities – read the BBC News article.

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