The Future of Surveying is Virtual
A Conversation with Geospatial Student Ryan Court
As part of his series ‘Speaking with the Leaders in the Irish Survey Industry’, John Kerrigan, Country Manager in Ireland for Leica Geosystems, recently interviewed Audrey Martin, Senior Lecturer of Geographic Science at TU Dublin. A viewer of the conversation, which discussed all things to do with the future of surveying, suggested that John should speak with one of the course students. As a result, John reached out to the current student-body to see if anybody would be interested.
Keen to encourage students to follow in his footsteps, 4th year student Ryan Court volunteered. Like a lot of surveyors, Ryan took to surveying because of a love of geography and maths, and was further encouraged by family members also in the industry.
John spoke to Ryan about the future of surveying, the impact of the Metaverse, Ryan’s experience with the surveying course, and how his dissertation has led to him starting his very own company.
Getting into Surveying
When speaking to people in the industry, there’s a definite trend of generational backgrounds in surveying. Ryan first heard about the course through his father, an engineer, and grandfather, a land-surveyor. In fact, back in the early 1970’s Ryan’s grandfather was using Leica instruments out in the field. And so, when it came to choosing his degree, he knew the course was the right one for him. Ryan told John, “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made, and I’ve loved every moment. It’s been a truly great journey so far and I can’t wait to get out there and put what I’ve learned into practice.”
One of his most favourite moments of the course was a project for a module called Problem-Based Learning, which Audrey also talked about in her own interview. The problem the students were faced with was how to market the course to prospective leaving-cert students. Graduates from the course are always in great demand, but unfortunately the demand isn’t being met.
Ryan and his group realised that although there is plenty of marketing on platforms like LinkedIn, that’s not where prospective students are likely to be. The group started an Instagram page called ‘Geospatial Surveying’ to target 16-18 year olds, and a Facebook page to reach mature students. In just 8-10 weeks the page grew to 200 followers, and the group is regularly publishing content to market the course’s value. John loved the idea, and commented, “We as an industry need initiatives like this to try and communicate how fantastic the industry and profession really is. We need new ideas, and the younger generation like yourself is bringing them.”
From Dissertation to Established Company
Survey technology is always advancing and evolving. We’re now seeing LiDAR scanning technology in our phones and tablets, which demonstrates how companies like Apple are recognising the significance of surveying.
For his dissertation, Ryan is currently working on a review on measuring technologies in the current residential and real estate market. Specifically, he is comparing the Leica BLK360 to the iPad Pro’s new LiDAR scanning technology. His aim is to assess the accuracy of the iPad Pro and see if it's suitable for use in the real estate market. One outcome he's trying to figure out is whether a realtor can walk into a home that they're trying to sell, with just their phone’s LiDAR scanner, and create deliverables such as floor plans and virtual tours.
But he didn’t stop there. Through his research into real estate measuring tools, he noticed an opportunity in the market. Ryan, alongside his degree, has founded the company VuProp. VuProp specialises in virtual tours for residential and commercial properties, which can be applied across almost any industry, such as education, retail, real estate, and hospitality. Ryan explained, “It’s all about immersing people in the environment, so they can visit from anywhere in the world. I threw myself into the deep end but it’s been such a great experience, and the more I work on my dissertation the more I can develop VuProp.”
How the Metaverse will Transform the Survey Industry
The announcement of the Metaverse has prompted a lot of buzz in the survey industry. Customer interfaces are about to change, and to bring anything from reality into the virtual world, you need scanners. This puts surveying at the forefront of future technology, and the fact phones are being made with LiDAR
technology only proves this further.
John commented, “Things like the Metaverse will all need to be mapped, and geospatial surveyors and scientists will be the ones to come in and build it. It’s opening a whole new market for geospatial professionals, making it the perfect time for students to get involved and join the industry.”
There’s no better time to get into surveying, and Ryan is testament to that.