A Semi-Automated Solution for Hospital Helipad Monitoring

Case study

Leica Geosystems Semi-Automated Solution for Hospital Helipad Monitoring

Author: Tom Wheatcroft, Steve Thurgood & Megan Hansen

When deformation was detected at a hospital’s emergency helicopter landing site, a team from Ridge and Partners LLP (Ridge) was contracted to provide a survey of retaining walls supporting the helipad adjacent to the hospital carpark. What started as a one-time survey developed into an ongoing, semi-automated monitoring project to assess the helipad structure’s safety.

With the help of Leica Geosystems equipment and monitoring software, including the Leica MS60 MultiStation and GeoMoS Now! Survey Edition, Ridge provides their client with the comprehensive and clear data needed to implement preventative actions and ensure the safety of the nearby carpark while stabilisation works move forward. Beyond the Helipad project, Ridge has adopted monitoring into their service portfolio, extending existing knowledge and instrument investments into new projects and revenue streams.

Deformation of the hospital helipad

As the area’s primary emergency and accident hospital and one of the largest in the UK, the hospital specialises in trauma and other intensive care services. Its helicopter landing site, the helipad, quickly connects the region’s emergency patients with the medical care they need. 

Therefore, when a routine inspection of the helipad identified movement and possible deformation, it was important for the hospital to assess the situation, identify damage and create a data-based plan of action for ensuring the safety of the landing area. The client turned to the experienced engineering and surveying experts at Ridge and Partners LLP (Ridge) for this project.

Ridge, a property and construction consultancy with multidisciplinary services, offers a variety of specialties for public and private sector projects including heritage, infrastructure, public safety and more. The company values entrepreneurial and dynamic approaches to solving clients’ problems, a core value that was well represented in this case when a survey turned into a monitoring project and, ultimately, new services for the business.

 Hospital Helipad Semi-Autometd Monitoring


From manual to semi-automated monitoring

Ridge’s involvement with the helipad project began with survey work including scans and topography of the landing zone for drawing analysis. This initial survey supported the findings and detected deformations from ground movements. The hospital wanted to know if movement was still occurring, leading to structural damages that might render the helipad unsafe.

The survey team at Ridge decided to take on the challenge and create a monitoring scheme to answer this question. By measuring the same points at regular intervals over a set period, they could identify movements and deformations to the helipad structure.

When they began monitoring, Ridge designed a manual campaign with 5 reference points, a fixed pillar and 15 monitoring points with L Bar monitoring prisms. In manual monitoring, the surveyor takes all measurements, uploads the data, and completes quality assurance checks and reporting. While the project did not require continuous automated monitoring, the frequency of measurement collection meant that a completely manual setup was time and resource intensive.

Consulting their local Leica Geosystems team, Ridge learned they could take advantage of the same equipment they were already using to set up a semi-automated monitoring solution. Leica Geosystems total stations, like the MS60 MultiStation used by Ridge, include software and robotics that enable automatic point measurements, minimising human error in data collection and maximising the speed and efficiency of measurement tasks.

Additionally, by pairing their robotic total stations with the monitoring service, Leica GeoMoS Now! Survey Edition, Ridge could publish results to a secure cloud account directly from the instrument, streamlining their monitoring workflow.

Leica Geosystems Semi-Automated Solution for Hospital Helipad Monitoring

Monitoring project success and services expansion

Ridge decided to integrate the solution into the helipad project: “With the help of the local Leica team, we moved to semi-automated monitoring and received workflow training. On the first day, the semi-automated system was setup and reporting,” says Tom Wheatcroft, Geospatial Technical Associate at Ridge and Partners. 

Primarily using the MS60, they established parameters and enabled automated data capture. Measurements were then automatically uploaded to the cloud and confirmed for quality assurance.

“We saw a reduction in random & systematic errors and streamlined our data processing due to the semi-automated recording of monitoring points. It also makes data entry and point identification parameters easier,” explains Wheatcroft.

Once uploaded to GeoMoS Now!, the online monitoring service calculated deformations and created customised graphs that were accessible on a password protected dashboard. Client stakeholders could easily view and download reports and make informed engineering decisions based on clearly visualised data.

Graph: A Semi-Automated Solution for Hospital Helipad Monitoring

Over the initial six-month monitoring campaign, Ridge confirmed that deformation was occurring, and the hospital is taking action to stabilise the structure and prevent future damage. While Ridge continues to monitor the helipad site, monitoring is no longer a single client service:

“The system enabled us to work confidently in monitoring,” reflects Wheatcroft. “We have added extra services to the surveying business and, with these extra services, expanded solutions for our clients.”


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