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Visualization Adds Confidence in the Field

Structures such as roads and sidewalks are essential components in the nation’s horizontal infrastructure. Before any construction, it’s essential to confirm that the design of these assets is correct and fits the site. In Oklahoma, a consulting firm uses augmented reality to provide real-time, on-site visualization. The approach adds speed and confidence in verifying designs and layout.

In any construction project, unchecked problems can quickly add up to escalating costs and delays. By identifying design problems before construction begins, engineers can save time and money for all project stakeholders. Stakeholders also need to confirm that the stakeout is accurate and will enable contractors to produce the intended results. But for many people, visualizing how a design will fit a site can be challenging, especially when working from traditional 2D plans. Often, it’s not until construction is underway that trouble spots become apparent.

For survey crews at Smith Roberts Baldischwiler, LLC (SRB) in Oklahoma City, the stakeout process provides the best opportunity to verify a design and look for problems. Once stakes are in the ground, field crews can identify discrepancies between the design model and existing conditions on site. But even the most experienced crews may not see all of the trouble spots or conflicts, which can open the door to costly rework.

Taylor Denniston, SRB Director of Survey and Mapping, sought to improve the quality control function that his survey crews could provide. Denniston found the solution in Trimble SiteVision, which combines 3D models, precise GNSS positioning and high resolution images on Android-based smartphones. The system enables SRB field crews to precisely overlay designs onto live images of the existing terrain. It all happens in real time and on-site to provide direct feedback and information for surveyors, engineers and contractors. The result is immediate verification and improved quality control.

Over the shoulder view of SiteVision unit in hand overlooking a construction site


“SiteVision helped our quality process for sure,” Denniston explains. “It helps us identify any issues before the project goes under construction. Locating and correcting challenges during the design phase saves our clients time and money.” He said they use SiteVision during staking to look for problems and to confirm that stakes and/or offsets are set correctly.

For example, crews use SiteVision to confirm that their stakes marking the proposed back of curb match the design model overlaid on the visual of the existing ground. This initial inspection can be done by survey crews; only if issues arise do SRB engineers need to visit the site.

SiteVision can also help if questions arise during construction—especially when contractors challenge the accuracy of the original stakes. As the SRB crews use SiteVision to verify their stakeout, they capture a video of the SiteVision display showing the stakes in the proper locations. The video evidence supplements measurement data in documenting the crews’ work.

SRB also uses SiteVision before any stakes are set. In one project, a road right-of-way needed to be widened. Normally, SRB would show landowners a drawing to explain the proposal. But in many cases the owners ask for the changes to be staked, adding time and expense even before the design is finalized. With SiteVision, SRB can walk the site with the landowners and show them exactly how the proposed right-of-way would affect their property.

SiteVision unit showing stakeout visualization

SiteVision enables SRB crews to verify stakeout for projects. In-field visualization provides increased confidence and productivity.

Denniston pointed out an added benefit to using augmented reality for right-of-way inspection and evaluation. “It doesn’t impact the land at all,” he said. “In some situations without it, there are stakes every 50 feet across an owner’s land.

The landowner needs to mow, but isn’t sure whether they can move the stakes. SiteVision gives us a fast, non-invasive way of showing where the right-of-way line is without disturbing the owner’s property.”

SRB is introducing SiteVision capabilities to its architect clients as well. By providing the ability to walk a site and see how a planned building will fit, designers can make adjustments to improve a design or mitigate conflicts with terrain or existing features.

"SiteVision has helped us with our quality control process. It helps us see an improvement before it actually gets built and reinforces our confidence before we leave a site."