Cloud-based software and data storage offers several benefits for land surveyors; however, it might not be right for your firm. How do you decide whether to jump on the cloud?
Even if your land surveying firm relies solely on desktop software applications to process data and imagery, chances are your technicians also make use of cloud-based services such as the Online Positioning User Service (OPUS), which is provided by the United States Geodetic Survey. Just like the GDS opts to store data on large remote servers and uses numerous high powered computers to process and analyze data, cloud-based data storage and software applications provide land surveyors a secure way to manage and process large amounts of complex data. Some examples of the cloud-based software applications currently available to land surveyors include:
- Packages for GNSS post processing work
- Image processing
- Point-cloud registration
- Terrain Modeling
What are the capabilities and advantages of using cloud-based software and data storage? When should land surveyors opt to stay with in-house data storage and desktop data processing and analysis solutions?
The Benefits of Cloud Computing for Land Surveying Firms
Software hosted remotely instead of locally on a desktop computer offers a multitude of bottom-line advantages for land surveying firms. Some examples of the benefits outlined in a recent xyHt include the following:
- Data processing is automated, which allows technicians to focus on other tasks. This increases productivity, allows firms the ability to complete projects faster, and to accept more projects than when they used traditional desktop software.
- Facilitates the sharing of data, analyses, models, maps, and deliverables among staff, users, clients, and other stakeholders with controlled access and permissions.
- Cloud-based software offers the high-powered computing prowess need to handle the large amounts of data generated by sensors, drones, and other field data equipment. In fact, some cloud-based software even imports field data directly from Total Stations, LiDar, drones, Land Survey GPS, and Google Earth.
- The cost of entry and ownership for cloud-based software and data storage is significantly less than desktop applications and in-house servers due to subscription payment models with cost based on usage. In addition, cloud-based services require less powerful user-side hardware, which is less expensive than that with robust processing units. Furthermore, the office-based equipment needed for cloud-based software solution consumes significantly less energy than the desktops required for locally installed software.
- The time required to complete projects using cloud-based software is much less than when desktop applications are employed. This is due to decreased processing times since cloud-based software uses distributed computing models and high powered processors. For example, drone data that may take hours to process using office-based software can be analyzed and ready for use in a fraction of that time using cloud-based applications.
- Cloud-based data storage offers convenient, space saving and secure data storage at a fraction of the cost of in-house servers. Remote data storage provides the physical security of in-house storage with the advantages of automated backups, virtually no risk of data loss due to hardware failures, and strong defenses against unauthorized access while the land surveying firm maintains ownership and control over the data.
- Since firms do not have to install, deploy, patch, and update software locally, land surveyors find their IT costs are greatly reduced when they switch to cloud-based software applications and data storage. In addition, firm principles are ensured everyone on their staff is using the same software version.
When to Opt for Desktop Software Solutions and In-House Data Storage
While the majority of land surveyors can take advantage of the benefits of cloud-based software and data storage, there are a few instances when desktop software and in-house data storage are needed:
- Many military and government contracts, especially those involving critical infrastructure, often require the use of secured desktop software applications and in-house data storage.
- Firms located in remote areas may find their Internet provider does not provide the bandwidth or speeds needed for efficient use of cloud-based applications.
Does your land surveying firm use cloud-based software? What is your experience with these applications?