RICS Draft Global Guidance Note: Earth observation and aerial surveys, 6th edition

RICS Draft Guidance Note: Earth observation and aerial surveys, 6th edition

1 Introduction

Earth observation and aerial surveys are used to capture, store and process reflected and emitted radiation from the earth's surface. The techniques employed include aerial photography, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and hyperspectral, multispectral and thermal imaging systems. Survey instruments are typically carried by satellites, fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and increasingly by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Earth observation and aerial survey data are used to help understand climate change, develop smart cities and contribute to the development of digital twins, improving the efficiency of the construction industry and infrastructure sector. Specific applications include:

  • national mapping
  • cadastral mapping
  • transportation infrastructure
  • asset management
  • land cover classification
  • navigation and
  • 3D city modelling.

Organisations are looking to the power of geospatial data to provide insight into our natural and built environments. This will enable improved management of these resources, which will in turn contribute towards a more sustainable future.

1.1 Scope

This guidance note is intended for use by land, sea, engineering and environmental professionals who are acting in an advisory capacity, and by survey-knowledgeable clients who specify their own surveys. It is also intended to be used by earth observation and aerial survey specialists.

It will help clients communicate their goals, and what they expect to receive in terms of:

  • types of data
  • accuracy
  • resolution
  • survey detail and
  • final deliverables.

It will help both parties clarify issues such as project constraints and timescales.

This guidance note incorporates a full revision of Vertical aerial photography and digital imagery (5th edition), RICS guidance note. New sections on LiDAR and hyperspectral, multispectral and thermal imaging systems have been added.

The following topics are covered in this guidance note:

  • sections 2-3: pre-project considerations, including the different data capture platforms available and planning requirements
  • sections 4-7: the techniques of aerial photography, LiDAR, sensing in the non-visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum and earth observation and
  • section 8: future developments in earth observation and aerial survey techniques.

This guidance note also contains sample specifications, an accuracy and resolution table that combines information about each technique and an expanded glossary in the appendices.

1.2 Effective date

This guidance note is effective three months from publication.