Wortwolke Vermessung und Geoinformatik

What is surveying and geoinformatics?

A look at the versatile and exciting field of work

The earth! It is the workplace of engineers in surveying and geoinformatics, or "geodesists" for short. It is their job to record, map and visualise the world in 3D.
As diverse as our earth is, as comprehensive are the fields of application of geoinformatics and surveying engineers.

They enable the creation of buildings, dimensionally accurate products, and navigation and geoinformation systems. They provide the (geometric) basis for the management of land, as well as supply and disposal networks. The intelligent maps of their geoinformation systems are used for political and corporate strategic decisions.

The following compilation "What does a geoinformation engineer or surveyor do?" shows the extreme diversity of the job description- which is often also summarized under the generic term "geodesy".

In order to perform the exciting tasks, powerful software is used in addition to state-of-the-art measuring equipment and sensors.


Zahl der Grenzpunkte in Baden-Württemberg


der kommerziell genutzten Drohnen werden in der Vermessung verwendet. Quelle: VUL-Marktstudie von Drone Industry Insights Oktober 2018

What does a geoinformation engineer or a surveyor do?

Vermessung und Geoinformatik Messübung

Engineering survey

Surveying for the construction of complex structures such as high-rise buildings, roads, railways, bridges and tunnels.

Tasks here are as-built surveys, planning, setting out construction axes and heights, deformation and control measurements, as well as mass determination and construction accounting. Other tasks include vehicle and machine guidance.

Technically advanced and precise equipment such as total stations, GNSS (GPS) equipment, laser scanners, digital levels, and UAV/survey drones are used for these measurement tasks.

Employers: engineering firms, construction companies, surveying departments in government agencies, industrial and transportation companies.

Industrielle Messtechnik mit Streifenlicht-Projektions-System Atos

Industrial metrology

Surveying of highest precision in plant engineering, monitoring measurements and quality assurance.

A special field of application of engineering surveying is industrial metrology, where measurements of highest precision are carried out in plant engineering (e.g. positioning of large machines) or in the monitoring of industrial plants (e.g. power plants).

For quality assurance of produced goods, manufactured products are checked for dimensional accuracy using industrial metrology methods. The same techniques are also used to digitize prototype models - reverse engineering.

In addition to the measuring instruments mentioned in the subject area of engineering measurement, laser interferometers, laser trackers, triangulation lasers and photogrammetric systems are also used here.

Employers: engineering offices, construction companies, industrial and transport companies.


Geoinformatics makes it possible to combine spatial data with factual data (e.g. statistical data). This results in intelligent, digital maps and geoinformation systems (GIS), which serve as a basis for planning, often also for political and corporate strategic decisions.

They are used: In public administration and politics, in urban and regional planning, in environmental protection, in facility management, in the operation and maintenance of supply and disposal networks.

This requires the structuring, storage, management and processing of spatial data. The application and development of information and communication technologies (geodata management) is also part of this. Popular applications of geoinformatics known to the general public include route planners, GoogleMaps, GoogleEarth and BingMaps.

Numerous, powerful software packages are available for these tasks, which are used together with common computer technology. Mobile devices (tablets, smartphones, etc. ), Internet technologies, and AI are also used.

Employers: users of geoinformation systems, utilities and waste management companies, city planning offices, administration, surveying offices, software houses.


Photogrammetry and remote sensing

In photogrammetry and remote sensing, objects (earth's surface, buildings, manufactured products, etc.) are measured in three dimensions with the help of images, aerial and satellite images, but also laser scan data.

From these measurements maps, as well as 2D and 3D models can be created (A popular application of such data for "everyone" is GoogleEarth). This can be used to create 3D information systems and vegetation analysis, but also to perform quality control in industry.

Employers: photogrammetry companies, environmental protection agencies, surveying and land reclamation administrations, industrial companies.

(Source aerial photo: Trimble GmbH)



Land management encompasses various processes and instruments for the sustainable development and ordering of space.

In addition to spatial development and communal urban land use planning, this includes the reorganization of land and the valuation of real estate. Furthermore, it is the task of land management to define property boundaries accordingly and to map the earth's surface in (official) maps and plans. These serve as a basis for both formal and informal planning and development measures in urban and rural areas. In all fields of action of land management, the focus is on a sustainable and careful use of the finite resource "soil".

Employers: Publicly appointed surveyors (ÖBVI), surveying and land readjustment departments of the district offices.


Basic Geodesy

Basic geodesy deals with the measurement and mapping of the earth's surface, as well as the determination of the physical shape of the earth (geoid) with the help of gravity field measurements.

It also determines and establishes coordinate reference systems, as well as practical computational methods for creating the spatial reference of geospatial data, such as GNSS (GPS) measurements.

Employers: state surveying offices, research institutes, universities.

Maschinensteuerungs-Sensoren an einem Modellbagger

Software and device development, machine control

Development of software and measuring devices for geodesy applications and control of (construction) machines.

Other tasks include the testing and distribution of these products, as well as their support and the provision of training.

Employers: Numerous and often globally operating software companies, equipment manufacturers, construction companies and construction machinery manufacturers.

Hydrographie Prinzipskizze Fächerecholot

Hydrographic surveys

Hydrographic surveying is concerned with determining the contours, dimensions and depths of all bodies of water (seas, rivers, lakes, groundwater).

These waters are also described and depicted on maps. Echo sounders and sonars as well as GPS (GNSS) devices are used to determine the position.

Employers: engineering offices, water navigation offices.

Vermessung und Geoinformatik Einsatz in der Polarfoschung

Special applications

Since the subject areas of geodesy are on the one hand very broad, and on the other hand are often used interdisciplinary, there are very many application areas that are summarized under special applications.

These are, for example, the conception of special procedures for special individual projects, software development, consulting, sales and marketing and the application of techniques of geodesy in special fields. Some examples are listed below:

Archaeological Surveys

Application of engineering surveying, photogrammetry and remote sensing, and geoinformatics to the survey, documentation and analysis of monuments, excavation sites, etc.

Employers: research institutes, archaeological offices, monument offices.

Polar research / climate research

With the help of satellite surveys, photogrammetry and remote sensing, changes in glaciers and the ice masses at the polar regions are recorded. The flow velocity and the mass change (height decrease) of sea ice and glaciers are determined. Photogrammetry and remote sensing techniques are also used to determine the condition of vegetation, desertification, siltation of lakes, etc. The results are used for the documentation of climate changes and also for the creation of climate models. With the help of geoinformatics, meaningful representations and maps can be created for this purpose.

Employers: research institutes, universities.


The term forensics covers the fields of work in which criminal acts are systematically identified or ruled out, as well as analyzed or reconstructed. In addition, forensic medicine attempts to reconstruct the circumstances of death or accidents. Illustration of the results of forensic reconstruction by means of graphic images and explanatory text makes it possible to communicate the results of analysis to third parties more clearly and objectively than a protocol can. In addition, it is possible to animate the data and present it in video clips. In addition to photogrammetry, tacheometry and GNSS (GPS), laser scanning is also used in forensics to document accidents and crime scenes. In addition, the techniques known from medicine are computer tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.

Employers: Forensic department at police authorities, expert offices.

Publish date: 11. July 2022