By Michael Delos Reyes
Have you come across individuals wearing bright-colored vests and hard hats that operate camera-like instruments along the side of the roads or on a construction site? I guess you wondered what they were doing and even posed for a picture when you thought they focused the instrument on you and hoped that they would get nothing but your best angle. Unfortunately, they are not photographers or anything of the like. They are Geodetic Engineers (GE) and the instrument that they use is not for photography, rather, it is called a Total Station, a piece of equipment that can measure distances and angles to lay out the boundaries of a parcel of land.
Who are Geodetic Engineers?
In the Philippines, Geodetic Engineers (GE) are licensed professionals accredited by the Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) to do geodetic surveying works. Sometimes called by the unfamiliar ones as surveyors, lisensyadong maninilip, or agrimensores, Geodetic Engineers are the ones authorized to establish property boundaries. Unlike surveyors, these folks acquired their hard-earned PRC licenses after passing the Geodetic Engineering Board Exam administered by the PRC and taking the Oath of Profession of Geodetic Engineers before the Board of Geodetic Engineering. Their practices are governed by the statutes prescribed in the Philippine Geodetic Engineering Act of 1998 (R.A. 8560) and its internal rules and regulations.
What does a GE do?
Geodetic Engineers provide information to guide the work of other engineers, architects, urban and regional planners, geologists, and developers. They typically measure distances and angles between points on, above, and below the Earth’s surface. They go to survey sites and locate reference points or “mojon” and utilize them to determine the position of specific features. They examine land records, survey records, and land titles and validate them if they are up to date and accurate on the ground. They record data from field surveys and verify its accuracy, from which they prepare plots, maps, and reports that will be presented to clients and government agencies. They also provide spatial data to assess the surrounding terrain and landscape, as well as the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for the purpose of development in engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects. And last but not least is that Geodetic Engineers establish official land and water boundaries for deeds, leases, and other legal documents and testify in court regarding survey work.
Tools and Equipment
Geodetic Engineers use different methods and technologies to acquire spatial data which includes GPS, GIS, Total Stations, 3D scanners, Digital Levels, graduated rods, drones, and other instruments that are used to determine the metes and bounds of lands, the position of points on the surface of the Earth, ground elevation, water depth, and other features related to geodesy. Total Station is currently the most common instrument used by a GE. It is useful for measuring vertical angles, horizontal angles, distances, and coordinates.
GEs also utilize the Global Positioning System (GPS), a system of satellites that locates reference points with a high degree of precision, to collect relevant information about the terrain they are surveying and interpret and verify the results on a computer. They are also highly trained to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a platform to organize, interpret, analyze, and present spatial data through various methods and visualizations.
There are other services a Geodetic Engineer can provide depending on the client’s needs. Lira Perin Habana, the owner of LPH Land Surveying Services, has been a licensed GE since 2014. She is a registered member of the Geodetic Engineers of the Philippines – NCR Chapter (GEP-NCR) and has been consistently providing reliable service to their clients since 2016.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Surveyors, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/surveyors.htm (visited July 18, 2021).
Professional Regulation Commission, Republic of the Philippines, General Practice of Geodetic Engineering at https://www.prc.gov.ph/geodetic-engineering (visited July 18, 2021).