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Scanning Realities

Laser-focused insights into the current geospatial landscape and beyond

Monitoring buildings over time with continuous digital scanning
NavVisMay 31, 20244 min read

Monitoring buildings over time with continuous digital scanning

Buildings can undergo major changes throughout their lifecycle. Whether these changes are due to alterations or storm damage, continual scanning with mobile mapping technology guarantees that owners and work teams always have access to the most up-to-date information.

It is crucial to monitor changes and modifications to a building’s plans and structure during construction and throughout its lifecycle.

Unrecorded alterations to buildings can create safety hazards such as impairing accessibility for users, or altering the integrity of the building and its load-bearing capacity. Adaptations to buildings are also subject to various regulations concerning health and safety, site and building design. Non-compliance with such regulations can result in penalties and obligations to remediate.

Additionally, all buildings naturally deteriorate over time to varying levels. However, the effects of storms, excessive rain or temperature can accelerate this rate of deterioration, leading to an increased risk of damage to the building structure. If missed, these changes can lead to higher maintenance costs, and increased insurance and liability risks.

On top of all this, the increasing complexity of modern building projects, often across multiple sites, and the construction industry is facing significant challenges.

What is required is a method of recording precise, up-to-date measurements of structural modifications and any damage, with this being easily accessible to stakeholders anytime. Innovative technologies based on mobile mapping and laser scanning techniques can generate precise 3D representations available on the cloud, which can be updated over time.

By regular rescanning, any alterations or damage can be quickly identified and actioned if necessary. Utilizing spatial data and images collected on-site, with laser scanning from mobile mapping equipment, Building Information Modeling (BIM) models and plans can be quickly updated. This ensures that as-built conditions are reviewed alongside original drawings.


Already the industry is taking note of these advancements. Results of a survey into investment intentions in construction, conducted by GlobalData in 2023, had 62% of respondents stating they had already invested in BIM. Meanwhile, 65% of respondents had invested in cloud computing technology. Internet of Things (IoT) enabled equipment and mobile applications are also technologies that have relatively high levels of investment, with over 50% of respondents saying they intended to invest further in the next two years.


Mobile mapping: An upgrade for building monitoring

In recent years, the key advancement in monitoring buildings has been the use of digital inspection technologies. Initial data is collected by scanning equipment or drones, with a 3D model created for full BIM integration.

Scanning technologies can also reduce the risk of inaccuracies in construction drawings, reducing wasted time caused by missed changes. For building management, scanning technologies provide a more accurate and detailed understanding of the building’s structure. This can be particularly useful in the context of renovations, where understanding existing infrastructure is crucial.

With regular scanning over time, information-rich 3D visualizations, precise spatial data, and panoramic image can show historical changes, recent shifts, and real-time surveys. This provides users with almost everything they need to know about a building, with the ability to view and compare alterations, record changes to layouts and monitor deterioration.


Greater precision in building data

Mobile mapping technology is revolutionizing levels of accuracy and point cloud data point cloud. Such technology can collect up to two million data points per second, providing comprehensive spatial data much faster than traditional surveys or static terrestrial laser scans.

This is particularly useful in capturing minor changes, errors or deviations from designs that occur during the construction stage, which are often hard to capture in 2D plans.

Reality capture technology can also be used for damage assessment, especially for emergency inspections after a disaster event. This helps in making decisions on whether a building is structurally sound or in danger of collapsing and can be used by insurance companies.

Significant recent advances in cloud computing allow for real-time communication and collaboration among team members, regardless of their physical location. Using the cloud enables a management or design team to work and collaborate with construction sites around the world in real-time, with instant accessibility of data and images.


The advantages of continuous scanning

A leader in reality capture technologies, NavVis provides advanced solutions for monitoring buildings and construction sites. NavVis’ cutting-edge reality capture technology allows AEC professionals to easily compare the physical state of a structure to original plans and drawings. Complete coverage eliminates any blind spots in the condition of a building, and by rescanning, changes over time can be monitored accurately, with plans updated, and maintenance conducted correctly.

NavVis VLX mobile laser scanning device allows the scanning and monitoring of buildings and sites quickly and the ease-of-use means that non-experts can understand how to use it in a short amount of time. NavVis VLX quickly captures complete spatial data and 360° images of a site with absolute precision, regardless of the complexity of the environment. The operator monitors scanning progress in real- time, with the system able to scan complex indoor spaces just as well as construction sites, generating point clouds of survey-grade quality.

Furthermore, by combining NavVis VLX mobile mapping system with NavVis IVION Core online platform, AEC professionals have complete visibility before, during, and after construction. All information collected by NavVis VLX is easily accessible on NavVis IVION. This includes when building alterations are made or damage occurs, with recorded times in the datasets.

All stakeholders can access the same sets of scanned data through the web-based platform, which is accessible via a standard web browser.

Fire safety inspectors can locate escape routes, insurers can help determine the integrity of a building, contractors can plan works on the site remotely, or potential buyers can study the history, all without even setting foot inside the actual building.

Read more about the importance of reality capture in retrofitting and renovation projects, especially when it comes to reducing the environmental impact of construction →