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 Technology&more

D’Aloia has experienced the land’s treachery first-hand—he 
was once stranded 40 km (25 mi) from base camp in 40°C 
(104°F) heat. D’Aloia and his colleague laid fabric over their 
broken-down vehicle’s windshield for shade and conserved 
water with small sips every 15 minutes. “The mind plays tricks 
on you to start walking,” says D’Aloia. If it hadn’t been for the 
job’s careful booking in-and-out safety procedure, colleagues 
would not have known to rescue them nine hours later. 

It’s important to D’Aloia that his teams know he’s endured the 
same challenges they’re now working through. “Australia was 
built upon the sweat of the surveyor,” says D’Aloia. “Especially 
in dividing up pastoral areas so they could be utilized.” D’Aloia 
feels as much satisfaction from his colleagues’ achievements as 
he does his own. 

Wider Knowledge Needed 
“Surveyors need to know a lot more now than when I started 
out,” says D’Aloia. For example, when assessing an area for a 
potential pipeline in Australia, D’Aloia today must wear the vari-
ous hats of an environmentalist (knowing what trees to avoid), 
a construction professional (understanding how pipelines 
are laid), and a cultural heritage expert (recognizing where 
Aboriginal artifacts or burial sites might be located). But the 
single biggest change in D’Aloia’s—and his colleagues’—daily 
surveying life is the technology. 

On D’Aloia’s first surveying job, he relied heavily on a chain, but 
he soon had his hands on the revolutionary new GPS technol-
ogy of the nineties.

Fyfe began using GPS surveying systems in 1997, beginning 
with the Trimble 4700 and 4800 systems. They now use ap-
proximately 50 sets of Trimble GNSS equipment and 25–30 
sets of Trimble total stations. They also employ GIS and 3D 
scanning systems. 

D’Aloia’s current instrument of choice is the Trimble R10 GNSS 
receiver. “The R10 is the lightest, most flexible GPS unit I’ve ever 
used,” he says. “And R10 capabilities such as Trimble xFill™ let my 
teams escape the heat faster.” For example, once a team was a 
few points short of completing a job when radio contact from 
the base station was lost over a high sand dune. The Trimble 
xFill service “kicked in,” allowing them to collect the last points 
without having to reconnect. 

Spreading the Word
About 30 years ago a boy named Joe, who liked playing with 
optical instruments, grew up to be a surveyor. So what are 
tomorrow’s surveyors playing with today? “That’s a question I 
ask myself often,” says D’Aloia, “especially given the shortage of 
new surveying graduates in Australia.”

Perhaps today’s raw surveying talent is crouched in front of a 
PlayStation or Xbox, acquiring 3D spatial awareness that as a 
boy he could never have imagined. “But I wonder,” says D’Aloia, 
“if these gaming youths will as enthusiastically pack bags for a 
trip to the Outback and all its real-life challenges.”

If surveying is the profession they do choose, D’Aloia knows 
they are in for a real adventure.