Unlocking success in utility detection and mapping

Utility detection and mapping offer surveying companies new opportunities to diversify and secure business growth in today’s ever-advancing geospatial landscape. This article charts a three-staged pathway into utility detection and mapping using illustrative examples from companies worldwide.

The field of surveying is always advancing, with the advent of new techniques and technologies emerging to produce better, faster and more accurate results. Among these, ground penetrating radar (GPR) brings a revolution by providing detailed information about underground infrastructures, ensuring safer excavation and preventing accidental damage. As such, utility detection and mapping have emerged as a dynamic area of opportunity for surveyors looking to broaden their service portfolios, boost their competitiveness, and tap into new revenue streams. They can move into utility detection and mapping by following the three-staged pathway outlined below. 

Stage 1: Entry-level solution for utility detection and mapping

The Leica DSX is an ideal entry point into utility detection with its user-friendly interface, automatic data analysis, and fast production of 3D utility maps. DSX integrates with the GNSS antenna to accurately position underground utilities. The immediate 2D/3D maps and high-resolution detection results streamline on-site tasks, aid in professional reporting, and help designate secure zones to avoid damage.

Real-time utility detection for Indonesian infrastructure

As a testament to the efficiency of the Leica DSX, Waskita Karya, a leading Indonesian state company, successfully integrated it into its workflow during the construction of the Becakayu Elevated Highway. This tool enabled real-time, accurate detection of buried utilities like gas pipes and electric cables, thus facilitating safer construction and pillar placement. Additionally, the solution was easy to operate, requiring minimal staff training. As a result, the Leica DSX enabled safer construction practices and improved project efficiency, resulting in substantial time and cost savings.

JWC’s path to safer excavations

J. Wilson Contractors Ltd (JWC) diversified its service offerings using the Leica DSX. With the DSX, JWC can detect previously untraceable materials and provide clients with exact locations and depths. This technology allows JWC to offer detailed surveys to its clients and conduct safer excavations, thereby enhancing its service offerings. DSX implementation has contributed to increased interest and orders for the company.

Stage 2: Growing with multichannel GPR for underground 3D mapping

As surveyors delve deeper into utility detection and mapping, multichannel GPR comes into play. Stream DP by IDS GeoRadar, a multichannel GPR solution for underground surveys, utilizes Equalized Scrambled Technology (EsT) to detect deep underground features and create exclusion zones for individual utilities. Its integration of 3D maps into machine control systems allows for precise operations and enhanced safety. Given its high productivity, efficiency and ease of use, it empowers surveyors with a competitive edge in the rapidly growing utility detection market.

Underground mapping across DACH region

Specializing in underground utility detection, SUBTERRA GMBH successfully employed Stream DP for several projects across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This allowed for precise mapping of underground lines, aiding the installation of fibre optic networks and transformers, and the drilling of cores in a Berlin petrol station. This technology resulted in cost savings, worker safety and efficient, non-invasive underground mapping across various terrains.


Leica DSX in action on the Becakayu Elevated Highway project, providing real-time utility detection to improve safety and increase construction efficiency.


Leica DSX in use providing JWC with detailed, accurate 3D utility mapping to ensure safe and efficient excavations.



Stream UP, operated by HSC, facilitates fast and efficient mapping of underground utilities amidst dense urban conditions.

Severn Partnerships quickly maximized its ROI with Stream UP and Leica Pegasus:Two Ultimate.


Railway underground surveys made simple

In a challenging rail survey project, Boviar, an Italian engineering company, used Stream DP to effectively navigate rugged terrain, achieving up to 60% greater depth penetration than its competitors. The system’s integration with IQMaps enabled the creation of detailed, accurate 3D maps, underscoring the efficacy of GPR in rail infrastructure management. Stream DP’s lightweight design, quick setup and low energy consumption ensured optimal performance in challenging conditions.

Stage 3: Scale up with above and below-ground utility mapping solution

The transition to Stage 3 represents the expansion to above and below-ground utility mapping. IDS GeoRadar’s Stream UP is a handy solution designed for large-scale utility mapping. This vehicle-mounted solution features a lightweight, easy-to-assemble design, making it convenient for transportation. It integrates a multi-frequency, multi-channel, double-polarized sensor that enables seamless coverage of extensive regions. Stream UP combines with Leica Pegasus TRK mobile mapping systems for synchronized GPR, Lidar and camera intelligence data acquisition, facilitating large-scale infrastructure measurement and creating digital twins for above and below-ground geospatial assets. 

SUBTERRA GMBH used IQMaps software to conduct non-invasive, detailed underground utility mapping at a Berlin petrol station.

New standards in safety and efficiency in Singapore’s pipeline projects

HSC Pipeline Engineering Pte Ltd adopted the lightweight Stream UP system for its pipeline projects. This system provides an accurate 3D view of subsurface utilities without disrupting city traffic. Unlike traditional trench surveys, which only cover 3.3% of the survey area, Stream UP has enabled HSC to cover 100% of the intended area without excavation. This implementation of Stream UP has resulted in significant cost savings, increased productivity and enhanced safety standards in Singapore’s utility mapping and detection services. 

Maximizing ROI through GPR and mobile mapping

Through the adoption of tools like Stream UP and Leica Pegasus:Two Ultimate, Severn Partnerships – a long-established geospatial company – elevated its market standing, service precision and efficiency. The company exponentially enhanced its data collection, processing and delivery capabilities, attracting new clients and enabling a dynamic service offering with both simple 2D and sophisticated 3D deliverables. Within seven to eight months, Severn Partnerships secured contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and covered the initial costs, after which it could start maximizing the return on investment (ROI). This technological transition diversified the company’s clientele and expanded project opportunities beyond traditional surveying to include civil engineering, construction work and novel projects, such as scanning racetracks for Formula E.

The evolutionary journey of utility detection and mapping

Embracing change and innovation in surveying – through entry-level solutions like Leica DSX, multi-channel solutions like Stream DP, and advanced systems like Stream UP coupled with Pegasus TRK – paves the way for safer, faster and more precise utility detection and mapping. Real-world examples from Waskita Karya, JWC, SUBTERRA GMBH and Severn Partnerships are a testament to GPR’s transformative potential. As such, utility detection and mapping emerge as a promising domain for surveyors, unfolding opportunities for service diversification, competitiveness and new revenue streams.

Download the Growth Guide and visit the Leica Geosystems website to harness these game-changing technologies and redefine industry benchmarks for precision, efficiency and safety.