GNU Surveyor™

Published on: March 11, 2015

Consolidation, reconfiguring and repositioning facilities posed a unique challenge when renovations to existing facilities are required. A huge benefit to GNU’s client’s in all market segments was realized when we developed the GNU Surveyor Application.

Changes to facilities always means creating new wayfinding, orientation and environmental branding programs. The first step in developing a new program is inventorying the existing facilities to understand what stays, what goes and what must be altered. Historically this meant photographing each location, taking measurements, noting requirements for placement, lighting and legibility, and identifying any restrictions needing mitigation. It took a keen eye, photos, measurements, drawings and notes on each location, along with a great deal of patience.

When we were commissioned to develop a new wayfinding and signage program for Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals (TJUH) in Philadelphia we realized the programming would involve over 10,000 sign locations located in 8 buildings (2 million square feet).

GNU has considerable experience with these types of surveys.  We would dispatch a team armed with cameras, tape measures, plan drawings, laptops and note paper. They would return with piles of documentation, photos keyed to drawings, notes scribbled on drawings and dictated observations.  But managing in the field was tedious and correlating and collating the results was like assembling a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

We decided there must be a better way.  The response to this challenge resulted in GNU Surveyor™, a proprietary iPhone application that allows all information to be aggregated in the field. All photos, measurements, location plans and specifications are instantly linked. Compared to the ‘old way,’ GNU Surveyor™, reduced time in the field by 50% and a comparable amount for processing the information. Accuracy was commensurately improved as was the ease of managing 19,476 photos and 75 gigabytes of data.

Once back in the office, we review the photos and locations to identify missing signs or those that need removal. Modifying data in a multi-table database (rather than dots in Illustrator™ and records in Filemaker™), means we can automatically generate all documentation. Any edits are instantly updated. Delete a location and the associated signs are removed. We knew GNU Surveyor™, would save time, but the accuracy of the information is an equal benefit.

GNU Surveyor™ proved its value at TJUH. Since then we employ the process on every project that requires an inventory of existing conditions. All projects, small and large profit from the program. As we have further refined the program, the savings in time have increased.