Surveying Boston City Hall


Boston, USA

Scan time

Approx. 20 minutes per scan


Over 1 million sq/ft


Boston City Hall



Boston City Hall was built in 1968, to help boost the city’s economy after years of stagnation. The building and surrounding plaza sought to modernize the city’s urban centre, reinvigorating the run-down neighbourhood of Scollay Square.

Despite the public investment project being welcomed by the people of Boston, the buildings ‘brutalist’ style of architecture created debate amongst the locals, with some suggesting you either love or hate the concrete design. In spite of the concerns from the public, the city
hall has been home to the mayor of Boston and the city council for over 5 decades, and the ‘brutal’ style of architecture has become part of Boston’s rich history.

To encourage more people to use Boston City Hall and to increase accessibility, it was decided in 2017 that the City Hall would be renovated to serve a more modernized purpose. The infrastructure upgrades include better access to utilities, plants and fountains in the plaza area, with the intention of encouraging more people to visit.

The Horizon was a gamechanger…it’s just amazing in terms of the scanning distance, power of the sensor and the ability to easily capture the entire plaza.

Peter Garran and his team, from Aerial Genomics, were appointed by The City of Boston and Sasaki with the task of scanning both the interior and exterior of the City Hall, in anticipation of the renovation project. Spanning 9 floors and housing multiple individual rooms, as well as a busy plaza area, the task of mapping the building threatened to take several months to complete. Also, the City Hall is an active office that contains confidential rooms and Aerial Genomics did not want to disrupt everyday operations too much. Considering their options, the team decided the fastest and most cost-effective way of mapping the building and its surrounding area would be to use mobile LiDAR scanners.

They chose a ZEB Horizon to scan the exterior and inside the Main Hall. The ZEB Revo RT was used to map the buildings vast interior. These scanners were chosen due to their speed, accuracy and mobility. By simply walking around the building, Peter and his team captured the large layout, saving them time.

As they were scanning during the pandemic, it was key for Peter and his team to spend as little time as possible in the building and compared to other scanning methods, GeoSLAM’s scanners were able to deliver on that goal. With the ZEB Horizon, Aerial Genomics captured both the exterior and interior of the Main Hall in just 4 scans, and in less than 2 hours. This scanner was specifically chosen to scan the Main Hall due to its 100m range being able to capture the high walls. To help combat getting in the way of the City Halls’ day-to-day business, the team were given limited amounts of time in the evening to scan a multitude of rooms inside the Hall. Using the ZEB Revo RT, the team could scan the almost 1 million square feet interior, in just 4 nights, consisting of 5 hours each night.

The scans were processed using GeoSLAM Hub and merged to create one point cloud, by Aerial Genomics. The manoeuvrability, ease of use and accuracy that the ZEB scanners provided meant the data collected was ready within a week, to be created as a BIM model to send to the architects. The simple, easy to use solution meant the architects could start thinking about the redevelopment and renovation, without the need to visit the hall during a pandemic. The final BIM model, created in Autodesk Revit, is still referred to today.

Video courtesy of Aerial Genomics
Surveying Boston City Hall

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    GeoSLAM Sample Data

    View and download data in our free point cloud viewer

    Here’s some helpful tips for the best viewing experience

    • If your internet connection allows, move the Point Budget slider to the maximum amount available to view all the points in the cloud.
    • Making the point size smaller using the Point Size slider makes the data easier to view and interpret.
    • In the tools section of the viewer, you can measure the distance and angles of features within the pointcloud.
    • Using the materials section of the viewer, you can use the Select Attributes dropdown to view by intensity, elevation and RGB (if point cloud is coloured).

    Lace Market

    Location: Nottingham, United Kingdom
    ZEB Scanner: ZEB Horizon
    Scan time:
    25 Minutes

    Colourised data was captured using the ZEB Vision camera accessory.

    Would you like to see a specific dataset that’s not on this page? Contact [email protected]

    On-demand Webinar

    Watch a previous webinar in your own time

    Using GeoSLAM technology to improve Mine Productivity

    Hosted: February 2022

    Hosted by GeoSLAM dealer Optron and GeoSLAM’s Global Head of Mining Owen Howells. This webinar focuses on Mining Applications and how SLAM technology can be used to quickly and effectively map the existing mining operations. Showcasing the workflow from capturing the data using the ZEB Horizon 3D laser scanner to generating a georeferenced point cloud in GeoSLAM Connect and ultimately getting to the final deliverable. 

    Includes use cases directly from GeoSLAM customers.

    Mapping a decommissioned power station


    Cape Town, South Africa

    Scan time

    8 Hours Total


    Approx. 117,000 m2


    Power Station



    ZEB Family | Safely surveying a hazardous power station

    All over the globe, countries are looking to nuclear and hydro renewables, not only to provide their electricity needs but to meet climate goals. This is resulting in the shutting down of coal-fossil power plants that no longer have a role to play in a fast-changing world.

    Opened in 1962, the Athlone Power Station was the last coal-fired power station operating in Cape Town, South Africa when it stopped generating power in 2003. The iconic cooling towers, which were known by locals as “The two ladies of Athlone” and had long been a feature of the Cape Town landscape, were demolished several years later.

    The efficient user-friendly GeoSLAM equipment enabled the team to safely and comprehensively survey this hazardous and complex plant.

    Proper planning was essential as demolition can be potentially hazardous for the safety of personnel due to the plant’s age-structure, and onsite teams often having to operate across split levels, in total darkness. The removal of contaminated waste can be equally challenging. Cost is also a major factor and companies responsible for shutting down plant are continuously looking at ways to be cost effective while providing a reliable, fast and efficient service.

    Aurecon, a global engineering, design and advisory company, won the tender from the City of Cape Town to project manage the site for the final stage of decommission. This involved surveying the plant whilst stripping, clearing and removing unused material, redundant equipment and certain historical structures. Their task also included securing all remaining structures, leaving the site in a secure state and registering servitudes for remaining bulk services. Aurecon found Athlone to be a challenging project due to accessibility issues and lack of light. Also, because of the Power Station’s historical importance, salvaging certain unique equipment had to be considered. The team needed a simple and effective solution that could accurately map the site quickly while keeping them safe in a tough environment.

    Aurecon chose to work with mobile LiDAR scanners so that the historians, structural engineers and environmentalists could have the data they needed, without having to enter the potentially dangerous site. For the Athlone project, GeoSLAM’s ZEB Revo RT scanner and ZEB Pano camera were used, as well as the ZEB Horizon and ZEB Cam. The building’s interior and exterior were scanned with the ZEB scanners The two data sets were merged to provide a full 3D point cloud of the entire building.

    Using the Pano, the team generated photos that were incorporated inside the point cloud, so that the offsite survey team could have greater visualisation of the site to feedback commentary. The efficiency of the scanners and speed of capture meant that unlike other scanning methods, the team could repeatedly capture the site. This meant that decisions and assessments could be taken frequently, without the need for lots of people to visit the dangerous site.

    In total, the whole facility was scanned in three days with data sets processed overnight, a total of eight hours. The combined datasets were available within a week, which enabled Aurecon’s modellers to commence work on the classification of components in the power station.

    The final 3D point cloud representation of the interior of the power station enabled the engineering team to assess and quantify the amount of salvage and scrapped material to be removed from the site, and to plan the logistics of the removal in context with the physical shape and size of the existing building.

    The accurate 3D model equipped the stakeholders with information that allowed them to safely and precisely analyse for activities such as material quantification, condition assessment and the preparation of decommissioning method statements.

    If you’d like to learn more about how GeoSLAM solutions can help you, submit the form below.

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      Your information will be used by GeoSLAM and our authorised partner network.

      Where in the World is LiDAR Being Used? Top 6 Uses from 2021

      With increasing awareness of LiDAR technology, its applications are becoming more diverse. From helping to prevent natural disasters to mapping historic caves and restoring architectural wonders, our ZEB laser scanners have been involved in a range of interesting projects over the past 12 months.

      Referencing using control points

      Control points are points within a given area that have known coordinates. They are a key tool in the geospatial industry and can be utilised in a variety of ways, including georeferencing point clouds and aligning aerial images to terrestrial data. By using control points, surveyors are able to accurately map larger areas and position overlapping surveys of an area together. They can also be used in non-geospatial industries, such as construction and mining, to show clear temporal comparisons between multiple surveys of the same area. This method of georeferencing is also referred to as adjust to control.

      Previously, checkerboards and spherical targets have been used as control markers – these items are captured in surveys and can be identified for georeferencing or aligning. The main drawback with these methods is that they rely heavily on human interpretation when processing, meaning that the processed datasets may be susceptible to an increased amount of error.

      When capturing handheld surveys, GeoSLAM systems are able to collect reference points. These can then be matched with known control points to reference scans and increase the level of accuracy.

      What makes GeoSLAM referencing different?

      • More accurate: GeoSLAM scanners are used with known control points and survey grade pins, rather than more traditional moveable targets. This reduces the margin of error within point clouds.
      • Save time: using known survey control points means there is no need to manually position individual targets before every scan. Data capture can then be repeated regularly, faster, easier and with no concerns that reference points are captured in different places each time.
      • Safer: in dangerous or inaccessible areas, targets are not required to be physically positioned on pre-defined control points prior to each scan. This reduces the time exposed to hazards and unsafe areas.


      Easily reference point clouds and produce reports highlighting accuracy values.



      Regularly monitor site operations (e.g. stockpiles) and hazards.

      Security & Defence


      Compare changes over time and map progress onto predetermined CAD/BIM models.


      All GeoSLAM ZEB systems are able to capture reference points using the reference plate accessory. These reference points can simply be measured by remaining stationary for periods during a scan and will be recognised during the processing stage. Points can be captured from a horizontal or vertical position, depending on which ZEB system is used, making it easier than ever to georeference datasets.


      Using the Stop & Go Georeferencing workflow in GeoSLAM Connect, datasets can be automatically referenced through a rigid or non-rigid transformation.

      Scans are rotated and adjusted and reference points are matched to the known control points without changing the scale factor. A single transform is applied to every data point in the point cloud.

      The scale factor of datasets is altered to suit the control points – every data point is moved to a new position; this means the relative positions of these points also changes. This method is better suited for poor SLAM environments.

      A clean georeferenced point cloud is produced using both methods. An accuracy report of the transformation is also generated and includes an RMS error value.

      Once georeferenced using control points, point clouds can be optimised further using leading third party software:

      • Comparisons with existing CAD/BIM models
      • Point cloud to point cloud registration showing changes over time within a given area
      • CAD/BIM model creation

      For more information about our third party partnerships, head to our integrations page.

      Mapping hazardous mines under intense time constraints

      Beck Engineering, an Australian mining engineering consultancy specialising in mining and rock mechanics analysis, needs to rapidly map mines under intense time constraints using versatile technology which is adaptable to any environment. GeoSLAM’s handheld mobile mapping solution was chosen as it is compact, portable and delivers a high level of accuracy. With GeoSLAM’s “go-anywhere” 3D technology in hand, Beck Engineering has been able to supply invaluable data regarding the direct effects of mining to better understand the implications of a deforming rock mass. Beck Engineering is now able to accurately measure the shape of an excavation or tunnel over time. As a result, tunnels are safer, better designed and more cost efficient.

      We have continued to use GeoSLAM products as they have proven to be affordable, lightweight and sufficiently robust devices for their application underground. GeoSLAM continues to produce a high-quality device that is at the forefront of practical mobile laser scanning devices.
      – Evan Jones, Senior Rock Mechanics Engineer at Beck

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        Scanning in America’s oldest show cave



        Scan time

        12 minutes


        500 meters


        Grand Caverns



        Discovered in 1804 by Bernard Weyer in the heart of Virginia, Grand Caverns (formerly Weyer’s Cave) is the oldest show cave in the USA. During the US civil war, the cave was used by both Confederate and Union soldiers as part of the Valley campaign, during which time over 230 soldiers signed their names on to the cave walls. More recently, the cave has become a huge tourist attraction, due to its beauty, location and being surrounded by scenic trails for hiking, running, and biking, but it has also captured the attention of the scientific community because of recent discoveries of new passages and the rock formation changes over time.

        The town of Grottoes (where the show cave is located) partnered with Angel A. Garcia Jr. and his students from James Madison University to create a 3D map of the cave. The 3D point cloud is being used to measure Speleothems, monitor the human impact on the cave, create 3D printed models and to celebrate the show cave’s extensive history, shining a light on its geoheritage. In addition, it is a fantastic opportunity for the undergraduate students of JMU to get hands on experience with the handheld LiDAR scanner and the data it outputs.

        Angel A. Garcia Jr. chose GeoSLAM’s ZEB Horizon scanner to take on the task of mapping both the parts of the cave open to the public and the recently discovered, vast passages. He and his students capitalise on the speed of capture and accuracy of the scanner to review and analyse data in a quick and efficient manner.

        With the LiDAR we’ll be able to get into corners and see what hasn’t been looked at for a long time.

        Having originally purchased the ZEB Horizon back in February 2021 to collaborate and share data with partners scanning caves using ZEB devices in Puerto Rico, Professor Garcia began to see the potential and opportunities the scanner offered. Fast, accurate and handheld data capture opens a way to map an area without the need to GPS or complicated setups. In addition, the scanners ease of use means that undergraduate students can be involved in the project with limited to no training.

        Since beginning to use the ZEB Horizon, interest in Professor Garcia’s work with the SLAM scanner has escalated, and he has subsequently been invited to other universities to run workshops. In April 2021, he was approached by Grand Caverns to map the historic show cave.

        The public area of the cave is approximately 500 meters in length, 30 meters high and has stairways in places, so it is quite a large area to capture. Professor Garcia and his students were able to capture the entire public area in approximately 12-15 minutes, by simply walking and scanning. He pointed out that a terrestrial laser scanner would be able to capture the public part of the cave, but it would take days, not minutes, and due to the uneven surfaces of the non-public area of the cave, it would be impossible to get a tripod-based system down there. Alternatively, you could measure a cave using a distometer, but this could take months, if not years to complete.

        The ZEB Horizon was able to give them a quick accurate scan in 12 minutes, so the students could get to work reviewing the data for their various projects.

        It’s going be able to detect the stalagmites, the stalactites and it’s even going to be able to detect the cave shield because it’s that precise.

        The data is being processed using GeoSLAM Hub, and Draw is being utilised by the team to accurately measure the speleothems over time. The students can see the orientation, thickness and gather measurements using the LiDAR information alone. They are also hoping to use Draw to understand accurate dimensions of the cave. Furthermore, the 3D point cloud is being used as a base to 3D print the cave within a rectangular block, for further research purposes.

        The team continued to scan the cave over the summer, and Professor Garcia is working with the caving/spelunking community of experts to begin capturing the more problematic and recently discovered new passages of the cave. These areas have not designed for the public at the moment, so there are uneven surfaces and narrow corridors, but due to the ZEB Horizons mobility, capturing previously unseen parts of cave will be quick and safe.

        Professor Garcia concludes by saying that the 3D model will provide an opportunity for those who can’t physically enter the caverns, to learn what they are all about.

        If you’d like to learn more about how GeoSLAM solutions can help you, submit the form below.

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