Why Now Is a Bad Time to Perform Site Surveys

Given important and necessary stay-at-home policies, research labs are uncharacteristically quiet, producing a lower noise floor than expected when researchers return to the lab. It is even being measured that the Earth’s overall seismic activity is lower on average, as seen in Nature Research.

This unparalleled moment of inactivity is a good example why researchers should steer clear of site surveys for the time being and instead prepare for a site survey when it is clear to return.

When To Perform A Site Survey (and why now is not a good time)

Site surveys, when performed successfully, are illustrative of an instrument’s operating environment. An important facet of capturing the right data for a researcher’s instrument is to know when to perform a survey, and when not to.

When Researchers Should Not Schedule a Site Survey

The pandemic affecting the lives of many around the world is an extreme, but emblematic example of when not to perform a site survey. In addition to the important reasons why people should not gather right now to perform a survey, there are lessons to be drawn from this moment to identify when not to perform a survey. The reduction of foot traffic, minimal roadway traffic, limited public transit, and other efforts related to minimizing social gathering greatly impacts environmental noise within a lab.

Artificially low noise levels like this can be misleading to researchers planning for incoming instrumentation as noise introduced during normal operating conditions will likely exceed the noise captured in the survey. An alternative example of this would be surveys performed over the weekend, or during hours of the day with limited people onsite (beyond 9AM – 5PM), where less people are in the office contributing noise. These uncharacteristic scenarios can delay research and contribute added cost when needing to retrofit a solution to address the unmeasured noise.

When Researchers Should Schedule a Site Survey

Researchers interested in site surveys should schedule them during normal operating conditions, with nearby colleagues working at their stations, during typical traffic periods during the day, and when other machinery in the room are operation.
Additionally, performing data logging during a site survey often identifies periodic noise that may help researchers optimize the usage time of their instrument by avoiding periods of time with habitually greater noise levels or identifying sources of noise to mitigate or decouple from the environment.

What Researchers Can Do Now

The key recommendation for researchers wanting a site survey is to prepare the necessary information to guarantee the data collected is essential and relevant to the room measured. Having this information prior to a site survey can also save time and money in identifying potential mitigation solutions, when research is ready to resume.

Herzan’s Guide to Site Surveys

This guide will show what conditions users should consider when scheduling a site survey, the type of information helpful to have prior to a site survey, and why site surveys are an important tool in understanding their environment and planning for an incoming (or existing) microscope.

Click Here to Download Herzan’s Guide to Site Surveys