LiDAR Services - LiDAR Mapping, GIS LiDAR Data Processing

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Published: 08th September 2010
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LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging data) is one of the growing technology in the IT industry, which is finding its application in the fields of remote sensing, Geographical Information System (GIS), Archeology, Meteorology and Atmospheric Environment, 3D mapping, Imaging, Military and law enforcement, Physics and astronomy, Biology and conservation, Vehicles, etc.

LiDAR system works on the optical remote sensing technology to measure properties of scattered light in order to estimate the distance and/or other information of a distant object. LiDAR technology employs the laser pulses to track the distance to a target object or surface. The time lapse between transmission of the pulse waves and reflected signals are measured for this purpose.

LiDAR technology, which is an anthology of components like laser, scanner and optics, photo detector and receiver electronics, and position and navigation systems, can collect dense and accurate information from surfaces or terrains. The LiDAR Data Processing system is used to create exceptionally detailed terrain models like DEM ( Digital Elevation Model), TIN (Triangulated Inverse Network), DTM (Digital Terrain Model) and other surface models.

LiDAR services provided by some companies have a team of highly skilled technical staffs and 3D analysts who toil to produce high level of accuracy in modeling the earth's surface. A vast amount of data-sets, knowledge, hardware and software is required to develop high resolution models.

LiDAR has given a new sophisticated dimension to the surveying and mapping sector. The LiDAR Mapping and surveying is used for forestry, flood risk mapping, oil & gas exploration surveys, power line transmission or pipeline corridor planning, construction surveys, real estate development, coastal zone mapping, wetlands and other restricted access areas, urban modeling, etc. The ALSM (Airborne Laser Swath Mapping), laser altimeter or LIDAR Contour Mapping are some of the major application areas of LiDAR. The airborne LiDAR sensors are used in remote sensing (e.g. forestry) to create point clouds of the earth ground for further processing.

LiDAR Data Processing is employed by GIS for data management, 2D & 3D viewing of topography and earth's surface features, filters processing, process reporting and meta data creation. LiDAR services provided by some companies utilize LiDAR to model the earth's surface in detail. LiDAR Data Processing is used for:

Automatic feature extraction and making Digital Terrain Models (DEMs)

Topographic mapping

Fly-through generation

Wireless communication design

Volumetric calculations

Modeling systems like oil and gas pipelines for maintenance and status evaluation

Forestry management & inventory of canopy attributes for evaluation of crown diameter, canopy closure, and forest biometrics

Cut and Fill calculations for engineering projects like dams, tunnels and roads

The GIS LiDAR data utilizes GIS tools like GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) to process elevation point data and generate the surface models and contours. The LiDAR Data Processing is executed through two major steps - Data Pre Processing and Data Post Processing. The data is acquired by geo-referencing the aerial photography, satellite imagery, or existing maps. The data codes are written using C++, Visual Basic and ESRI map project tool.

The acquired data undergoes further processing for detailed analysis. After filtering the data of its noises, it is stored in the LiDAR file formats like ASCII format or LAS format. ASCII is mainly used in the GIS field. This format contains x, y and z values that give the longitude, latitude and elevation data. The data delivered should confer the accuracy standards like ASPRS Large Scale Mapping Standard and the National Spatial Data Accuracy Standard.

The improvised version of ASCII, the LAS (Log ASCII Standard) format, is still on the verge of real massive application in the GIS field. LAS format is a binary file which stores x, y and z values in the raw format or as header block, variable length records, and point data. Like Radar, LiDAR Data Processing is also making new developments to spread its application level to a wider spectrum.

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