We’ve often said “we don’t mind hard work, it’s unnecessary work that bothers us“.  Such is the case in obtaining lidar data for surface generation.  From our previous experience the process involved:

  1. Use a browser to go to a certain government website.
  2. Zoom and pan around till we found the area of interest.
  3. Click to select our area and place our order.
  4. Wait for an email to arrive telling us our data is ready.
  5. Download to find it’s a massive file.

This massive file means wasted time, bandwidth and we get at least 20x more than we needed.  Then begins the attempt to work with the file which means jumping through more hoops trying to convert to something you can use, through QGIS, through Recap, still can’t choose classifications, rant and waste more time.

Since we constantly seek ideal solutions, our question was “why can’t a person simply step into the CAD drawing, select the area of interest and get a surface”.  After all, professionals have more important things to do than jump through hoops like a well trained circus animal.

So the next thing we did was visit the Kentucky Geological Network, the keeper of lidar for our state.  There we were pleasantly surprised to find statewide data with an intelligent grid based naming scheme and instant access to the tiles.  They broke the state up into a large number of 5000×5000 foot tiles which mean small digestible tiles for us to download.  It’s a scale able solution that could be applied to any state or region.  Congratulations to the GIS team at KGN, this was well done!

So armed with the simplicity of our states data and grid naming, it was a short revision to implement this in our existing Mass Points Processor, which was already a tool ready to have bucket fulls of data thrown into it.  The results worked out better than we hoped and achieved the ultimate simplicity (open drawing, select area, wait a few seconds, generate surface).

Here is a short video example of this in action.

You must have Flash to view this demonstration video.


If you have a web based lidar source that has an intelligent index and direct access, email us so we can attempt to add your state/agency to our software.  To follow the additional providers as we add them, check the forum thread.

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