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What is 3DEP?

3DEP BY THE NUMBERS: Tracking progress towards the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) goal to complete the first-ever baseline of consistent high-resolution elevation data - both bare earth and 3D point clouds.

The 3D Elevation Program is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Geospatial Program to respond to growing needs for high-quality topographic data and for a wide range of other three-dimensional (3D) representations of the Nation's natural and constructed features. 3DEP informs critical decisions that are made across our Nation every day that depend on elevation data, ranging from immediate safety of life, property, and environment to long term planning for infrastructure projects.

3DEP is based on the results of the National Enhanced Elevation Assessment (NEEA) that was funded by National Digital Elevation Program (NDEP) agencies and completed in 2011. The study, led by the USGS, identified more than 600 requirements for enhanced (3D) elevation data to address mission-critical information requirements of 34 Federal agencies, all 50 States, and a sample of private sector companies and Tribal and local governments. 

3DEP Lidar and IfSAR technology used to create DEM, DSM, Lidar point cloud images
USGS Four Images created with 3DEP-quality lidar and IfSAR technology. Left to right, clockwise: Digital Elevation Model of the Red River near Fargo, ND; IfSAR Digital Surface Model; Lidar point cloud image of Dulles Airport, VA; Lidar point cloud image of the transportation network in Denver, CO.

The first full year of 3DEP production began in 2016 and at the end of fiscal year 2021, 84% of the Nation has available or in progress elevation data that meet 3DEP specifications for high accuracy and resolution. We must also continue to look forward to the challenges of completing nationwide coverage and meeting growing needs for higher quality data, repeat coverage, and new products and services.

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