3D Elevation Program (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 - collected in a timeframe of less than a decade

3DEP is based on the results of the National Enhanced Elevation Assessment (NEEA) that documented more than 600 business uses across 34 Federal agencies, all 50 States, selected local government and Tribal offices, and private and nonprofit organizations. Vetted across the community, The 3D Elevation Program Initiative - A Call for Action (2014) documented the process to analyze the NEEA requirements and benefits, the comparison of program scenarios (varying quality level and replacement cycle across the nation by cells measuring one degree latitude by one degree longitude), and the recommendation to acquire Quality Level 2 data nationwide (Quality Level 5 in Alaska).  If fully funded and implemented within eight years, 3DEP has the potential to conservatively provide more than $690 million annually in new benefits to government entities, the private sector, and citizens. This would result in a nearly 5:1 return on investment, informing 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. The first full year of 3DEP production began in 2016, resulting in the target completion date for acquisition of 2023. 

 

3DEP is managed by the USGS on behalf of the community of Federal, state, local and other partners.  Progress towards the completion goal has accelerated each year, and is due in large part to partner investments:  from FY15 - FY19, USGS funded 30% of 3DEP costs for data acquisition and data processing and management, while partners funded 66% for data acquisition, with the remaining 4% of funding coming from disaster supplemental appropriations.  The information below summarizes community-wide 3DEP expenditures from FY15 – FY19, projected funding for FY20 and the future based on the FY20 President’s Budget, and identifies the gap in funding for 3DEP as a national program and community investment.  The gap in funding to complete coverage by 2023 could be met through additional partner funding. 

The information below was calculated with the FY20 Enacted Budget, and the FY20 President’s Budget to estimate funding levels for FY21 and beyond.

 

Bar graph showing 3D Elevation Program data acquisition federal and non-federal investments for fiscal years 2015 - 2019.

Bar graph showing 3D Elevation Program data acquisition federal and non-federal investments for fiscal years 2015 - 2019.

(Credit: Allyson Jason, USGS. Public domain.)

The bar chart to the left shows growing community-wide investment in data acquisition to support the goal of nationwide coverage of 3DEP-quality data.

Total 3DEP investments in Lidar and IfSAR data acquisition by fiscal year (FY), from FY 2015 to FY 2019 in the United States and U.S. territories. Funding sources include Federal, state, and local agencies, Tribes, and other partner organizations. (FY15 funding levels: $35.5 million in Federal funds, $10.8 million in non-Federal funds. FY16: $43.3 million in Federal funds, $16 million in non-Federal funds. FY17: $73 million in Federal funds, $13.1 million in non-Federal funds. FY18: $107.6 million in Federal funds, $13.4 million in non-Federal funds. FY19: $103.3 million in Federal funds, $33.5 million in non-Federal funds)

Click the graph for a larger version.

3D Elevation Program Fiscal Year 2015 - 2019 Expenditures

Bar graph showing 3D Elevation program fiscal year 2015-2019 expenditures.

(Credit: Allyson Jason, USGS. Public domain.)

Community-wide 3DEP Expenditures Include:

  • Partner (Federal and non-Federal partners not including USGS) data acquisition investments shown in blue
  • USGS National Geospatial Program (NGP) data acquisition investments shown in dark green; investments from other USGS programs that are not from the NGP 3DEP budget are included as partner funding, shown in blue
  • Program management and data processing and delivery costs shown in light green, and
  • Supplemental appropriation funds for hurricane and wildfire disasters shown in purple 

The USGS funding for 3DEP is part of the Core Science Systems - National Geospatial Program line item funded by the FY20 President’s Budget at $67.9M.  The FY21 President’s Budget has not yet been released. The National Geospatial Program line item includes 3DEP, the National Hydrography Datasets, US Topo, The National Map viewer and other components. 

Total Estimated Community-wide Cost and Funding Gap to Complete Nationwide 3DEP Data Acquisition by 2023

The gap in funding to complete coverage by 2023 could be met through additional partner funding.  

To estimate the total program cost, FY15-19 expenditures (summarized from the bar chart above) are added to estimated costs for completing nationwide 3DEP.  Cost estimates for completing coverage include the following considerations:

  • Cost estimates vary geographically based on percent canopy cover and slope, with higher costs in areas with steep terrain and/or dense vegetation
  • Higher costs are assumed for data acquisition on U.S. territories and islands.
  • More partners are now requiring QL1 lidar data, which is increasing the costs of collection.
Total Estimated Program Cost and Funding Gap to Complete Nationwide 3D Elevation Data Coverage

Bar graph showing total estimated program cost and funding gap to complete nationwide 3D Elevation Program data acquisition by 2023.

(Credit: Allyson Jason, USGS. Public domain.)

To estimate the community-wide funding gap for completing nationwide 3DEP data coverage by 2023, three different partnership scenarios and an average of the three scenarios were considered and are reflected in the bar graph. Each scenario is based on a different assumption of the ratio of USGS dollars to dollars from all other funding partners.  For Federal lands, the land managing agencies are the most likely potential partners to co-fund data acquisition with the USGS, so a partnering ratio of 1:1 is used for Federal lands in every scenario (for every $1 of USGS funding, $1 is invested by the land managing agency partners).  Explanation of each scenario shown in the bar graph:

  • Funding scenario A:  The top row of the chart assumes that for every $1 of USGS funding, $4 are invested by partners except on Federal lands where we assume a $1:$1 partnership ratio.  Note that Partner funding has been harder to raise for the western U.S. compared to the rest of the Nation due to smaller tax bases and the presence of large areas of Federal lands.  While partnering ratios of 1:4 or more are common in other areas of the US, the ratio will likely be lower in the western US. This is the least probable scenario.
  • Funding scenario B:  The second row of the chart assumes that for every $1 of USGS funding, $2 are invested by partners, except on Federal lands where we assume a $1:$1 partnership ratio.
  • Funding scenario C:  The third row of the chart assumes that for every $1 of USGS funding, $1 is invested by partners on both Federal and non-Federal lands.
  • Average of A, B and C:  The last row of the chart is an average of the three scenarios. 

The funding gap is the amount of funding it would take, in addition to the estimated community-wide funding for each scenario, to complete national coverage of 3DEP-quality data by 2023. For example, in the average of all 3 models (shown on the last row), $196M is needed to complete data acquisition by 2023 in addition to the $304M estimated community-wide funding. Based on the FY20 President’s Budget, the gap in funding to complete coverage by 2023 could be met through additional partner funding.  USGS funding for FY21 and on is assumed to be the FY20 President’s budget for USGS 3DEP of 36.2M. 

The total estimated cost for all scenarios is approximately $1.039B.  The 3D Elevation Program Initiative— A Call for Action published in 2014 estimated total program costs at $146M annually for 8 years, for a total of $1.168B.  Today’s reduced estimated cost of $1.039B is largely due to decreasing cost of acquisition since 2014.

These estimates are based on many assumptions and are not intended to allocate cost shares to any particular organization or to individual government sectors. The actual funding model and sources of funds are expected to change based on actual investments in data acquisition across all partners.  This update of 3DEP by the numbers includes the final accounting of the FY19 expenditures.

 

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