3D Elevation for the Nation
The U.S. Geological Survey has announced the first round of recipients of the 2018 partnership awards for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). This program presents an annual opportunity for collaboration between the USGS and other federal, state, local, and non-profit agencies to leverage the expertise and capacity of private sector mapping firms that acquire high-quality, three-dimensional mapping data of the United States.
“We are very pleased to see an increasingly diverse set of stakeholders seeking opportunities to partner with 3DEP," said Kevin Gallagher, USGS Associate Director for Core Science Systems. “The proposals selected for award included over 95 different Federal, State, Tribal, Regional and Local governments, non-profits and private sector partners who are leveraging funds for lidar acquisition."
Thus far in 2018, the USGS has recommended 23 proposals in 18 states for award. These projects are expected to result in the addition of nearly 175,000 square miles of public domain lidar point cloud data and derived elevation products into the 3DEP data holdings.
These 2018 awards are the result of a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the 3D Elevation Program, issued on August 16, 2017. (Fed Biz Opps G17PS00746 and Grants.gov G17AS00116). The BAA is a publicly accessible process to develop partnerships for the collection of lidar data for 3DEP.
3DEP is a cooperative activity with a primary goal to collect nationwide Quality Level 2 lidar data, with Quality Level 5 IfSAR data in Alaska, over an 8-year period. 3DEP is backed by a comprehensive study which conservatively estimates that elevation data provides new benefits of $690 million/year with the potential to generate $13 billion/year in new benefits through applications that span the economy.
Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, is collected from aircraft by using sensors that detect the reflections of a pulsed laser beam. The reflections are recorded as millions of individual points, collectively called a “point cloud,” that represent the three-dimensional (3D) positions of objects on the surface of the Earth. Similarly, IfSAR, short for interferometric synthetic aperture radar, is used to collect data over Alaska due to the frequent cloud cover, rugged terrain and remote locations.
Current and accurate 3D elevation data are needed to support important applications, including flood-risk management, precision agriculture, infrastructure projects, natural resources management, and helping communities cope with natural hazards such as floods and landslides.
Federal funds to support this opportunity were provided by the USGS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The USGS is acting in a management role to facilitate planning and acquisition for the broader community through the use of government contracts and partnership agreements.
More information about 3DEP, including updates on current and future 3DEP partnership opportunities, is available online.