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March 13, 2018

The US Geological Survey National Geospatial Program has released a new version of the USGS Lidar Base Specification that defines deliverables for nationally consistent lidar data acquisitions.

The USGS Lidar Base Specification provides a common base specification for all lidar data acquired for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) component of The National Map. The primary goal of 3DEP is to systematically collect nationwide 3D elevation data in an 8-year period.

Lidar Base Specification version 1.3 cover
USGS Lidar Base Specification version 1.3 (Public domain.)

“3DEP is a national program that acquires data in cooperation with many partners, so we need to ensure that the lidar data is nationally consistent and interoperable between various collections” said Jason Stoker, Chief Scientist for the USGS 3DEP. “The USGS Lidar Base Specification provides the technical details on collection, processing, documentation, and delivery of lidar data, to make the data more useful for a broad range of applications. This latest version incorporates many lessons learned and input from Federal, State, and industry collaborators.”

Previous versions of the Lidar Base Specification were released in 2010, 2012, and 2014. The USGS–NGP Lidar Base Specification Version 1.0 was quickly embraced as the foundation for numerous state, county, and foreign country lidar specifications. Lidar continues to be a fast-evolving technology, and the USGS-NGP Lidar Base Specification Version 1.3 addresses some of the changes in the industry since the Lidar Base Specification Version 1.2 was written.

Some notable changes include dropping the requirement for raw, unclassified swath data, clarifications on how to represent coordinate reference information, changes to a few classification codes, the inclusion of a new guideline for breakline collections, and a new GIS data dictionary to provide a consistent data structure for hydrologic breaklines.

Lidar data have improved in accuracy and spatial resolution, geospatial accuracy standards have been revised by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), industry standard file formats have been expanded, additional applications for lidar have become accepted, and the need for interoperable data across collections has been realized. This revision to the Lidar Base Specification, known as Version 1.3, addresses those changes and provides continued guidance towards a nationally consistent lidar dataset.

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