UTS Library

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): LIDAR

In this guide:

LIDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth. These light pulses—combined with additional data recorded by airborne instruments — generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

Lidar map

A LIDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver. Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring LIDAR data. Two types of LIDAR are topographic and bathymetric. Topographic LIDAR typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land, while bathymetric lidar uses water-penetrating green light to measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.

There are many LIDAR datasources available, including

Foundation Spatial Data

This service has LIDAR data available for major urban centres in Australia, that can be saved and exported. 

Open Topography

Open Topography is one of the biggest open data portals for free LiDAR data.

Earth Explorer

Is provided by the US Geological Survey, but has worldwide data available. First, enter your search criteria (kml, coordinates, etc.). Next, select the checkbox for LiDAR in the data sets tab. Finally, click the results tab to see what LiDAR datasets are available.

Lidar Online

Is a user supported LIDAR portal where data is submitted to a worldwide map for sharing. A free registration is required for use. 

These data sources can be used by ArcScene, which is also available from the UTS Architecture and Built Environment labs. LIDAR files can also be transferred into Autodesk Tools, allowing you to convert data into 3 dimensional models.

Text largely taken from the National Ocean Service website