Integrating LIDAR Data into ArcGIS Just Got Easier

Message from the Editor: Integrating LIDAR Data into ArcGIS Just Got Easier

Welcome to GISWeekly! Torin Haskell, director of Sales and Marketing for QCoherent Software, spoke with GISWeekly about the recent announcement of LP360, the first LIDAR extension for the ESRI environment on the desktop. Read about how this product simplifies the integration of LIDAR data into ArcGIS in this week’s Industry News.

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Industry News

Integrating LIDAR Data into ArcGIS Just Got Easier
by Susan Smith

Torin Haskell, director of Sales and Marketing for QCoherent Software, spoke with GISWeekly about the recent announcement of LP360, the first LIDAR extension for the ESRI environment on the desktop. Haskell said that in the past, LIDAR vendors would provide ESRI users with multiple deliverables, “typically ASCII and grid files with different classifications and maybe unclassified data sets, delivered in tiles. People were working with possibly six different files per tile of data. With LP360, the user no longer has to ask for those deliverables. They can just ask for the LAS files and thereby integrate all those products on the fly in ArcGIS.”

LAS files are the LIDAR standard which has been adopted by the ASPRS, and is published by that organization.

A relatively new company, QCoherent was born at the beginning of 2006, for the purpose of developing LP360. The code has been in development for a year and a half. “We felt there was a missing component with the huge ESRI marketshare, and so we have developed our first product for that platform,” Haskell explained. “We ultimately hope to go to other platforms as well". Below are some of the highlights of LP360’s impressive list of benefits and features:

- Virtually limitless data architecture – LP360 uses a pyramiding concept for accessing the LIDAR data from the binary LAS files. It is not memory dependent when it works with point data. “That’s been the major problem with people trying to use large point data sets in that it crashes their system and renders it basically inoperable due to the memory requirements for working with all these points,” said Haskell. “Our architecture removes that problem, and that’s why we can bring in these huge datasets and work with them in the ArcGIS environment.”

LP360 is on the desktop. “If you had to take these point data sets and bring them into ArcGIS or any other CAD or GIS package, it brings it to its knees. LP360 changes that paradigm so that you no longer have this performance issue associated with large point data sets.”

The costs accrued by city and county governments who pay for LIDAR data that they can’t use fully has been astronomical, Haskell said. People haven’t been able to work with the full point cloud. People can now program their own code to leverage against other data sets, to bring the data into a remote sensing scenario and use other data sets to classify or take advantage of the LIDAR data they’ve paid for.

- Integrated extension for ArcMap and ArcCatalog: Previously LAS was not an accepted data layer in ArcCatalog, and you wouldn’t see it there. Now, as you go through ArcCatalog, you have the functionality to get the thumbnail and information on the file.

LP360 creates an LIDAR data layer in ArcMAP. “We created a custom LIDAR layer, the LAS layers, but we also added a tab to the table of contents. When you add multiple LAS files, because they’re often broken up into many tiny tiles, you can just select on and off the LIDAR, but you’re really toggling 300-400 tiles,” Haskell explained.

- GIS Fusion will work in the profile viewer as well as the 3D viewer but really the best functionality is in the 3D viewer. This allows you to take that TIN or the point cloud that you’re looking at in 3D and merge your GIS project to it. You can send up your GIS project with different transparencies and multiple layers point files, objects, icons, etc. You can set up in your project and can fuse that to the point cloud or the TIN in the 3D window or to the profile. This enables you to see certain things such as, if you have a boundary of a watershed, with Fusion you can see exactly where that boundary overlays on the point cloud.

Import and export functionality – “There is a value to having grid files or ASCII files for certain applications, so we’ve incorporated that into the product, the idea being that people no longer have to pay the service providers to generate these derivative data sets,” noted Haskell. “They can get the LAS files and empower themselves to do that, as they need it, as their project requires. We’ve built this functionality in, so we can export ASCII data and grid data through an export wizard, via irregular polygons, area of interest, custom extents, etc., anything we can think of people want to do to get export data out, and also to tile data on the fly.”

- Blending the imagery with other data layers – This capability is part of GIS Fusion for use in analysis and visualization.

In summary, Haskell said LP360 brings the point cloud to ArcGIS users. By not requiring users to take the LIDAR data to a proprietary format or to a grid, people can work with the point cloud, “which is untapped and we’re providing the first link to providing that full potential.”

Top News of the Week

MapFrame Corporation announced that it was named to Deloitte's 2006 Technology Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications and life sciences companies in North America. Rankings are based on percentage revenue growth over five years, from 2001 - 2005.

Autodesk, Inc. announced that JumpTap will utilize the award-winning Autodesk LocationLogic platform to offer location-based mobile search services to mobile operators in North America and throughout Europe. The strategic alliance between the two companies grew from JumpTap's involvement with the Autodesk Location Services Developer Program, where the two companies shared the vision, resources and support needed to harness the power of location- enabled mobile search. (see last week’s GISWeekly for full story)

In addition, JumpTap announced that it has formed strategic partnerships with, and, Inc. Through all these partnerships, JumpTap is expanding its current mobile search and advertising offerings by providing mobile operators with enhanced, local search capabilities for their subscribers.


Maptuit Corporation announced it has partnered with PeopleNet to provide Maptuit NaviGoTM, truck specific navigation content via its newly announced Enhanced Driver Displays. The content will also be integrated into PeopleNet’s PACOS™ Geofencing platform which will allow for in-transit geo-corridor management and real time out of route alert monitoring for drivers and the back office.

Maptuit Corporation and Cadec Global, a leader in advanced transportation-technology solutions, announced a partnership to offer Maptuit NaviGo(TM) on Cadec's next-generation OBC (Onboard Computer), featuring a Windows(R)-based touch screen with a color display and high-resolution graphical interface.

Tele Atlas announced a license and distribution agreement with Beijing Changdi Youhao Mapping Technologies Co., Ltd., an affiliate of China-based Ritu Information Systems Inc. The agreement gives Tele Atlas Asia- Pacific full map coverage of 337 Chinese cities, complete with censor codes, and puts Tele Atlas in the lead position in the region with maps covering seven countries and territories and hundreds of millions of inhabitants.

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