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Dale Lutz

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About Data    |   July 8, 2011   |   By Dale Lutz

The LiDAR / GIS Divide will Shrink with ArcGIS 10.1

One thing I always enjoy about Esri’s events is that, unlike say Apple, Esri always shows people what’s coming in their products long before release time. Next week’s Esri UC will be no exception – and I’m certain there will be a lot of excitement and buzz around ArcGIS 10.1 – especially with the addition of native support for LAS. This is a big deal!

It’s noteworthy because it signals that the divide between LiDAR and GIS is shrinking. But before I get into that, check out what Esri has to say about their new LiDAR support.

Q: How will Lidar data be supported in ArcGIS 10.1?

A: Lidar data is becoming more common and more affordable, and we want our users to be able to leverage this great 3D content within their GIS workflows. At ArcGIS 10.1, Lidar data can be managed, viewed, updated, and shared, all while remaining in its native format. It can provide context around existing GIS features, as well as construct surfaces for direct analysis.

read more here

The Shrinking Divide between LiDAR and GIS

The past few days I’ve been preparing for my talk at the Survey Summit. There I’ll be showing how to use the 10.1 versions of ArcGIS + Data Interoperability Extension to clip, slice, dice, reproject, and generally prepare and use LiDAR data.

As I’ve been working through these standard LiDAR preparation use cases, I was reminded again of Gene Roe’s comment to me some months ago when we unveiled our LiDAR support, saying – if I may paraphrase: “The data used to have power over the people, but now the people have power over the data”. Even more compelling is the ability to do all this from within the ArcGIS environment. Just as the divide between vector and raster has been dissolving for GIS practitioners over the years, so I’m seeing the LiDAR/GIS divide disappearing before my eyes.

The applications of this shrinking divide are going to be many. At last month’s MundoGeo Connect Conference in Brazil, the main action on the show floor was all around data collection. And much of that was point cloud collection.

By capturing reality digitally, and then integrating it with all other types of geospatial data into a platform like ArcGIS, it is clear that we will truly be able to realize this year’s conference theme of “Understanding Our World”.

Whether it’s making decisions about environmental, infrastructure, agricultural, transportation, or even crime scene issues, there’s no doubt that the ability to fuse measured reality with other abstractions will improve the process.

Have you seen the LiDAR/GIS divide beginning to close at your workplace? What additional value will it offer you? …and what challenges still exist?