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Airborne Lidar Industry Understands Value of Standards

Image of Webinar Airborne Lidar Industry is Setting the Standard

Airborne Lidar Industry is Setting the Standard

As I mentioned in a recent post, the airborne lidar industry has had the good fortune and wisdom to continue to follow the time proven mapping standards established for aerial photogrammetry projects. Lidar is basically treated as just another imaging sensor, although there are important differences such as it can’t be calibrated like a metric camera.

To learn more about 3D point accuracy and the USIBD Level of Accuracy (LOA) specification be sure to sign up for this important, free webinar by clicking here. If you register you will have access to the on demand recording.

To a certain extent, the size of the required investments in airborne sensors and platforms forced the adherence to standards. The fact that lidar was only capable of delivering mapping grade, 3D point accuracies left room for higher order ground control surveys to be used to check the results using the ASPRS, FGDC and USGS standards.

Airborne mapping firms are not re-inventing the wheel on  every project. They had to know that if they invested millions of dollars in systems that a market for their services would be there and more importantly what the rules (standards) were going to be for being in the business. Airborne lidar did not produce a proliferation of new mapping firms.

The same cannot be said for terrestrial laser scanning and now the recent explosion of drone mapping. The barriers to entry are coming way down allowing new start-ups who do not have the experience or level of investment to demand that the rules of the game are known before they open up the door for business. Here in the U.S. this is called the “Wild West.” 

In some cases low cost handhelds, carts and backpacks lower the bar even further.

The cost of vehicle-mounted, mobile lidar systems require a significant investment which keeps the bar high, but they have to promise to deliver survey grade, 3D point accuracies that are equivalent to the control survey accuracy, leaving little room for accepted checking procedures. If they didn’t promise survey grade, at least for highways, the transportation agencies would not gain much over manual surveys, except of course for improved safety.

What is the impact of the current Wild West scenario? It is the loss of productivity and more importantly, profitability. Without standards for specifying the scope of work customers will generally default to the low bidder. The entire industry suffers from this approach.

The airborne lidar industry is providing the professional business model for the 3D laser scanning industry. It has been proven successful over the past 75+ years. It includes detailed industry standards as well as certifications for professionals. The USIBD is doing its part (see webinar invitation below) and ASTM E57 made some progress with the data interoperability standard that is being used worldwide, but the end users and the vendors need to do a lot more to support these kinds of efforts.

To learn more about 3D point accuracy and the USIBD Level of Accuracy (LOA) specification be sure to sign up for this important, free webinar by clicking here.

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