USGS 3DEP – The 3D Elevation Map is Half Full

The USGS 3D Elevation Program, or 3DEP is a momentous undertaking in terms of the cost, organizational requirements and the data management, but the good news the country is 50% completed. There will be a keynote presentation at ILMF 2019 by Jim Reilly and Kevin T. Gallagher of USGS on this topic.

status map of USGS 3DEP Partners

USGS 3DEP Partners

When 3DEP was initially envisioned in the 2014 USGS Call for Action publication, a nationwide lidar program seemed an impossible dream due to the estimated cost at $1B and the unprecedented data management challenge that would result. However, rapidly growing data demand, industry efficiency and cost improvements, and documented annual program benefits estimated to potentially reach $13B, convinced the USGS to undertake the audacious goal of nationwide data coverage in 8 years.

The first full year of 3DEP production began in 2016 with the target to complete data acquisition in 2023. Partnerships and funding have been growing every year, and FY18 was a banner year for data acquisition. Today, over 50 percent of the Nation has elevation data that meet 3DEP specifications for high accuracy and resolution that are available or in progress.

This milestone is truly a community achievement, including the partners that fund acquisition, the vibrant lidar industry and private sector mapping firms that collect the data, and a growing and innovative user base. As we celebrate this success, we must also continue to look forward to the challenges of completing nationwide coverage and meeting growing needs for higher quality data, repeat coverage, and new products and services.

The primary goal of the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) is to systematically collect 3D elevation data in the form of light detection and ranging (lidar) data over the conterminous United States, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories, with data acquired over an 8-year period.

For additional information on the 3DEP program click here.

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