Earlier this month a National Research Council report entitled Precise Geodetic Infrastructure: National Requirements for a Shared Resource was published via the National Academies Press. The report, authored by the National Research Council's Committee on the National Requirements for Precision Geodetic Infrastructure and the Committee on Seismology and Geodynamics, is freely available in PDF format.
The emphasis of the report is on:
Recognizing the growing reliance of a wide range of scientific and societal endeavors on infrastructure for precise geodesy, and recognizing geodetic infrastructure as a shared national resource, this book provides an independent assessment of the benefits provided by geodetic observations and networks, as well as a plan for the future development and support of the infrastructure needed to meet the demand for increasingly greater precision. Precise Geodetic Infrastructure makes a series of focused recommendations for upgrading and improving specific elements of the infrastructure, for enhancing the role of the United States in international geodetic services, for evaluating the requirements for a geodetic workforce for the coming decades, and for providing national coordination and advocacy for the various agencies and organizations that contribute to the geodetic infrastructure.
Within the context of the types of LiDAR topography data emphasized by OpenTopography, the report highlights the importance of a strong geodetic infrastructure for topographic mapping, and specifically for providing the necessary control to produce high-accuracy (centimeter) LiDAR surveys. Also highlighted in the report is the importance of precise geodetic infrastructure to allow LiDAR to be used in the future as a geodetic observing tool with millimeter accuracies (also requiring improvements in LiDAR ranging precision), for research and applications related to the coastal zone, wetlands, earthquake faults, landslides, flooding, ice sheet dynamics. The report highlights LiDAR as a example of a rapidly progressing geodetic technology with significant societal impacts:
...many aspects of geodetic techniques, technologies, and data analysis are progressing rapidly today; such trends will likely persist in the foreseeable future. For example, societal applications of geodetic imaging, using active remote sensing tools such as radar and LiDAR with increasing spatial and temporal resolution and improving accuracy, will probably contribute powerfully to this progress.