OpenTopography Partner on New Grant to Develop Software Tools to Analyze LiDAR Data

Mar 4, 2013

OpenTopography is a partner on a recently awarded National Science Foundation grant to develop software tools to make it easier for scientists to analyze lidar point cloud data. The collaborative research (NSF awards 1226145 & 1226127 is led by Nancy Glenn (Idaho State University's Department of Geosciences Boise Center Aerospace Laboratory), Andrew Hudak (U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station), and Joe Wheaton (Utah State University).

This collaborative project between Idaho State University (ISU), Utah State University (USU), and USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) will develop the next generation of analytical and processing tools for new airborne and ground-based LiDAR monitoring data. The tools will help earth scientists and natural resource managers exploit these data streams to address some of our most pressing environmental questions and management challenges. The software tools will target Earth Science-specific analysis of 3-D point cloud data from platforms like airborne LiDAR (ALS), ground-based LiDAR (TLS), multi-beam SONAR (MBS), and/or Structure from Motion (SfM). The tool development will scale-up existing documented and proven algorithms to be more accessible, as well as build new algorithms that are necessary to address emerging challenges such as change detection analysis from repeat surveys, improved bare earth surface generation, and novel fusion of point clouds collected from different platforms (e.g. ALS and TLS). The new software will be developed collaboratively between geoscientists and computer scientists to optimize performance when handling the large and often problematic data volumes associated with point clouds. This work will provide a suite of community software that will permit innovative and potentially transformative data analysis with the potential to enhance our understanding of numerous earth surface processes.

Several of the developed tools will be integrated into OpenTopography as part of our ongoing effort to expand the processing capabilities of the OpenTopography system. By leveraging OpenTopography's co-location of data and computing, the new lidar processing tools will permit users to perform on-demand processing and analysis of OpenTopography's growing collection of hosted lidar datasets. In addition, the new software will be made available through OpenTopography's Tool Registry.

Additional details in this ISU BCAL press release: BCAL awarded NSF grant to develop software tools to analyze LiDAR data