Point of Beginning

Pointools Laser Models Add Third Dimension to Belgium Mapping Project

August 10, 2010
Over 1,200 square kilometers of Belgium have been digitally mapped using Pointools' software.



A hi-tech digital map captured using laser scanning technology is being created for the Flanders region of Belgium using British developed 3D mapping software. Using the Pointools ‘point cloud’ software, Belgian surveying company Teccon has processed billions of individual measurements to create high accuracy data for use by central and regional government, plus utility companies and the transport sector. A combination of surveying techniques including mobile laser mapping, satellite navigation and more traditional field and office data capture methodologies has resulted in an attributed base map which now covers more than 1,200 square kilometers.

 The Grootschalig Referentie Bestand (GRB) is a project by the Agency for Geographic Information Flanders (AGIV) to create large scale mapping for the region. Unlike traditional paper based mapping the project aims to create an ‘inventory’ of ground features – including waterways, railways, roads and administrative plots, etc – recording the position, extent and characteristics of every feature. Using a combination of mobile laser mapping, total station measurements, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), stereo photography and existing data Teccon has compiled millions of point, line and polygon map features.

 “In order to obtain the highest positional accuracies our mobile laser scanning system has proved to be the most cost effective solution,” commented Bruno Van Bastelaere, Co-owner of Teccon. “Having tested several software packages to process this data we selected Pointools ‘point cloud’ software together with the Rhinoceros package as the combined solution offered high productivity with a small learning curve.”

 Using the mobile laser scanning or LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system Teccon traveled over 6,000 kilometers along Flemish roads capturing billions of laser scanned measurements or points. Different features are extracted from the ‘point cloud’ data and mapped to different layers. Existing data can be overlaid with the newly captured measurements to identify areas of change or missing base data.  

 “The speed at which Pointools is able to render these huge point clouds is amazing,” continued Bruno Van Bastelaere. “In fact we sometimes find ourselves panning through a new data set just for the fun of it! Before, good point cloud software was expensive and limited in the number of points – a maximum of 50 million on a workstation. Using Pointools’ free viewer we can load and visualize a billion plus points on a standard laptop. This has unlocked the potential of laser scanners for us and for our customers and we are proud to act as resellers for this industry leading software.”