A tremendous amount of effort is focused on collecting data about the Earth’s surface using satellites, airplanes, terrestrial mobile mapping units, total stations and many other devices. Even land areas under water are measurable up to a certain depth. It is reasonable to say that we are at the point where nearly everything above ground is mapped.
The dynamic nature of the geospatial profession makes it challenging to predict where the best opportunities might lie in the future; however, the start of a new year is traditionally the time to identify areas of growth and make plans so it’s worth spending some time considering the options.
Back in 2005, staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) realized that it was difficult to locate LiDAR coastal datasets because of the lack of a comprehensive list of available data, so a group started searching among state, county and local government agencies for existing datasets. The result was the first operational inventory of elevation data along United States coastlines.
The slogans “Call before you dig” and “Know what’s below” are familiar reminders of the importance of verifying the location of all kinds of subsurface utility infrastructure before excavation takes place. It only takes a moment for a pipeline or conduit to be damaged by heavy equipment, potentially causing public safety issues and disruption of service; thus the need for subsurface utility engineering (SUE).
LiDAR is the technology of choice for deriving highly accurate terrain data and 3D models. However, combined hardware and software improvements in digital aerial cameras and digital photogrammetry offer new point cloud possibilities.