The International LiDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) Conference, held in Denver from Feb. 11-13, attracted a record number of 858 registrations from over 30 countries and has been hailed as the most successful conference in the event’s 13-year history. The ILMF focuses on the use of LiDAR to support transport, urban modeling, coastal zone mapping, utility asset management, 3D visualization and GIS applications.

The conference included a technical program of over 50 individual technical papers, workshop sessions, ASPRS Hot Topics sessions and an extensive exhibition of the latest technologies and services in the LiDAR, 3D imaging and mapping industries. Over 70 specialist businesses displayed advances in laser scanning sensors and applications.

The conference opened with a plenary session by Conference Chairman Alastair Mac Donald of TMS International, who noted that imaging technologies were now keeping pace with the speed of development of LiDAR scanner technology. End-user demand for innovative, fast and flexible imaging and data visualization solutions is a major driver in the global mapping market, and advances in the capabilities of LiDAR and laser scanning systems were reaching new milestones. LiDAR was being used on water for the first time to measure oceanographic current profiles, and underwater for precision imaging in turbid waters. New hand-held laser scanners enable almost instantaneous scan-to-3D models of interior spaces for the commercial real estate market.

The technical conference was considered to be very successful with 33 varied and informative papers covering not only technical issues, but experiences of real life projects. The paper by Stan Burns, director of asset management, Utah Department of Transportation, illustrated the present and future benefits of LiDAR in managing the quality, safety, maintenance programs and budgetary planning of the state’s highway network. KC Kroll of Woolpert showed how LiDAR and GIS data can be leveraged to predict roof solar energy efficiency. Dr. Gene Roe updated delegates on the need for a national set of guidelines for the rapidly expanding mobile mapping sector in order to make a better educated customer. Dr. Andreas Ulrich of RIEGL, analyzed a comparison between single and multi-laser output scanners.

Anders Eklund of Airborne Hydrography, Sweden, detailed recent advances in bathymetric LiDAR. Lewis Graham of GeoCue delivered an exciting analysis of how and why micro Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) capable of carrying miniature cameras might be the next generation of survey and mapping tools. Mark Rahmes of Harris Corporation explained how the use of 3D fractal algorithms, whilst currently computationally intensive, could be particularly appropriate for void filling in indoor LiDAR acquisition where obscuration can be encountered. Keith Raymond of Bentley, France examined the opportunities to use point cloud data to reduce the need for geometric-based models and also site visits by streaming data direct to PCs on desks. Examining multi-sensor fusion, Mike Twohig of Surface Search International detailed how ground penetrating radar can be allied to LiDAR and other sensors in order to identify, locate and map underground utilities as a major means of improving urban safety.

The director of ILMF, Versha Carter, comments, “We are delighted with the success of our 13th ILMF - the third in Denver. Delegate figures continue to rise year on year and this year has been no exception. The industry is developing and evolving at a rapid rate and the conference program represented the advances in the industry. The feedback from both delegates and exhibitors has been fantastic, and the atmosphere during the conference and on the exhibit floor was buzzing. I would like to thank our speakers and exhibitors for another fantastic event.”