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Making Our Lidar Dreams Come True Print E-mail
Written by Dr. David F. Maune   
Wednesday, 04 April 2018

A 1.474Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Whenever I autograph a copy of one of my books, I write "May all your DEMs come true," an obvious play on words with "May all your dreams come true." After winning the 2018 LIDAR Leader Award for Outstanding Personal Achievement in lidar, sponsored by ILMF and LIDAR Magazine, I was asked to summarize the comments in my acceptance speech on my past and future dreams for lidar. Chronologically, my lidar dreams started in 1997, when I first evaluated lidar and IfSAR for FEMA's use in flood hazard studies.

Shortly thereafter the National Geodetic Survey tasked me to prepare a study on how to modernize the National Height System in the U.S., which at that time was based on differential leveling. In NGS's National Height Modernization Study (1998), I proposed GPS surveys relative to CORS, plus nationwide lidar and IfSAR.

In 1998, I managed the first of Dewberry's many lidar task orders for USGS and in 2000 received USGS's Highest Quality Achievement Award for "outstanding achievements in producing lidar products of the highest quality in a timely manner."

At the ASPRS Annual Conference in 2000 in Washington, DC, I published a paper entitled, "Lidar and IFSAR: Pitfalls and Opportunities for our Future". It was so well received that ASPRS asked me to write a book on lidar and IfSAR; the DEM Users Manual (2001) also included sonar, photogrammetry and many other chapters.

I co-authored FEMA's initial Appendix 4B lidar guidelines in 1998 and was the prime author of Appendix A to FEMA's Guidelines and Specifications (2002), which, with updates, served as the industry's de facto lidar specification until 2010, when USGS published its first draft lidar specifications. I represented FEMA on a committee of the National Digital Elevation Program and was the primary author of the NDEP Guidelines for Digital Elevation Data (2004).

Because so many people kept asking me for sample DEMs from lidar and other technologies, we published the 2nd edition of the DEM Users Manual (2007), which included a DVD with sample datasets.

I authored the NRCS Digital Elevation Model (DEM) Whitepaper:NRCS High Resolution Elevation Data (2011), as a USGS task order. This work was a pilot for the NEEA [NRCS is the National Resources Conservation Service of the US Department of Agriculure; NEEA is the National Enhanced Elevation Assessment].

In 2012, I authored the National Enhanced Elevation Assessment report, providing the blueprint for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). This program is enormously successful today, largely due to the extensive benefit/cost analyses that document a minimum of 5:1 lidar return on investment (ROI). I owe special thanks to all who submitted their requirements and benefits.

I worked with Qassim Abdullah, Doug Smith and Karl Heidemann in authoring the ASPRS Positional Accuracy Standards for Digital Geospatial Data (2014) and with Karl on three USGS Lidar Base Specifications--all providing guidance on accuracy testing of lidar data.

In 2015, Amar Nayegandhi and I authored the Engineer Manual 1110-1-1000, Photogrammetric and LiDAR Mapping, of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Later in 2018, Amar and I will publish the 3rd edition of the DEM Users Manual, with updates to all chapters; the eBook version will have hyperlinks for all references. I owe special thanks to all the co-authors who contributed chapters or input for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions, which bring to fruition many of my dreams.

My earlier dreams included: (1) develop high-accuracy, affordable elevation technologies for betterment of society; (2) develop and update DEM technology standards, guidelines and specifications; and (3) implement a nationwide program, such as the 3DEP, to produce and maintain standardized high-quality DEMs used by all. These dreams are largely realized today, as documented in the DEM Users Manual, 3rd edition.

My future dreams include: (4) develop a seamless "3D Nation" from the tops of the mountains to the depths of the seas, to include inland bathymetry; (5) routinely use the latest elevation data to update the National Hydrography Dataset, flood studies, forest metrics and other datasets that require up-to-date DEMs; and (6) develop lidar applications to support fully the dozens of business uses and hundreds of missioncritical activities (MCAs) documented in the NEEA study and the 3D Nation Requirements and Benefits Study being conducted in 2018. For these future dreams to be fulfilled, it's time for me to "pass the torch" to Amar and the younger lidar professionals who will lead us into the 3D Nation of the future.

For the 3D Nation study, it is absolutely imperative that we identify DEM users who can document their MCA requirements and the dollar benefits accruing to these MCAs if they receive the topographic/bathymetric DEM Quality Levels and update frequencies required. If so, we can make all our dreams come true.

Dr. David Maune, CP, is an Associate Vice President at Dewberry Consultants LLC, headquartered in Fairfax, VA, where he is an elevation specialist and manages photogrammetric, lidar, IfSAR, and sonar projects for USGS, NOAA, FEMA, USACE, and other federal, state and county government organizations. He is an ASPRS Fellow and winner of the ASPRS Photogrammetric (Fairchild) Award. He is the editor and principal author of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions of Digital Elevation Model Technologies and Applications: The DEM Users Manual, published by ASPRS.. He authored the National Enhanced Elevation Assessment (NEEA) report that led to USGS's 3DEP. He co-authored the ASPRS Positional Accuracy Standards for Digital Geospatial Data. He is a retired Army Colonel, last serving as Commander and Director of the U.S. Army Topographic Engineering Center (TEC), now the Army Geospatial Center (AGC).

A 1.474Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

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