New York University releases world’s densest lidar dataset


Professor Debra F Laefer of New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (NYU CUSP) has released the world’s densest urban aerial laser scanning (lidar) dataset.

At over 300 points per square meter, the scanning is more than 30 times more dense than typical lidar data and is an order of magnitude denser than any other aerial lidar dataset. The multi-layered dataset enables new opportunities in exploration and modeling. It also sets a new standard for what can be collected and used by cities around the world.

Dr Laefer, professor of urban informatics at NYU CUSP and affiliated with the Tandon School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Urban Engineering, was the founder and former head of University College Dublin’s Urban Modeling Group in Dublin, Ireland.

The dataset was collected and processed as part of Professor Laefer’s European Research Council (ERC) US$1.7m research grant ‘Rethinking Tunneling in Urban Neighborhoods’ (RETURN), with additional funding from Science Foundation Ireland.

Using techniques developed by Professor Laefer’s research team, the dataset provides high resolution lidar data for a 1.5km² study area of Dublin’s historic city center. The data covers not only the horizontal surfaces (e.g. roofs and roads) of the built environment, as seen in traditional lidar projects, but it also provides dense vertical data including the capture of building facades.

The work builds on a previously publically-released dataset (aerial laser scanning and imagery) and more than a decade of research. Permission is currently being sought to acquire similar data for New York City.

“A city-scale dataset of this level can be applied to many projects to improve services,” said Laefer. “This extraordinary level of data quality, combined with open access through NYU’s Spatial Data Repository, will help pioneer new possibilities for visualisation and analyses by urban engineers, civic agencies, and entrepreneurs trying to identify and ultimately solve urban challenges of all kinds.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).