LiDAR Series: TOP 3 & MORE open sources of LiDAR data + download tutorials.


The global LiDAR market size is projected to grow at a CAGR of 22.7% during the period 2019–2026. Driven by growing investments in the development of various business and social areas, the market will rise significantly in the coming years. According to a report published by Fortune Business Insights, titled “Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Market Size, Share & Industry Analysis, By Type (Mechanical and Solid-state), By Deployment (Ground-based and Airborne), By Application (Mapping and Cartography, ADAS (Advanced driver-assistance System), Surveillance, Environment, Exploration and Detection, and Others), By Industry (Automotive, Aerospace and Defense, Healthcare, IT & Telecom, Oil & Gas and Others) and Regional Forecast, 2019–2026,” the market was worth USD 1.32 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 6.71 billion during the forecast period, 2019–2026.

If you want to know what is LiDAR, how it measures the distance, and what features do LiDAR datasets have, check out the previous post.

In this post, we will show you our top3 and even more accessible lidar data sources with download tutorials, which you then can use for your project purposes.

Buckle up!

Open Topography:

Open Topography is an open community system. Every user registered on a website can upload his/her own data for more users to access it.

You can draw a polygon on a map selecting a wanted area or filter datasets by location. After setting the wanted region you can also filter the data by the funder, collector, format, etc.

After doing so, you will get a list of downloadable data with metainformation.

NOAA Data Access Viewer:

This online tool allows a user to search for and download lidar, imagery, and land cover data of the US — hosted by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Office for Coastal Management.

Once found by location, address, or graphically defined area, the data can be downloaded with an easy-to-use checkout interface. Users can select from multiple file formats, projections, and datums.

USGS 3DEP LiDAR Explorer:

The 3D Elevation Program is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Geospatial Program to cover US territory with high-quality LiDAR data by 2023. More about the 3DE program.

USGS provides a convenient user interface to access the data collected throughout the program. As well as in the above examples you can locate the wanted region by setting geographical coordinates, address or simply draw an area polygon. 3DEP contains LiDAR point clouds of five quality levels:

A great advantage of this tool is the availability of an online visualizer. See example usage in the above gif.

More sources:

National Ecological Observatory Network US is an open data repository supported by the US National Science Foundation to understand how the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the US are changing. One can access the full repository of 2013–2017 free LiDAR data via the request form. A subset of airborne data products is also available to download from the data portal.

Centre for the Environmental Data Archival UK made its LiDAR data free for use in 2015 to encourage businesses and communities to build flood risk models. Accurate elevation data is available for over 70% of England, which has been merged and re-sampled to give the best possible coverage. To get access to the point clouds you need to register on a website.

LIPAD Philippines serves as the primary data access and distribution center of the Phil-LiDAR 1 and Phil-LiDAR 2 Programs, with the aim to produce detailed flood hazard and resource maps using LiDAR technology.

National Geographic Institute Spain provides data that covers the entire territory of Spain by point clouds with X, Y, Z coordinates and attributes such as classification or color, obtained by airborne LiDAR sensors. The density of points is 0.5 points per sq meter in the first coverage and 1 point per sq meter in the second coverage.

The National Land Survey of Finland has been collecting laser scanning data of certain parts of Spain to produce elevation models and collect information about forest resources. The aim is to cover the entire country in a few years.

GEOSUD website contains free LiDAR data of a few countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. The list is available on their map.

Archaeology of Slovenia provided the list of free LiDAR data by region in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Oceania. Explore the list to see the availability of formats and quality of the data.

In the next post, we provide a tutorial of object measurement with LiDAR data using Python/C++ packages. As an example object, we will take Lucas Oil Stadium located at 500 S Capitol Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46225, United States. See you there!

Written by Yana Kurlyak & Andriy Kusyy at LetsData

Data Science Consultant

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