LiDAR Pilot Project


lidar planeBetsy Boynton, Dyncorp Systems & Solutions, contracted to the USGS. Public domain.

What is LiDAR? LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulse laser to produce high-resolution information about the Earth’s surface. This information can be used to estimate streamflow, snowpack and associated runoff, flood risk, and a host of other water management questions. In addition to water management, LiDAR data are used by many sectors in California including forest/fire, water, and roads and land use.

Why is this project needed? While incredibly valuable, LiDAR data is expensive to collect. Coordinating data acquisition provides opportunities for cost-sharing, enables interoperability across data sets, and avoids data gaps or inconsistencies. It can also ensure that data are collected and shared on an ongoing basis.

What will this project focus on? The California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) is exploring collaborations with entities that collect and use LiDAR data to expand access to high quality LiDAR data across California.

Proposed Project Goals and Objectives

  1. Identify recent and planned LiDAR data collection across private, nongovernmental (NGO), state and federal data collectors and create (or augment existing) map(s) of projects.
  2. Explore opportunities to align data collection to produce economies of scale, expand or improve coverage, increase collaboration and/or close data gaps.
  3. Collaborate with data “owners” to share and aggregate issues and concerns that would impede them from sharing data or prevent them from being willing to make data open and transparent. Work with data “owners” to consider whether shared standards and agreements about data sharing could be a pathway to address those issues and concerns allowing them to share data and make it discoverable and accessible to the public. If so, collaboratively drafting such documents could be a next step recommended by the event participants.
  4. Assuming sufficient interest in sharing data, collaborate to determine needs for effective data sharing where there is interest.
  5. If sufficient collaborators are willing, agree on common (across data collectors) core standards and protocols, including data exchange standards and protocols, necessary to allow data to be aligned, licensed (open or less restrictive) and shared, accessed, and exchanged. Invite data collectors to voluntarily agree to use those standards and collaborate to find funding to support standards and protocol alignment.
  6. Recommend next steps that collaborators could take together.

Project Implementation

The Consortium LiDAR Team is gathering information, building partnerships, and developing materials to host a workshop to explore opportunities for coordinated LiDAR data acquisition in California (see goals above).

A proposed project timeline is shown below.   

  • Project scoping, including outreach meetings to determine interest and uses of LiDAR

    Q1 and Q2 of 2021

  • Planning and coordination of an exploratory workshop

    Q3 and Q4 of 2021

  • Project Workshop

    Q1 of 2022

Venues for Participation

Public Events (see below)

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Public Events

No associated events found.

Project Partners

CA Water Quality Monitoring Council at SWRCB
California Department of Conservation
California Department of Technology
California Government Operations Agency
California Natural Resources Agency
Department of Water Resources
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
State Water Resources Control Board
United States Geological Survey
Water Solutions Network
Watershed Research and Training Center