What is LiDAR? Where can I download it? (and other answers) – Equator

10 Nov.,2022


Aerial Acquisition

Lidar mapping software examples

Selecting the most compatible software for your lidar data processing typically relies on industry or personal preferences. There are different packages each software may offer and there is a reasonable difference between open-source and paid applications. Therefore, it is best determined by your final job requirements.

Some of the open-source software has been upgraded and can now manage Lidar data without the need to undergo a file conversion. A good illustration of this development is the new QGIS 3 open-source application starting from version 3.18 and onwards. It is now designed to handle lidar point cloud data into different 2D and 3D visualization modes based on the available point attributes. Likewise, it can now accept both LAS and LAZ point cloud formats. On the other hand, its developer team and contributors are continuously working on coding functions for spatial analysis (Viewing Point Clouds – QGIS, n.d.).

Another interesting open-source software is the Whitebox Geospatial Analysis Tools (GAT). In general, it is not the typical mapping software but provides back-end features that support other GIS software. It has features that authorize users to transform LAS files into different DEM forms like a bare-earth DTM or a DSM for forest canopies. Its point cloud data viewing is currently limited to 2D projection. In contrast, its advanced extensions associated with lidar, and remote sensing can be accessed at a cost, but you can try them for free for a limited period. Some of the interesting functions include spatial analyses like point cloud contours generation, lidar segmentation and interpolations, las data conversion into different formats like ASCII and shapefiles, and point cloud data cleansing (5 Best Free LiDAR Software Tools and Applications, 2021).

The GrassGIS is another open-source GIS tool that is also dedicated to both platform users and developers. The software is excellent in executing lidar data binning and grid-based decimation. In lidar data analysis, binning is significant to determine point density on every raster data (Petras, Petrasova, Jeziorska, & Mitasova, 2016). Subsequently, the software has other executable functions for point cloud file conversion, and flood simulation, and hydrological analyses using DEMs.

Other open-source tools include Fugro Viewer and Plas.io provide services on navigating 2D and 3D Lidar data. In contrast, open-source software that depends heavily on coding requires LAS data format to be converted into raster and vector formats, respectively. After such, you have flexible navigation of these spatial data. Furthermore, Open Mapper can process LAS, LAZ, and e57 lidar file formats. e57 format stores components of point cloud data but does not include information about projection (LiDAR Formats, 2020).

ArcGIS Pro is an excellent paid software if you want to navigate and process lidar data and use advanced GIS applications as well. It provides diversified functions like spatial analysis, use of different classification algorithms, interpolation to generate terrain datasets, and image orthorectification. Moreover, the software offers a function that delineates data area out of the raw lidar points, creation of intensity images, and the ability to update attributes of selected lidar datasets. Once point cloud data is converted into raster format, you can further utilize image processing like mosaicking, orthorectification, and volume estimation.

Looking forward to paid software, ENVI offers incredible processing tools for lidar data. It has this ENVI LiDAR, which is already integrated with the main program. It is easy to use and provides comprehensive lidar-specific functions as the software is exclusively created for remote sensing imagery and spatial analyses. Moreover, it also provides an algorithm for tree extraction.

Finally, you may consider viewing LiDAR online using Equator’s LiDAR viewer.