From the Editor: Transportation Initiatives

A 639Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

Welcome to the ELMF and SPAR Europe early winter edition of LiDAR Magazine. I will be attending the upcoming Bentley Systems Be Inspired Conference in Amsterdam, but our European correspondent, Jan Loedeman, will attend both LiDAR events and will once again provide insightful analysis.

The big news coming out of Intergeo this year seems to be the announcement by Leica Geosystems of a new scanner, the P20 and from Trimble, the OEM version of the Faro Focus 3D, the TX5. I understand that GEOINT was well attended and that there was a lot of interest in LiDAR and related technologies.

I want to provide a quick follow up on the topic of mentoring. I received an email from Alexis Ocasio recommending the ACE–Architecture, Construction and Engineering Mentor program. This program sets up a mock project where high school students play the role of one of the ACE professions as the project progresses from planning to commissioning during the school year. Sounds like a great program.

Over the past couple of months I have become aware of 2 transportation related initiatives that I think are important to bring to your attention as they demonstrate the increasing drive toward the use of 3D technologies and the opportunity that is being created.

In the early days of GIS when it was difficult for potential customers to find the financing for introducing this new technology, one of the business development strategies that became popular was the concept of a mandate. There is nothing like a good old mandate that requires the use of a new product to drive sales from the early adopter phase into the mainstream. Many GIS projects were funded in response to a variety of environmental mandates.

Now, the only thing better than a mandate is a financial incentive. That is exactly what is included in the recently passed highway bill here in the U.S. It seems these highway bills always have to be nicknamed. In this case it is MAP-21. From the website, "MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141), was signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2012. Funding surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014, MAP-21 is the first long-term highway authorization enacted since 2005."

Obviously this is a major accomplishment and one that actually involved bi-partisan support, if you can believe it. This legislation is quite forward-looking and those involved are to be congratulated for their efforts. In addition to an emphasis on the use of performance-based specifications versus prescriptive specs, MAP-21 also includes financial incentives for the use of 3D technology. That’s right–real dollars.

Section 1304 of the legislation authorizes up to 100 percent federal financing for projects that contain innovative technologies such as "digital 3-dimensional modeling" Bingo! . This is a tremendous opportunity for all of us in the 3D business to start a conversation with a Department of Transportation (DOT) about innovative technology such as laser scanning, LiDAR, machine control, 3D modeling–the list goes on and on.

In addition, the FHWA–Federal Highway Administration, the agency that administers the federal funding to the state DOTs–is also promoting the use of 3D through their Every Day Counts initiative. The EDC program is "…designed to identify and deploy innovation aimed at shortening project delivery, enhancing the safety of our roadways, and protecting the environment." Now we’re talkin’.

In the recently announced second round of initiatives, three dimensional modeling is highlighted. From the website, "As the benefits are more widely recognized, many in the U.S. highway industry will transition to 3D modeling over the traditional two-dimensional (2D) design process." This is a once in a generation opportunity to participate in this paradigm shift.

As evidence of the connection, the Utah DOT’s use of mobile mapping to create what they are calling uPlan has been identified as one of round 2 EDC initiatives. The database for this 3-D asset management system was collected by Mandli Communication using a variety of sensors including mobile LiDAR. This program is destined to become a model for transportation agencies here in the U.S. and around the world.

As you will see we have another great line up of articles for you in this issue. If you have a story that you would like to share on an interesting application of 3D technology please be sure to contact me to discuss, and thank you for your ongoing support.

Gene Roe, LS, PE, PhD
Managing Editor & Co-Founder
LiDAR Magazine

A 639Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE