Liberating LiDAR Data to Increase Operational Productivity

LiDAR technologys next contribution to productivity increases in design, engineering and construction operations will not come from faster LiDAR scanners or more automated processing software. Instead it will be achieved by liberating LiDAR data itself allowing downstream operational processes quick and easy access to it. While the majority of Certainty 3D customers still use TopoDOT to extract high quality CAD models within survey/mapping operations, we see a clearly increasing trend of new TopoDOT users who are in these downstream design, engineering and construction operations.

These new users have increasingly experienced the productivity benefits of the MAeX workflow. This workflow employs TopoDOT to Manage LiDAR data, Assess LiDAR data quality and eXtract information, models and inform design decisions directly within the operation itself.

Stuck LiDAR Data and Inefficient Workflows

This Liberation of LiDAR Data represents a significant departure from the current norm wherein only 3D models extracted from LiDAR data feed these operations. Of course this current process still represents a dramatic value over traditional survey methods as models are delivered faster, at lower cost and higher quality. However since the models alone feed established downstream processes, the LiDAR data itself typically gets stuck at the beginning of the process. Since a LiDAR data set is rich in information that is valuable across operations much of that rich information content is stuck also and inaccessible to downstream operations.

The current practice of extracting the model within survey/mapping operations and using it alone to feed the downstream operation results in the following inefficiencies. These are:



Unnecessary communication

Over-modeling basically describes the practice of extracting much more information from the LiDAR data than necessary. The topic of model specification is much discussed within the LiDAR community. How do designers, engineers and construction personnel place requirements on the extracted model to assure the necessary information is available to them?

Pose the question to any of these professionals and you they will typically take you to the 60%-40% rule. Basically they know a design can be implemented with about 40% of the models information. They just dont know which 40% it will be, when theyll need it and what requirements are necessary for any specific area. Given this understandable uncertainty the model requirements typically gravitate toward the highest levels of accuracy and detail across the entire model. Compounding these requirements with the 60%-40% rule results in over-modeling; an expensive and time consuming process.

Under-modeling refers to features modeled to insufficient detail or simply not modeled at all. While it may be counterintuitive, under-modeling typically takes place in parallel with over-modeling. As the modeling technician cannot conceivably know in advance all features important to all downstream processes, he may be extracting many areas with too much detail and accuracy while not including other significant features in the model at all. These features are thus lost to the downstream operations who may need them.

Unnecessary Communication results from restricting LiDAR data access and modeling operations to the upfront survey/mapping operations. This inherently requires downstream operations to identify, describe and submit requests for additional modeling, measurements, and features. Compound this expense with under-modeling and the request may never be submitted as the downstream operation might never know the information is even available. Such communication is expensive and time consuming.

Liberating LiDAR Data Will Achieve the Next Level of Productivity!!

Providing access to LiDAR data along with the tools such as TopoDOT to provide the MAeX capabilities will greatly overcome the inefficiencies of over-modeling, under-modeling and unnecessary communication.

At the very beginning in the survey/mapping operation original modeling requirements can be reduced to some relatively simple intelligent elements providing initial structure to the data. Such elements might be the edge of pavement and centerline along a roadway or the floor plan of a room. Then for example, designers and engineers can quickly examine the LiDAR data efficiently placing priorities on modeling requirements and scheduling. Such direct feedback then greatly decreases over-modeling inefficiency.

Access to the LiDAR data allows the engineering, design and construction personnel to see the information contained in the data. Typically TopoDOT users will quickly extract specific measurements or features themselves. Should more detailed extraction be necessary they will submit a request with well-defined requirements for more detailed model extraction in a specific area. In such cases, access to LiDAR data practically eliminates the inefficiencies of under-modeling.

Finally this universal access to the same LiDAR data will serve to keep unnecessary communication to a minimum. Defining requirements and schedules for extracting models from the LiDAR data becomes much more efficient when all parties have access to the same data. Moreover capable processing tools such as TopoDOT empower downstream operational professionals to perform simple extractions quickly as needed thereby avoiding extraneous communication altogether.

So while Certainty 3D still sees the majority of TopoDOT customers extracting detailed models within survey/mapping operations, an increasing number of TopoDOT users are providing increased access to LiDAR data across their operations. The results have included more effective decision making, an optimized modeling process and more efficient communication. Therefore we expect the next level of LiDAR related productivity to be achieved through LiDAR Data Liberation.