I’ve written before, on this site, as well as in the print editions, about the stream of rich content that has become available online as covid has rampaged through our calendar of planned f2f conferences and trade shows. On 22 October 2020 I had a wonderful day – well, eight hours starting at 5 am Pacific time – attending The Fall 2020 LiDAR Workshop, run by the ASPRS Florida Region. The event was chaired by Region president Xan Fredericks (USGS) and hosted by Dr. Al Karlin (Dewberry), who has supported the magazine with a series of high-quality articles, another of which will imminently appear in the next issue. Throughout the day, the presentations were short, well prepared, well illustrated and compelling. We have reached the stage in online events where it is accepted that some presenters prefer to pre-record, whereas others relish the extra frisson from presenting live.
The opening session comprised updates from Florida’s five Water Districts, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, USGS and Florida State Lidar. When the efforts of all these organizations are combined, there is enormous lidar activity in Florida, not surprising in view of the juxtaposition, in a region beset by acute weather events, of heavily populated areas, tourist attractions, ocean and critical wetlands – the demand for frequently refreshed, highly accurate elevation data is self-evident. The program continued with a thoughtful keynote from Riegl veteran James Van Rens, “Lidar in the 2020s”, followed by a tribute to Bon Dewitt, the well known Florida photogrammetist who has retired from the Florida Region’s board after serving ASPRS faithfully and well for several decades.
The meeting was supported by 11 sponsors, all of whom gave presentations – Surdex, GeoCue, Dewberry, Riegl USA, GPI, Quantum Spatial, Woolpert, NEI, ASTRA Space, Kucera International and Sanborn Mapping. The presenters eschewed effusive company pitches in favor of interesting insights into products, services and projects. Then there were academic presentations, by fine presenters from Florida Atlantic University, University of Florida and University of South Florida. The program concluded with open discussion.
Al Karlin sent me some statistics. There were 178 unique logins for the event and eight phone-callers. The maximum number of attendees at any one time was 147. In previous years, of course, the event has been held live, and the capacity of 110 in the venue at the University of Florida was reached in 2019. So the online format enabled a larger attendance. Moreover, it extended to out-of-state attendees such as myself and even international ones, including participants from Brazil and Netherlands. We take global communication for granted today, naturally, but for me it was a special pleasure to listen, in my home office, to Carol Lockhart (Woolpert), a University of Glasgow alumna, comparing the performances of topobathymetric lidar with sonar, based on a project in Tonga. LIDAR Magazine is seeking to publish some of the presentations, so that we can bring all readers the benefits of this excellent event. The next in the series will be in the spring and we plan to be there.
A week later, I tuned into a Leica Geosystems webinar, “Leica TerrainMapper-2: New Generation Airborne LiDAR Solution”, presented by product manager Ron Roth. Ron has been a close friend of mine since 1999, when the process began that resulted, in 2001, in LH Systems’ acquisition of Azimuth Corporation and its airborne lidar system, which became the Leica ALS40. Leica TerrainMapper-2 is a combined lidar and imagery system, based on Hyperion 2+, an improved version of the lidar core of the Leica TerrainMapper, together with two MFC 150 medium-format cameras and the PAV100-HPH (high performance, heavy load) gyro-stabilized mount. Leica Geosystems marketers are well able to bring you the details themselves, so I’ll make only two comments. Firstly, I was delighted that Ron likened the forward-motion compensation in the MFC 150 to that in the aerial film cameras (first introduced for the RC20 in 1987). Secondly, significant time remained for a substantive Q&A session, moderated by Wolfgang Hesse. Ron gave extremely detailed answers to a several highly relevant questions. For sure, Leica Geosystems’ competitors mount equally impressive events – my point is that we have access to professional update at such a high level.
I am now anticipating the next online bonanza. The ASPRS Pacific Southwest Region is running an event called “1st Annual Remote Sensing & Wildland Fire Symposium”. For those of us like myself who find it hard to sit still for a whole day of online education, this event is a godsend – it takes place for two hours on each of the first four Mondays of November. It’s not all lidar, but as wildfires rage and mass evacuations take place in Orange County, whatever cocktail of technologies and experts meets firefighters’ information needs is vital and geospatial folk who apply their skills to this challenge can make a huge difference. Click here for detailed information.