Lidar Support in Global Mapper

Lidar has become an integral part of GIS mapping and analysis. Global Mapper is well known for its ability to import, analyze, edit and export Lidar datasets. With Global Mapper’s Lidar Module, advanced functionality is leveraged through an easy to use Lidar Toolbar. New display options enables users to view points by height above ground to visualize vegetation and building heights. Access to the Lidar Module tools require a separate license*.

Lidar Data

Light detection and ranging (Lidar) mapping, sometimes called 3D laser scanning, is a method for gathering precise geospatial information on the shape and surface characteristics for a specific collection area. The method for collecting Lidar data produces very dense, large files that can be cumbersome to handle. Global Mapper’s Lidar Module manages these large files with superior speed and efficiency.

Lidar data is commonly delivered in two standard file format types: .LAS and .LAZ. The LAS file format is a public file format for the interchange of 3-dimensional point cloud, it is a binary file that retains the information specific to Lidar data (unlike a generic ASCII). The .LAZ file format is a compressed version of .LAS.

Importing Lidar Data

Importing lidar data has been made easy in Global Mapper. Global Mapper offers native support for LiDAR data. All ASPRS supported file formats (.las, .las, .gz, .laz, .tar, .gz, .tgz, .zip) can be directly imported through the Open Data Files option in the File Menu. There is also support for loading ESRI zLas files. After navigating to the saved file location and clicking open, the user will be presented with the Lidar Load Options dialog box. The Lidar Load Options dialog box enables users to filter and grid a point cloud prior to loading data into Global Mapper.

The Lidar Module also supports import of additional point file formats including: 

Analyzing and Classifying Lidar Data

The .LAS file format is a binary file format that maintains information specific to a lidar dataset, without being very complex.  Files with the extension named as LAS should conform to the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) LIDAR data exchange format standard.

Global Mapper has numerous tools for displaying and utilizing ASPRS Lidar classifications, which were created for use with LAS formats 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4. Point classification present in a Lidar file can vary by LAS version starting with the Lidar Load Options which allows customized importation of the ASPRS defined point classifications listed below.   

0  Never classified
1  Unassigned
2  Ground
3  Low Vegetation
4  Medium Vegetation
5  High Vegetation
6  Building
7  Low Point (Noise)
8  Model Key-point (mass point)
9  Water
10 Railroad
11 Road
12 Overlap
13 Wire - Guard (Shield)
14 Wire - Conductor (Phase)
15 Transmission Tower
16 Wire-structure Connector
17 Bridge
18 High Point (Noise)
19 - 255 Reserved for ASPRS Definition

Changing Existing Classification Codes

With the Lidar Module, you can manually classify lidar points, in addition to using lidar auto-classification tools on unclassified Lidar data. These classification tools are available in the Lidar Toolbar, and distributed throughout the application in various editing, load, and export menus.

Lidar data processing can also utilize the multiple return signals from each laser pulse. Intensity is a measure, if the number of lidar returns generated for a single point. Most topographic lidar systems record the intensity of the return pulse, measuring the strength of the return. The number of returns will be determined by the composition of the surface object reflecting the return.

The Intensity values can be used to create an image, and are commonly used in for identifying and classifying different ground features and can be used as a substitute for aerial imagery.

Applying Classification Codes to Unclassified Lidar Data

Among the Lidar tools for editing classification, classification display and analysis are; Lidar Display, the Configuration Lidar tab. Additional options for advanced classification, and feature creation and analysis based on LAS elevation and intensity values are activated with the Lidar Module.  

Feature Extraction from Lidar Points

Global Mapper also allows you to automate the process of locating features on the ground using Lidar data. These automated feature extraction tools are available with the Lidar Module.

The Lidar Module also allows you to do Custom Feature Extraction using perpendicular path profile views.

* All content for the Lidar Module is included in the Global Mapper application. To access the Lidar Module tools, the license will need to be activated in a registered instance of the Global Mapper application.