Lidar is a remote-sensing technology that uses laser pulses to measure surfaces and objects in three dimensions. Millions of data points are collected from a sensor that can be mounted in a variety of aircraft and ground-based mobile platforms.

Lidar has become the predominant method for county-wide topographic mapping in Wisconsin. The technology has changed the way elevation data is acquired and processed and has made topographic data more accurate – and affordable – than ever before.

In 2010-11, a large block of counties in Wisconsin completed Lidar projects under the WROC program. Partner funding came from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) in response to 2008 flooding that occurred throughout the region. The Lidar data was collected and processed by the Ayres Associates team, and the resulting topographic data has been accepted by FEMA for floodplain mapping.

From 2015 to 2022, all counties in Wisconsin conducted lidar projects meeting USGS base specifications. Local and federal funding has aided in the completion of this high accuracy elevation data to support planning and projects at all levels of government. Many counties are now planning to update their lidar at higher pulse densities starting in 2023. If you are interested in discussing more about the benefits of high density lidar, please  contact a WROC representative.

For more information on LiDAR technology and its applications, click here.