Top 6 Free LiDAR Data Sources

LiDAR Point Cloud

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2017

How to download free LiDAR data online

Does it feel like a big challenge to find LiDAR data sources?

How about free LiDAR data sources?

We understand. LiDAR is a beast of a dataset to work with. What other GIS formats have its OWN compression format (LAZ). C’mon! Have you ever seen a shapefile with its OWN compression format?

This fact alone makes LiDAR repositories national treasures in GIS.

So as Dr. Evil would say *pinky in the mouth*

Dr. Evil LiDAR Laser

BRING OUT THE LASER

(Laser for LiDAR, of course).

We’re bringing out the lasers in this special post on free LiDAR data sources.

1 Open Topography

open topography web application with free lidar data




Open Topography has made our list of the 10 best free global raster and vector data sources. So why not have them at #1 in a list specializing in LiDAR data sources?

If you don’t know about Open Topography, you should probably take a peek. The beauty behind Open Topography is its open community system. When users register, they can upload their data so that the larger community can access it.

You too can help grow Open Topography into one of the biggest open data portals for free LiDAR data. Pretty neat.

  • Open Topography is a collaborative data repository for LiDAR users.
  • Intuitive web map displays LiDAR points as downloadable data with metadata

2 USGS Earth Explorer

lidar usgs earth explorer




Previously, USGS LiDAR data could be accessed through CLICK (Center for LiDAR Information Coordination and Knowledge). However, this service is now being provided by the USGS Earth Explorer.

So you want USGS Earth Explorer LiDAR data? If you’re new to this platform, we have a quick guide to download data on the USGS Earth Explorer.

For LiDAR, it’s a simple process:

First, enter your search criteria (kml, coordinates, etc.). Next, select the checkbox for LiDAR in the data sets tab. Finally, click the results tab to see what LiDAR datasets are available.

  • Search for LiDAR data with a user-friendly state-of-the-art interface
  • Filter searches by time and set region of interests in map by predefine areas and coordinates

Also, USGS Earth Explorer sits on top of our 15 free satellite data sources, so it’s definitely worth your time to know it inside out.

3 United States Interagency Elevation Inventory

USIEI Inventory

There’s been a movement in the United States for a National LiDAR Dataset. This innitiative is being led by the United States Interagency Elevation Inventory (USIEI). Also, it’s in collaboration with NOAA and USGS.

Several states have moved forward in their own collections. To see exactly which states they are, the USIEI Inventory gives you this information along with vertical accuracy, point spacing, and date of collection. Downloading the physical data is not so straight-forward. The National LiDAR Dataset Wikipedia page maintains download source locations.

  • LiDAR sources are decentralized with partial and incomplete data across the United States
  • USIEI LiDAR data viewer displays the nationwide listing of known high-accuracy topographic data

4 NOAA Digital Coast

Digital Coast LiDAR Data Viewer

NOAA’s mission (in the sense of LiDAR data) is clear. Overall, they want to capture coastal area LiDAR data. This data is then served to the public.

NOAA’s Digital Coast webmap gives you the ability to know exactly where coastal LiDAR is located in the United States. This makes your search for coastal LiDAR data a no-brainer. Go with NOAA.

  • Slick web application to search, analyze and download free LiDAR data.
  • Draw area of interest and click LiDAR data download.

5 LIDAR Online

lidar online screenshot

Who knows? This may be where the future of LiDAR is going – a global LiDAR map. Don’t laugh. We have the Earth mapped with optical imagery already.

LiDAR Online’s mission is ambitious. No matter where you live, this data source shows you exactly where on Earth is LiDAR. Admittedly, a little bare now in terms of LiDAR sources, LiDAR Online shows a lot of promise.

  • LiDAR spans the globe – mostly Europe, North and South America and Africa.
  • Webmap with points delineating free LiDAR data sources.

6 National Ecological Observatory Network – NEON

NEON Airborne LiDAR

One of the cool things about the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is that they are funded by the National Science Foundation. Another neat thing about NEON is the amazing work they are doing with airborne LiDAR to map out vegetation stands.

Although some of NEON’s data may not have sufficient QA/QC to meet the end-user’s needs, we still think NEON’s airborne LiDAR data has some serious potential.

  • Minimal selection of LiDAR because in construction phase
  • Beginning of a collection of publicly available LiDAR

LiDAR Mapping

Before reading this article, you probably thought free LiDAR data was hard to come by?

Now, you know it’s not so bad.

We’ve provided you with 6 free LiDAR data sources options.

Instantly, you’ve mastered the art of attaining LiDAR point cloud data at no cost.

24 Comments

  1. I have read about Lidar, and I am very interested in this.
    I would like to ask in what format do you save the files ?(jpg, tif, etc). Or do you have your own type and software to process these images, and if so, what are they? Thank in advance.

  2. Because the file sizes are so large for LiDAR, they are typically stored in LAS or its compressed version LAZ. When you process LiDAR data, you can convert to ASCII, GeoTIF and several other formatfs.

    There are open source options available to convert LiDAR files. For example, ArcMap can do it. But, there are open source options too. My personal favorite free open source LiDAR conversion software is Whitebox Geospatial Analysis Toolbox GAT. Many people don’t know about it but its very powerful. We’ll make a tutorial on converting LAS files in the near future. Thanks for your question!

  3. Hi. I want to download orthophotos with Point Cloud (.las file) for 3d modeling in Microstation.
    Do you know any websites?

  4. I would suggest handling this type of data in MapInfo Pro Advanced, it has been designed to convert, combine and compress these large files in to a format that is easy to use and query.

  5. Interesting post!

    We need more posts like this to keep working on similar platforms for anyone can understand, work and use available LiDAR data. Thank you!!

    LiDAR online 2.0 will be back in 2016 with much more worldwide free datasets to be downloaded, displayed on 3D or measured among others.

    For now the platform is under work (sorry). We apologize for any inconvenience and will be back shortly better than ever.

  6. http://www.lidar-online.com site behaves strangely. If you check the info of most of datasets they are said to be free but the download button is not there. After two days of unsuccessfully searching for download button and watching the tutorial of how to use the site (the download was happily available on the video) I decided to go to FAQs. There, it was said that 5€ was the minimum payment to be able to download or use LiDAR data online. OK, I decided to pay but on the payment page the minimum charge turned out to be 10€. This doesn’t seem like a serious aproach and makes me think that once I pay 10, on the later stages the conditions might change again. Decided not to deal with them.

  7. A useful resource for UK lidar can be found at
    http://environment.data.gov.uk/ds/survey/index.jsp#/survey

    Coverage is patchy but hey, it’s free and open access. Easy to obtain – click on the map to see what is available in that area. Available data may then be downloaded as composite DTM or DSM, unzips into .asc files. Resolution is mostly 1 or 2 meters but there is some sub-1m data there too.

  8. Hi Everyone,
    Just found this site on google searching. Anyone out there from Eastern Canada, specifically northern New Brunswick, Canada. Interested in locating mineralized fault zones or buried massive sulphides, any pointers on locating lidar maps dealing with such problems….. would be greatly appreciated. Retired geologist getting bored.
    John

  9. If you have any high rise building las files and corresponding image, please share.

  10. I searched on those 6 websites and couldn’t find anything, unfortunately.

    I’ve actually had luck in the past reaching out to local government, not-for-profit agencies, etc. If you can explain the purpose of your project, some groups are very willing to share – as long as you sign some sort of an agreement. You might be surprised.

    Good luck in your search. Sorry I couldn’t be much help

  11. Do you know of any LiDAR data sets for Mexico City? I searched through all these (I think!) but no luck. Free or for purchase, any recommendation is helpful. Thanks!

  12. Hello everyone,

    On the websites below you find Lidar data from the Netherlands. Its called “Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland”. It was collected during 3 periods.

    AHN1: 1996 – 2003
    AHN2: 2007 – 2012
    AHN3: 2014 – 2019

    The data is available in different resolutions and free downloadable.

    AHN1: 100, 25 and 5 meter maaiveldraster (surfaceraster) and a “puntenwolk” pointcloud
    AHN2 and 3 are available in 0.5 and 5 meter maaiveldraster (surfaceraster) and a pointcloud

    Download:
    AHN 1 and 2:
    https://www.pdok.nl/nl/producten/pdok-downloads/atomfeeds

    AHN3:
    https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?useExisting=1&layers=9039d4ec38ed444587c46f8689f0435e

  13. Does anyone know if there is any free LIDAR data available for Australia. I need to identify large farming properties in some of the states within the country.

  14. Let me know the availbility of LiDAR data for Java Island, Indonesia, especially in Yogyakarta

  15. So I am very familiar with many of these sites…. but where did that Golden Gate Bridge Lidar come from? I have not come across that one (I have the one from NOAA but it does not have that resolution as pictured at the top of the page

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