Open Data resources – CoV releases 2022 LiDAR 3D point cloud data

LiDAR (3D point cloud) data from the City of Vancouver’s Open Data site (collected Sept 2022), viewed in Unreal Engine 5.2

The City of Vancouver has recently released 3D point data (LiDAR) on the website. This data was collected in September of 2022 and released on April 18, 2023. The previous LiDAR dataset on the City’s website is from 2018. The release notes for this new dataset state that the points have a “Vertical accuracy: 0.081 metre (95% confidence level)”. This data can be very useful to get approximate heights of the ground terrain, of building and of heights other structures. The LiDAR data can also be used for other purposes, such as tree canopy coverage calculations.

Viewing the data

There are a fair number of freely available LiDAR viewers, such as QGIS and Cloud compare. It’s possible to download the file(s) for your area of interest directly from the Open Data site (the dataset is broken down into 67 square tiles to cover the city, saved in a .las format). The LiDAR data can also be loaded directly into a game engine, such as Unreal Engine 5.2.

It’s often a good practice to translate the points to a local origin during import in order to preserve precision. A possible offset to use for Vancouver is (-490000.00, -5460000.00)
Height information can be queried by selecting points. In this example, the selected point has a height of 86.052m (it’s a good practice to take several samples to check the heights of several nearby points to find a good average).

The height information contained in the 2022 LiDAR data doesn’t replace a survey, but it might still be sufficient for general urban design analysis. These 3D points are far more accurate than height information from same other data sources, such as Google Earth.

West Broadway at Maple, 2022 LiDAR dataset. LiDAR stands for Light Detection And Ranging
There is also a classification for the points which makes it easy to find vegetation and buildings (pictured West Broadway between Maple and Fir Street)

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