In 2010, ArcGIS Ideas user eatkinson posted an idea to enhance ArcGIS with the Ability to
view and edit LIDAR (*.las) files directly. Within a few months, this idea became one of the most popular ideas on the site. In June 2011, the Esri 3D Product Manager posted a comment with the good news, informing the community that ArcGIS 10.1 will include native support for lidar data and more. User eatkinson asked for viewing and editing capabilities, but we went a little further and added functionality to use lidar data in analyses and publish as image services. In previous releases, lidar data in LAS format needed to be converted to points and then, if necessary, to a raster dataset, TIN or Terrain. At ArcGIS 10.1, lidar data available in a LAS file can be managed, viewed, updated, and shared, all while remaining in its native format. There are two container objects that allow you to collect multiple LAS files and treat them as a single data unit—the mosaic dataset and the LAS dataset. In a mosaic dataset, you can add LAS files directly. The LAS dataset data model is new in ArcGIS 10.1. It provides vector-based access to LAS files. You can interact with a collection of LAS files either as individual points, or as a TIN-based surface. LAS datasets will allow you to:
- Do analyses.
- View lidar points and surfaces in 3D.
- Edit LAS files.
- Publish as image services.
Please watch the video, "Native Support for Lidar," in which Esri’s Nathan Shephard introduces new lidar visualization, analysis, and dissemination capabilities that are a core component of ArcGIS 10.1.
To learn more about lidar support at ArcGIS 10.1, visit this online help documentation: Learn about lidar support in ArcGIS.