The LiDAR processing tools from rapidlasso GmbH are widely known for their high productivity. They combine robust algorithm design with efficient I/O and clever memory management to achieve high throughput for data sets containing billions of points. The company’s flagship product, the LAStools software suite, already has deep market penetration and is used in commercial sectors, government agencies, research labs, and educational institutions throughout the world. LAStools are a collection of highly efficient, batch-scriptable, multi-core command-line modules that can classify, filter, convert, quality check, tile, raster, triangulate, contour, clip, polygonize, etc. … LiDAR point clouds. Each tool also has a GUI and is available inside a LiDAR processing toolbox for ESRI’s ArcGIS versions 9.3, 10.0, and 10.1. See http://lastools.org for more details.
Meanwhile, rapidlasso’s open-source compressor – LASzip – has become an industry standard for compressed LiDAR. LASzip has won the 2012 Geospatial World Forum Technology Innovation Award in Amsterdam earlier this year and is nominated as one of the ten best products competing for the 2012 Wichmann Innovation Award at INTERGEO. The compressed LAZ format produced by LASzip has native read and write support in several major software packages such as QT Modeler, TopoDOT, Global Mapper, FME 2012, RiProcess, Pointools (upcoming) and others will be adding support soon.
As an enabling technology the “free” LASzip compressor provides relief for many data-heavy workflows. For example, the Minnesota Department for Natural Resources provides free access to the LiDAR of more than 60 counties in the LAZ format and continuously adds more. the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers LAZ as a download option for LiDAR from their servers, and the entire LiDAR inventory of the National Survey of Finland that was published as part of the new “open data” policy is available exclusively in the LAZ format. On a county, a state, or a national scale – using compressed LAZ instead of standard LAS means savings on the order of Terabytes or even Petabytes – data that no longer needs to be hosted, backed-up, and served for download. See http://laszip.org for more details.