NV5 Geospatial, North America’s most comprehensive geospatial data firm, announced it has completed lidar data collection across 5,125 square miles of Eastern Massachusetts. The detailed data – collected as part of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) and now publicly available from Massachusetts Bureau of Geographic Information (MassGIS) – uncovered 1,000 primary addresses and over 10,000 structures previously unidentified by imagery alone, offering insights the Commonwealth can use to support emergency services, property tax assessment and boundary infringement inquiries, and saving time and money required for additional boots-on-the-ground examinations.
The collection also provides useful elevation data to support infrastructure, transportation and utility projects; improve the accuracy and precision of hydrologic network mapping; and classify and manage structures and vegetation. For example, the NV5 lidar collection along the eastern coast of Massachusetts supports use for the National Hydrologic Dataset, which maps the water drainage network of the United States highlighting features such as rivers, streams, canals, lakes, ponds, coastline and dams. NV5 hydro-flattened the digital elevation model (DEM) to identify culverts and pipes, and show the directionality of the water resources.
“This new lidar survey replaces data from about 10 existing ad hoc elevation mapping projects completed over the last 25 years by various public agencies, each with differences in coverage, accuracy and point density,” said Peter Grace, GIS Analyst and 911 Team Lead for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS). “Earlier lidar collections provided important information for specific projects, while our annual imagery surveys gave us a view of the vegetation and structures across the eastern portion of the Commonwealth. Our ability to collect lidar data more consistently and a higher level of mapping detail through 3DEP is delivering value-added findings that can benefit all stakeholders that rely on this type of information.”
NV5, USGS Collaboration Yields New, Valuable Insights
In Spring 2021, the USGS, on behalf of MassGIS, contracted with NV5 Geospatial to acquire the eastern portion of Massachusetts at a QL 1 lidar specification, which is four times more detailed than previous specifications. As part of 3DEP, federal grant funds for the project were provided to a partnership coordinated by MassGIS, between the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS), and the Cape Cod Commission.
“Consistent, highly detailed information about the local geography and structures provide the foundation for so many decisions that city and state leaders, public utilities and private companies have to make on a daily basis – from helping keep power on and preventing flooding, to building new roads and bridges that keep us connected,” said Bob VanderMeer, vice president of Business Development at NV5 Geospatial. "We commend MassGIS for their foresight and expertise in spearheading this project, and the coordination required to bring all of the partners together. Having such detailed data in one place, freely available to anyone who needs it, will benefit all who work and live in the state."
"Our collaboration with the USGS and NV5 enabled us to deliver valuable data that can be applied in numerous ways,” said Neil MacGaffey, retired director of MassGIS, who initially led the project. “This freely available data can help municipalities and state agencies improve infrastructure designs and gain a better understanding of structures in their jurisdiction, make communities more resilient, model stormwater volume and areas at risk from flooding more accurately, and ultimately minimize the spend for all interested parties valuable through economies of scale in data acquisition."
All elevation data is now publicly available on the MassGIS website at no cost and can be used for:
- Engineering-grade derivative analytics using lidar point cloud data and one-foot contours
- Fusion of colorized lidar point cloud data and imagery for true-to-life visualization of the geography
- Identification of vegetation, transportation, utility and hydro features using point cloud data
- Building and ground surface modeling for infrastructure and transportation projects
- Digital elevation modeling (DEM), which provides the cornerstone dataset for a variety of geospatial analysis opportunities
- Bare earth modeling using the QL 1 specification for a topographically accurate representation of the terrain
- Shaded relief mapping that captures both natural and built/artificial features to understand elevation variation in the landscape
- Elevation derived hydrography (EDH) to improve the accuracy and precision of hydrologic network mapping
- Vegetation analytics, featuring leaf-on and leaf-off imagery, to support inventorying of trees via classification and measurement of individual trees
- Normalized digital surface modeling (NDSM) to determine the absolute height of objects and surfaces
For more information about the MassGIS project and NV5 3DEP work, contact Drew Meren.
MassGIS is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts's Bureau of Geographic Information, within the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS). Through MassGIS, the Commonwealth has created a comprehensive, statewide database of geospatial information. MassGIS is the state’s one-stop-shop for interactive maps and associated descriptive information. You can view and explore their extensive library of map information using their on-line mapping viewer, MassMapper and other web maps. GIS users can also access data and web services for their software and applications. MassGIS also coordinates GIS activities in state and local government and sets GIS data standards. For more information, visit https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massgis-bureau-of-geographic-information.
NV5 Geospatial is a provider of geospatial services, providing end-to-end solutions and insights to organizations that need geospatial intelligence to mitigate risk, plan for growth, better manage resources and advance scientific understanding. We combine the widest array of advanced remote sensing technologies with proprietary processes, analytics tools, algorithms, and analyses tailored to meet our clients’ needs. For more information visit nv5geospatial.com, join us on LinkedIn, or follow us on Twitter @nv5geospatial.