World Class Speakers Attract Record Visitors to LiDAR Mapping Forum
The third ELMF held in Salzburg, Austria from 4-5th December 2012, has been hailed as the most successful yet with its focus on the use of LIDAR to support transport, urban modelling, coastal zone mapping, asset management, 3D visualisation and GIS applications.
Held at the prestigious Salzburg Congress, 447 delegates from 45 countries gathered for ELMF with captivating presentations delivered by the world’s leading LIDAR experts. Delegates were also able to visit ELMF’s largest exhibition yet, with more than 50 top global hardware/software manufacturers and service providers, live demonstrations and a selection of mobile mapping vehicles operating in real time as they went about the city of Salzburg capturing map data.
The conference plenary session was opened by Chairman, Alastair MacDonald of TMS International who noted that the industry is in common with the wider economies of Europe experiencing a challenging time. However this is simultaneously driving new technologies and applications which are about to significantly change the market by enabling faster, better and cheaper deliverables to end users. In particular the market drivers are now leading on-the-fly processing of captured LIDAR and imagery data and then its fast transformation into accessible and manageable visualisation systems.
The conference enjoyed a thought-provoking keynote from Lawrie Jordan, Director of Imagery at ESRI, world leaders in GIS platform technology. Mr Jordan outlined a stimulating vision of how remotely sensed data can be transformed through GIS into intelligent 3D images for use in the cloud or in augmented or virtual reality.
In the open debate session, a panel of distinguished representatives from the LIDAR technology and services community gave their views on two industry technology issues. Firstly, the panel considered whether too much data was being provided unnecessarily to the end users, and secondly whether the industry was investing sufficiently to meet end user demands to manipulate and manage data themselves.
The technical conference was considered by all to be the most successful yet with 35 stimulating and informative papers. Topics were broad and included first announcements of cutting edge new sensors such as Swedish company Airborne Hydrography’s new Chiroptera bathymetric LIDAR scanner which pushes the frontier of clear water penetration down to 20 meters. Fugro Pelagos’ new techniques for underwater mapping vegetation types also illustrated an innovative way of monitoring marine health.
Ken Bragg from Safe Software, Canada, illustrated how LIDAR data can add a valuable 3D dimension to GIS data. He also advocated open source tools to read and write compressed format data. This was a theme picked up by LAStools’ Martin Isenberg, the internationally known expert in data compression, who announced the arrival of new capabilities to store the full LIDAR waveform data. Francesco Pirotti of University of Padua, Italy described the potential of pre-processing waveform data to extract 3D representations of the return pulse intensity as well as of derived metrics.
Resolution and accuracy remain key issues as data processing techniques become ever more refined. Professor Bob Pack of Utah University described a process being trialled whereby a pre-calibration 10cm resolution was improved to 1.2cm after application of a series of calibration/adjustment steps which also led to an improvement in the point cloud accuracy. Robert Marschallinger of Salzburg University explained how to convert LIDAR point clouds into solid models for quantifying volume in a unique open mining drilling program. Gerald Forkert of Austria’s UVM Systems focused on how the use of LIDAR data in 3D simulation assists new planning proposals for local communities. Interestingly, Alexander Wiechert of Microsoft Vexcel, delivered a challenging paper on digital imaging as an alternative to LIDAR for generating point clouds.
The papers on recent projects were truly diverse: mapping in HD the world’s first iron bridge; using LIDAR measurements to improve road safety; flying the latest unmanned aerial vehicles as sensor platforms; mapping missions in Africa and the frustrating challenges of continuously delayed government permissions for flying missions. Each speaker described the practice and results and, importantly for the delegates, the lessons learned.
ELMF’s workshops for training and career development were in high demand delivering rewarding updates on a wide range of specialist topics. Two presentations were of particular note: Italy’s Gexcel illustrated how very large point clouds can be synchronised with HD video; and Lewis Graham of US GeoCue delivered a visionary exposition of how semi-global matching techniques [SGM] are becoming increasingly popular to create 3D data, and how the differences in SGM and LIDAR data causes processing tools to behave in unexpected modes. Dr Graham Hunter of the UK’s 3D Laser Mapping led a workshop devoted to urban mobile mapping and the latest developments for indoor mobile mapping.
ELMF’s Conference Director, Versha Carter, commented, “We are thrilled by the success of this year’s ELMF. Our speakers delivered outstanding papers, with a wealth of subjects and information for all. The venue at Salzburg once again attracted global interest and provided an extra special dimension socially with its seasonal events. We are delighted by delegates’ positive feedback.”
The US series of the same conference, the International LiDAR Mapping Forum, is taking place on February 11-13 2013 in Denver, USA.