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NYU releases densest LiDAR dataset of Dublin

Data covers not only the horizontal surfaces of the built environment but also provides dense vertical data including building facade capture

The technology will pioneer
The technology will pioneer

New York University has published the densest urban aerial laser scanning (LiDAR) dataset ever collected. Undertaken by Dr. Debra Laefer, a professor at the university’s Centre for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), the dataset of a 1.5km2 area of Dublin’s city centre, is 30 times denser than typical LiDAR data at more than 300 points per square metre.


The dataset also includes the first ever urban scan with the fullwave form version of the data, as well as affiliated imagery and video. The unprecedented comprehensiveness of this multi-layered dataset enables new opportunities in exploration and modelling, said CUSP. It also sets a new standard for what can be collected and used by cities around the world.


The data covers not only the horizontal surfaces of the built environment, as seen in traditional LiDAR projects (roofs and roads), but also provides dense vertical data including exceptional building facade capture. This allows the creation of richly elaborated 3D models of the urban environment that accurately represent building geometry, curb height, vegetation, and utility lines.


The work builds on a previously publicly released dataset (aerial laser scanning and imagery) and more than a decade of research. Permission is being sought to acquire similar data for New York City.


Dr. Laefer, professor of urban informatics at NYU CUSP, completed the project as part of her European Research Council (ERC) $1.7m research grant, Rethinking Tunnelling in Urban Neighbourhoods. She led a research team from University College Dublin.


“A city-scale dataset of this level can be applied to many projects to improve services,” said Laefer. “This extraordinary level of data quality, combined with open access through NYU’s Spatial Data Repository, will help pioneer new possibilities for visualisation and analyses by urban engineers, civic agencies, and entrepreneurs trying to identify and ultimately solve urban challenges of all kinds.”


This dataset can be used in many forms to improve city services such as mobility impaired route assessment, 3D digital tourism, built environment change detection, and comprehensive urban documentation for civic records. The data is also directly applicable for a variety of engineering analyses including building energy modeling, pedestrian wind analysis, disaster planning, and infectious disease tracking.


“NYU Libraries’ accession of aerial laser scanning and photogrammetry data produced by Professor Laefer’s research team is a major addition to our geospatial data holdings,” added Andrew Battista, a professor of Public Service at NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Librarian for Geospatial Information Systems at New York University.


“This collection marks the first time that spatial data associated with a major, grant-funded project has been submitted to our repository. We are confident that this dataset will be invaluable to a larger community of urban studies scholarship, and we anticipate expanding our collections as professor Laefer’s research evolves.”


Laefer was the founder and former head of the University College Dublin’s urban modelling group in Dublin, Ireland. There, she led the development of the ERC project’s innovations across the data pipeline from flightpath planning and optimisation to final processing for numerical modelling.



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