University of Wisconsin–Madison

Basics of LiDAR Data


Date: August 15-16, 2018

Where:  University of Wisconsin-Madison, 380 Science Hall, 550 North Park St., Madison

Itinerary: Day 1 and 2 — 8:30 am to 4:00 pm with a one-hour lunch break.

Primary Instructors: Day 1 — Joel Nelson, Soil and Landscape Analysis Laboratory, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota. Day 2 — Jim Giglierano, Geographic Information Officer, State of Wisconsin.

Registration Fee: $250

This is an introductory workshop familiarizing attendees with the basics of LiDAR data and how to manipulate this data using standard GIS tools. This workshop assumes no former knowledge of LiDAR, but it is not an introductory GIS course. Attendees are expected to already be familiar with basic GIS concepts and methods.

The workshop is 2 days in duration and includes a mixture of lectures and hands-on exercises. The exercises use standard GIS software tools using ArcGIS version 10. All exercises focus on specific Wisconsin case studies. Day 1 of the course focuses on LiDAR basics, while day 2 discusses LAS files and several advanced techniques.

Day 1 Topics:  About raster data; Working with raster data; Elevation data and Digital Elevation Models (DEMs); What is LiDAR; LiDAR classification and accuracy assessment; LiDAR software and hardware; LiDAR representations – LAS files, point clouds, contours, breaklines, TINS, and terrain; LiDAR visualization; Bare earth, vegetative, and structural applications.

Day 2 Topics: Wisconsin LiDAR data; Working with point cloud data; LAS files; Using LASD; Viewsheds, Hydrologic modeling.

Exercises: Raster processing; Visualization; County coordinate reprojections; LiDAR representations; Working with LAS files; Creating raster files from LAS files; Creating a DEM from LAS files; Viewsheds, Hydrologic modeling applications of LiDAR.

Learning objectives: In this workshop, attendees will gain hands-on experience manipulating LiDAR data using industry-standard Esri software. Upon completion of this workshop, attendees will have a broad understanding of: raster data; map algebra and raster data processing; raster data structures; raster DEM characteristics including resolution; LiDAR acquisition and data collection concepts; accuracy and error in the context of LiDAR data; limitations of LiDAR; main LiDAR application domains; bare earth applications of LiDAR; terrain analysis; TINs, breaklines and contours; point clouds and LAS files; viewsheds; and visualization options. Attendees will gain hands-on experience with LAS files, using LASD to display data and create raster files and DEMs. Attendees will also utilize and apply hydrologic modeling tools using data derived from LiDAR. The Wisconsin LiDAR landscape will be described, including data sources and availability, and resources to support LiDAR work. Lecture slides and exercises will be made available to all registrants as part of the workshop cost.


A limited number of $200 registrations are available for students enrolled at any public or private university.  All participants should review our refund policy prior to registering.


For questions on course content, please contact Howard Veregin at (608) 262-6852.