LiDAR 101

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) – LiDAR is an active sensory system that uses laser light, an inertial measurement unit (IMU), and Global Positioning System (GPS) to rapidly measure distances between the sensor and points on the ground. This creates dense, highly accurate elevation data. Using GPS calibration sites within LiDAR collection grids that verify the GPS to provide "Ground Truth" for LiDAR data analysis. LiDAR analysis is a growing need in the GIS community and CompassData is at the forefront of this field. CompassData establishes and manages multi-use GPS calibration sites for digital sensors and LiDAR, working with clients such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).


We offer a variety of services to our clients including

Flight Planning


Post Processing



UAS LiDAR Photogrammetry Remote Sensing

Our LiDAR Solutions

Our LiDAR solutions are cost-effective and cover a large Area of Interest (AOI) in less time, and easily collect LiDAR, digital ortho-imagery, and stereo imagery in one flight mission. We can build an accurate elevation model and the data is compiled and processed into detailed bare earth models. Imagery derived from LiDAR can be processed into digital elevation models (DEM), digital surface models (DSM), digital terrain models (DTM), and topographic maps. We can get extremely high-density points per square meter (50-100 ppsm), which can build accurate models of the earth.


We examine our client's goals and analyze the AOI, making crucial decisions whether a drone or an aircraft is needed for the scope of the project. Before we fly, CompassData goes through a rigorous checklist to ensure safety, reliability, and efficiency of our pilots and field crew. Once the details of the project are finalized, ground control targets are set and surveyed according to procedures aligned with ASPRS standards to ensure our products meet all accuracy requirements desired by our customers.
Image of Lidar diagram showing how the process of how lidar captures point cloud density to create 3d models of the earth


CompassData’s team includes post-processing professionals who have the expertise to ensure Quality Control/Quality Assurance for LiDAR deliverables. Postprocessing from CompassData includes all relevant LiDAR attributes: classification, intensity, return information, GPS timestamp, flight line information, etc. We have the expertise to post-process any LiDAR to professional standards.

Quality Assurance / Quality Control

CompassData offers calibration capability for LiDAR data, with leading software tools, prior to using crucial Quality Control procedures for testing and reporting both, absolute positional accuracy as well as the relative accuracy among all datapoints. While independently derived Ground Control Points are a crucial component for LiDAR quality, calibration can be a complicated procedure. We can provide the GCPs for your in-house calibration, or we can do Quality Control for you, using our proprietary GCPs and a least-squares minimization technique designed to ensure the best calibration quality. Our QA/QC quantitative check ensures vertical accuracy, horizontal accuracy, clustering of points, and nominal posting. We will meet ASPRS standards for collection.


We offer several different formats for delivery to our customers (LAS, ESRI, ACSII and CADD).

  • Digital Elevation Models (DEM)
  • Digital Surface Models (DSM)
  • Digital Terrain Models (DTM)
  • 3D Elevation Contour Lines
  • Topological Maps
  • Analysis of Vegetation/Hydrography/Permeable Surfaces/Erosion
  • 3D Models
Contact us for strategic flight planning, utilizing our GCP archive, our target control for new GCPs and imagery post processing. We got you covered.


To arrange a consultation or workshop, send us a message.