Monday, June 16, 2014

Open Topography: A Well-Organized and Feature Rich Site

OpenTopography allows users to register, upload, and download high resolution topography data and tools. as well as download it.  It is run by two universities and funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.  Below is an overview video of the website.  It is important to note the social features at play and its goals of democratizing information sharing and discovery.

Finding LIDAR data is easy on OpenTopography.  Simply navigate on a map, click a point for more information on the data set, or zoom in for the full coverage area.  In addition, there is a list of tools available and links to them at:  Click on the screenshots below to take a closer look at using the site.  You can draw a bounding box to select an area of interest.

Finding data is a snap.  Currently, the overwhelming majority of the data is for the continental U.S.
While your data request is being processed, you will receive a nicely formatted report with the associated files and their descriptions. You will also receive an e-mail of the same report with links to your requested files.

Example of a Job Report for data for Washington DC.
Well Organized and Data Ready to Download!
Of course, not only is there free data but but also free tools, like LAStools in QGIS, for looking at your data from OpenTopography.

LIDAR data from OpenTopography visualized in LAStools.  Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii.
Points colored by elevation.  Pressing the space bar allows user to pan, zoom, rotate, etc. with the mouse.