I am working with LiDAR point cloud data of road networks. The goal is to digitize all visible objects like hydrants, streets, sidewalks.

My input data is available in LAS or ASCII format.

My first thought was to use ArcScene and the 3D Analyst to use the points as backdrop data to digitize the features. But I don't have any license yet. See: Displaying LAS Dataset in ArcScene.

I am wondering if there are other software which you can use to digitize point clouds. Many of them can do automatic classification, but that is not what I want. The determining factor is not "free software" here.

I've installed the free Trial of ArcGIS Pro and tested the 3D Editor on my LAS dataset. I was able to draw features within the point cloud. Nonetheless, the usability and performance was pretty bad for a data set with 50,000,000 points. Seems like ArcGIS is not the best tool to draw 3D objects with geographic information.

  • Take a look at LP360, which can run on top of ArcMap, or TerraSolid which runs on top of Microstation. Both require paid licenses.
    – Barbarossa
    Sep 13, 2018 at 13:21
  • 1
    QTModeler is another option
    – Bjorn
    Sep 13, 2018 at 13:46
  • Thank @Barbarossa I will take a deeper look at LP360 as I don't use Microstation.
    – elbarado
    Sep 14, 2018 at 6:47
  • It seems like it would be more prudent, and much easier, to digitize features from an interpolated surface. In this way you are not dealing with the planimetric issues. You could interpolate a surface of return intensity or return heights (represent by a hillshade), to use in digitizing. Otherwise you will have unexpected non-systematic offsets that you will have to figure out corrections for. This is why ellipse corrections are applied to automated tree extraction algorithms that are applied to point clouds. Sep 14, 2018 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


Global Mapper with LiDAR Module has functionalities for custom digitizing over point cloud features.

See below the relevant parts about the LiDAR Module:

Key functionality offered in the LiDAR Module includes:
+ 3D Digitizing or custom feature extraction using the perpendicular profile function.

3D Extraction

The LiDAR Module offers a 3D feature extraction or digitizing tool. Utilizing the perpendicular profiling function, a series of points can be placed in successive profile views resulting in the creation of 3D areas or line features. This provides a way to digitize highly accurate 3D features from LiDAR or terrain data, such as road edge and curb lines, powerlines, and buildings.

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