I am in the process of initiating a project involving laser scanning. The area to be scanned i s approximately 5000 km². We are initially going to use the data to create a solar potential application, but will also be obliged to use the raw data for DGM, Surface modelling, Flood risk assessments and even 3D City modelling.

We could order data with an accuracy of up to 10 points p/m². But usually for solar potential analysis not more than than 2 points p/m² is required. Having a more accurate data set sounds great, but I am also worried that my hardware won´t be able to handle these amounts of data.

I have recently created a DGM for the 5000km² with a point concentration of 1 point for 12m, and this was quite time consuming.

Has anyone had any experience working with similar data sets? what kind of hardware is able to handle these amounts of data? I have a new windows 7 machine with 12 cores and 8gb Ram...but is this enough?

2 Answers 2


2 points per meter is plenty for what you want to do.

I assume the company that is flying the LiDAR is going to develop your solar analysis, digital surface models, etc...? If not, how are you going to do this?

What software are you using? Your computer is plenty powerful, but if you are using incorrect workflows/software it can slow down the processing, or make it impossible.

Comment: Yeah. You need to work with the LiDAR data directly from the .las files. these are classified (if the company classified them). http://www.asprs.org/a/society/committees/standards/asprs_las_format_v20.pdf

If you have some extra money, you might want to check out las tools. It is really simple to use, and very efficient. You can manipulate the lidar data in there and then kick out a DEM or points and move it into arcgis for analysis or visualization.

I have one more question but I would like to ask you privately, how can I reach you?

  • Hi. The solar potential model will be developed by the company, true. But any future analysis will have to be done my myself. I have ArcGIS + 3D Analyst /Spatial Analyst, as well as Grass/SAGA GIS. I have up until now only created DEMs from ASCII data by importing point data-> SHP -> interpolation to raster. If you have any workflows or methods which could help, I would be very interested in hearing from you. Thanks Robert Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 12:45
  • See above I edited my response.
    – Thad
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 12:53
  • robertdbuckley_at_yahoo_dot_com Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 13:07
  • A recent blurb from ESRI says that 10.2 will read .las files directly, so that might simplify your workflow.
    – Llaves
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 22:14
  • @Llaves 10.1 reads LAS directly
    – MLowry
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 14:37

If you are looking at solar potential, I assume that the classification of buildings will come up. This is a specialty class (more than the typical bare-earth type classifications) and may require a bit more specification on the statement of work. I think you should, as mentioned above, look in LAS Tools - and use points. Your work may require more of a digital surface model approach than the typical bare earth model, although sounds like you want to do multiple things - which is fine, but you should be prepared to pay more $ or make compromises. Sounds like a fun project - enjoy Keil

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