3dep lidar nsgic gis geospatial

3DEP for the Nation addresses the need for high-quality topographic data and three-dimensional representations of the nation’s natural and constructed features. The program is a collaboration with the USGS National Map 3D Elevation Program and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) 3DEP Working Group. The 3DEP program was created based on the results of the 2010-2012 National Enhanced Elevation Assessment (NEEA) study.

NSGIC’s 3DEP for the Nation project supports the systematic collection of Quality Level 2 or better light detection and ranging (lidar) data over the conterminous United States, Hawaii and U.S. territories. Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (IfSAR) data is collected over Alaska, where cloud cover and remote locations preclude the use of lidar over much of the state.


3DEP coverage across the U.S. can most effectively be achieved by establishing plans for each individual state and territory. NSGIC is uniquely positioned to coordinate the development of 3DEP plans for the states through our strong working relationships with state geospatial information officers and coordinators.

Using our existing network, NSGIC can work with each state and territory and their stakeholders to document collaborative roles, responsibilities, and timeframes for completing 3DEP coverage. As part of this project and NSGIC’s partnership with USGS, states are doing more to explore opportunities through the annual USGS Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the 3DEP program using acquisitions planned through the USGS Geospatial Products and Services Contracts, as well as acquisitions planned and managed by state/local partners through a cooperative agreement with USGS. NSGIC is also working with the Association of American State Geologists to engage state geologists as vital members of the 3DEP stakeholder community.

What’s the Plan?

Initially, 3DEP for the Nation is focusing on the development of a statewide lidar acquisition planning guide. The guide will outline critical components of a statewide plan and include best practices for addressing each component.

The guide will also incorporate the work underway as part of the USGS- and NOAA-sponsored 3D Nation Elevation Requirements and Benefits Study to establish states’ requirements and benefits of the wide range of mission-critical needs dependent upon accurate 3D elevation data.

A beta version of the guide will be piloted by eight states, which will provide input for the guide’s further development.

What’s Happening?

In the first half of 2018, the NSGIC project team established a steering group of NSGIC members, convened several sessions at its Midyear Meeting to gather input about state lidar planning efforts and interests, and participated in a major meeting of the 3DEP Working Group (an FGDC subcommittee). The ideas and issues raised at these meetings serve as the basis for the development of the pilot planning guide.

In June 2018, eight states were selected to participate in the pilot program. Pilot states represent a range in landscape character, ways lidar data will be used, level of current 3DEP coordination, and the status of state lidar acquisitions and funding. Participants are expected to initiate or enhance a lidar acquisition plan utilizing the planning guide and provide regular feedback on the guide’s efficacy.


3DEP: By the States, For the Nation Webinar

State by state, NSGIC is coordinating with regional, federal, and industry partners to build 3DEP for the Nation. While the degree of program development varies by state, advances are made daily. In this webinar, you will learn about innovations in both establishing and maintaining statewide 3DEP programs.


Learn More and Get Involved

  • Participate in the 3DEP Discussion Forum

  • Join the 3DEP e-list

    • Login*, then navigate: My NSGIC -> Features -> E-lists -> 3DEP

    • Toggle the Subscribed and Email Delivery buttons to “on”

*If you are not a NSGIC member, you can register for a Limited Access Account. This is required to join the e-list and participate in discussion forums.

Project Team