Available with 3D Analyst license.
Several factors should be considered prior to building a LAS dataset. The following is a list of best practices and recommendations for LAS datasets.
Types of lidar data supported
- Support for LAS datasets in ArcMap and geoprocessing is intended primarily for airborne lidar.
- Use either terrestrial or airborne lidar in ArcScene for a 3D experience.
- Airborne lidar will be more useful if the data has been classified(for example, ground versus nonground).
- ArcGIS supports all LAS versions.
- The classification codes detailed in ArcGIS are based on LAS version 1.1 or greater. Consider using the Change LAS Class Codes geoprocessing tool to update classification codes residing in the LAS files of outdated LAS versions. The tool can be used to ensure that such data conforms to the current standards.
Dimensions and size of LAS files
- For best performance, the client machine should have direct access to data on a local internal drive, not across network or slower external drives.
- Consider optimized LAS files (.zlas) when using lidar over a network. For more information, see Optimized LAS.
- Build a LAS dataset using LAS files from the same project (that is, specifications and study area). LAS datasets are not meant to compile data from disparate sources and study areas. For that purpose, use mosaic dataset.
- Generally, it is beneficial for a LAS dataset to be constructed with LAS files that are tiled. The LAS files should not contain lidar data in large strips or flight lines unless the LAS files have been indexed and contain a LAS auxiliary file (.lasx) for each LAS file.
- Calculate statistics to provide the LAS dataset auxiliary files (.lasx). These auxiliary files contain a statistical analysis and spatial index calculated for each LAS file. The spatial index improves the overall performance of a LAS dataset.
- Generally, it is a good idea to keep LAS file sizes around 500 MB when LAS auxiliary files (.lasx) are created. However, there are many situations where LAS files are much larger, and the spatial index in the LAS auxiliary files allows ArcGIS to better handle these very large LAS files. A size limit becomes less significant in ArcGIS if there is a spatial index present. The size recommendations are for practical data management issues of larger file sizes, for example, file/disk fragmentation.
- Consider rearranging the LAS points using the Extract LAS geoprocessing tool. Doing so will order the point records into spatial clusters that are optimized for reading the files and will dramatically enhance their display performance throughout the ArcGIS platform.
- For best performance, when statistics are not calculated, the LAS tiles should be contiguous, not overlapping, and roughly 500 MB or less in size.
Several considerations exist when working with LAS files and spatial reference in ArcGIS. The LAS specification requires that spatial reference information always be included in the header information of all LAS files. ArcGIS will read and use the spatial reference information if one exists in the LAS files.
ArcGIS assigns the spatial reference found in one of the LAS files added to a LAS dataset as the spatial reference for the dataset. If no spatial reference information is found in any of the participating LAS files, the spatial reference for the dataset will remain Unknown.
Having a spatial reference defined in the LAS dataset does not necessarily indicate that all the LAS files participating in the LAS dataset have that spatial reference. They may be in a different project or have no projection defined; both of these situations are common and result in poor quality.
Unfortunately, it is very common to obtain LAS files without spatial reference information. The following discussion describes best practices on how to apply a spatial reference to the LAS files referenced by the LAS dataset in ArcGIS.
If your LAS files have either missing or incorrect spatial reference, you can
- Create a projection file (.prj) file for each LAS file to define the spatial reference for each LAS file using the Create LAS Dataset tool.
- Rewrite the LAS files to contain the proper spatial reference information using the Extract LAS tool.
It is important for subsequent analysis and visualization in ArcGIS that the spatial reference information is known for each LAS file. Without a spatial reference, certain functions and workflows may not work as expected in ArcGIS. While on-the-fly projection of LAS data is not encouraged (for performance reasons), the spatial reference must be defined for each LAS file for it to work. Defining the spatial reference at the LAS dataset level alone is not enough. If your LAS data is not being displayed, chances are the map is in a different projection than the LAS data and the spatial reference for the LAS files is not defined properly.