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2011 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Topographic Lidar: Massachusetts and Rhode Island

browse graphicThis kmz file shows the extent of coverage for the 2011 FEMA Massachusetts and Rhode Island lidar data set.
This data set is a combination of 3 seperate FEMA collections (Blackstone, Charles-Quincy and Narragansett) with similar specifications. See the Ground Control process step for further information on functional areas. Ground Control is collected throughout the AOI for use in the processing of LiDAR data to ensure data accurately represents the ground surface. QA/QC checkpoints, (FVA and CVA - see Ground Control process step for further information) also collected throughout the AOI, are used for independent quality checks of the processed LiDAR data. LiDAR acquisition products include Pre- and Post- flight reports which contain information on the flightlines, equipment parameters, and other pertinant acquisition details. The LiDAR product itself consists of tiles of LAS points which are partially classified such that the bare earth points can be calibrated to the ground surface and tested via the independent QC to ensure the ground surface is accurately represented.
Cite this dataset when used as a source.
Online Access
  • Online access is not available for this resource
Distribution Formats
  • LAZ
Distributor DOC/NOAA/NOS/OCM > Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
Associated Resources
  • Lidar Final Report
  • publication: 2013-09-01
Data Presentation Form: Digital image
Dataset Progress Status Complete
Data Update Frequency: As needed
Purpose: Provide high resolution terrain elevation and land cover elevation data. Terrain data is used to represent the topography of a watershed and/or floodplain environment and to extract useful information for hydraulic and hydrologic models.
Use Limitations
  • These data depict the elevations at the time of the survey and are only accurate for that time. Users should be aware that temporal changes may have occurred since this data set was collected and some parts of this data may no longer represent actual surface conditions. Users should not use this data for critical applications without a full awareness of its limitations. Any conclusions drawn from analysis of this information are not the responsibility of NOAA or any of its partners. These data are NOT to be used for navigational purposes.
  • DOC/NOAA/NOS/OCM > Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • DHS/FEMA > Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Strategic Alliance for Risk Reduction (STARR)
  • DOC/NOAA/NOS/OCM > Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
Time Period: 2010-12-02 to 2010-12-17
Spatial Reference System: urn:ogc:def:crs:EPSG::4269 Ellipsoid in Meters
Spatial Bounding Box Coordinates:
N: 42.457842
S: 41.754609
E: -70.907919
W: -71.933732
Spatial Coverage Map:
Theme keywords
  • Topography/Bathymetry
  • Land Surface
  • Elevation Data
  • LAS
Place keywords
  • US
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Worchester County
  • Middlesex County
  • Suffolk County
  • Norfolk County
  • Bristol County
Use Constraints No constraint information available
Fees Fee information not available.
Lineage information for: dataset
  • DOC/NOAA/NOS/OCM > Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • DOC/NOAA/NESDIS/NCEI > National Centers of Environmental Information, NESDIS, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce
Processing Steps
  • 2011-01-01T00:00:00 - GPS based surveys were utilized to support both processing and testing of LiDAR data within FEMA designated Areas of Interest (AOIs). Geographically distinct ground points were surveyed using GPS technology throughout the AOIs to provide support for three distinct tasks. Task 1 was to provide Vertical Ground Control to support the aerial acquisition and subsequent bare earth model processing. To accomplish this, survey-grade Trimble R-8 GPS receivers were used to collect a series of control points located on open areas, free of excessive or significant slope, and at least 5 meters away from any significant terrain break. Most if not all control points were collected at street/road intersections on bare level pavement. Task 2 was to collect Fundamental Vertical Accuracy (FVA) checkpoints to evaluate the initial quality of the collected point cloud and to ensure that the collected data was satisfactory for further processing to meet FEMA specifications. The FVA points were collected in identical fashion to the Vertical Ground Control Points, but segregated from the point pool to ensure independent quality testing without prior knowledge of FVA locations by the aerial vendor. Task 3 was to collect Consolidated Vertical Accuracy CVA) checkpoints to allow vertical testing of the bare-earth processed LiDAR data in different classes of land cover, including: Open (pavement, open dirt, short grass), High Grass and Crops, Brush and Low Trees, Forest, Urban. CVA points were collected in similar fashion as Control and FVA points with emphasis on establishing point locations within the predominant land cover classes within each AOI or Functional AOI Group. In order to successfully collect the Forest land cover class, it was necessary to establish a Backsight and Initial Point with the R8 receiver, and then employ a Nikon Total Station to observe a retroreflective prism stationed under tree canopy. This was necessary due to the reduced GPS performance and degradation of signal under tree canopy. The R-8 receivers were equipped with cellular modems to receive real-time correction signals from the Keystone Precision Virtual Reference Station (VRS) network encompassing the Region 1 AOIs. Use of the VRS network allowed rapid collection times (~3 minutes/point) at 2.54 cm (1 inch) initial accuracy. All points collected were below the 8cm specification for testing 24cm, Highest category LiDAR data. To ensure valid in-field collections, an NGS monument with suitable vertical reporting was measured using the same equipment and procedures used for Control, FVA and CVA points on a daily basis. The measurement was compared to the NGS published values to ensure that the GPS collection schema was producing valid data and as a physical proof point of quality of collection. Those monument measurements are summarized in the Accuracy report included in the data delivered to FEMA. In order to meet FEMA budgetary requirements, AOIs were consolidated into Functional Groups: if AOIs were contiguous, they were treated as one large AOI to allow collection of 20 FVA points and 15 additional CVA points across the group of AOIs. 20 FVA points are necessary to allow testing to CE95 ? 1 point out of 20 may fail vertical testing and still allow the entire dataset to meet 95% accuracy requirements. In similar fashion, 20 CVA points are necessary to test to CE95 as discussed above. 15 CVA points were collected per AOI or per Functional Group with the intention at the outset that 5 of the collected FVAs would perform double ?duty as Open-class CVA points, to total 20 CVAs per AOI or Functional Group. The Functional Groups are as follows: Narragansett/Charles/Blackstone(northeast), Nashua, Blackstone(north and west), Quinnipiac, Quincy/Suffolk (while included as part of the FEMA Charles AOI, was physically separated from the Charles AOI polygon and treated as an independent functional area). The following software packages and utilities were used to control the GPS receiver in the field during data collection, and then ingest and export the collected GPS data for all points: Trimble Survey Controller, Trimble Pathfinder Office. The following software utilities were used to translate the collected Latitude/Longitude Decimal Degree HAE GPS data for all points into Latitude/Longitude Degrees/Minutes/Seconds for checking the collected monument data against the published NGS Datasheet Lat/Long DMS values and into UTM NAD83 Northings/Eastings: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers CorpsCon, National Geodetic Survey Geoid09NAVD88. MSL values were determined using the most recent NGS-approved geoid model to generate geoid separation values for each Lat/Long coordinate pair. In this fashion, Orthometric heights were determined for each Control, FVA and CVA point by subtracting the generated Geoid Separation value from the Ellipsoidal Height (HAE) for publication and use as MSL NAVD88(09).
  • 2011-01-01T00:00:00 - Applanix software was used in the post processing of the airborne GPS and inertial data that is critical to the positioning and orientation of the sensor during all flights. POSPac MMS provides the smoothed best estimate of trajectory (SBET) that is necessary for Optech's post processor to develop the point cloud from the LiDAR missions. The point cloud is the mathematical three dimensional collection of all returns from all laser pulses as determined from the aerial mission. Optech?s DASHMap software and Leica?s ALS Post Processor software were used to create the Raw LIDAR Flight Line strips. At this point this data is ready for analysis, classification, and filtering to generate a bare earth surface model in which the above ground features are removed from the data set. The GeoCue and TerraScan software packages are then used for the automated data classification. Project specific macros are created to classify the ground and to remove the side overlap between parallel flight lines. LAS Class 2 (Ground) is used to check the surveyed control points against the Triangulated LIDAR surface. Any bias is then removed using macro functionality within TerraScan. Unclassified Point Cloud tiles are then created using TerraScan macro functionality. These tiles are populated within GeoCue to ensure correct LAS versioning and LAS Header information. LAS Class 2 is used to check the independent QC points against the Triangulated LiDAR surface. If RMSE is not within guidelines TerraScan software is utilitzed to remove any bias, and the check is performed again.
  • 2013-09-01T00:00:00 - The NOAA Coastal Services Center (CSC) received the topographic files in LAS V1.2 format. The files contained lidar elevation measurements, classifications, intensity data, return information, GPS time and scan angle. The data were received in NAD83 UTM Zone 19N and were vertically referenced to NAVD88 using the Geoid09 model. The vertical units of the data were meters. CSC performed the following processing for data storage and Digital Coast provisioning purposes: 1. All Class 11 points were changed to Class 12 (Overlap) 2. The topographic las files' global encoding bit was set to '1' to reflect the use of Adjusted Standard GPS Time. 3. The topographic las files were converted from a Projected Coordinate System (UTM19N) to Geographic coordinates (NAD83). 4. The topographic las files' horizontal units were converted from meters to decimal degrees. 5. The topographic las files were converted from orthometric (NAVD88) heights to ellipsoidal heights using Geoid09. 6. The data were converted to LAZ format.
  • 2013-10-17T00:00:00 - The NOAA National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) received lidar data files via ftp transfer from the NOAA Coastal Services Center. The data are currently being served via NOAA CSC Digital Coast at The data can be used to re-populate the system. The data are archived in LAS or LAZ format. The LAS format is an industry standard for LiDAR data developed by the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS); LAZ is a loseless compressed version of LAS developed by Martin Isenburg ( The data are exclusively in geographic coordinates (either NAD83 or ITRF94). The data are referenced vertically to the ellipsoid (either GRS80 or ITRF94), allowing for the ability to apply the most up to date geoid model when transforming to orthometric heights.
Last Modified: 2013-10-17
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