Terrestrial LiDAR Knowledge Exchange Network, LiDAR: net


  A terrestrial LiDAR system. Image courtesy of Dr Nicholas Tate.

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology offers a survey method that is both fast and accurate for the production of detailed 3D computer models.  These can range in scale from the road surface to an entire city.  Deployed in both airborne and terrestrial (ground-based) forms, terrestrial LiDAR technology can be seen as a particularly versatile non-intrusive survey method which offers the promise of real-time data acquisition in a variety of research and industrial application contexts including:

  • environmental monitoring;
  • 3D modelling of both natural and built environments;
  • cultural heritage mapping and monitoring;
  • construction and mineral extraction;
  • transport; and 
  • security.

The Office of Science and Innovation identified LiDAR technology within one of eight key clusters of emerging science and technology with "the potential to...transform the delivery of public services, challenge society and/or affect wealth creation" (OSI, 2006).

Industry analyst Martin Flood (2001) concluded that "a strong co-operative relationship between the commercial sector and research organizations will be important to furthering the adoption of the technology." This theme aims to respond to that need. 

Proposed Activities

 A network / community of practice drawn from both academia and industry will be formed to act as a basis for future collaboration towards research grant proposals and specifically for the development of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) in terrestrial LiDAR, and to link to and augment existing knowledge exchange activities of organisations such as the NERC-sponsored Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation.

Collaboration in the network / community would be kicked off by an initial specialist meeting drawing together a group of experts in terrestrial LiDAR from the UK and beyond to scope the current and future trends/issues in the development of the technology and applications.

At least one and possible two follow-up workshops will be held highlighting specific technological developments (for example full waveform terrestrial LiDAR systems) and applications which could be held in conjunction with working / special interest groups of specific organisations (for example, the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society's (RSPSoc) LiDAR Special Interest Group (SIG), International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS)'s Working Group of Commission V - Close Range Sensing: Analysis and Applications) and lead to publications in an international journal.

Specific deliverables

These include:

  • A network/community of practice comprising those interested parties drawn from academia, industry and NERC to be kicked-off by a specialist meeting and supported by an on-line wiki.
  • Dedicated workshops on technical developments and/or applications of terrestrial LiDAR open to a wide variety of stakeholders within the UK.
  • A scoping report from the specialist meeting to input into both the technical Earth Observation development and the NERC Technologies programme and peer-reviewed journal special issues from at least one of the two workshops.


For more information, contact the Theme Leader, Dr. Nicholas Tate

Senior Lecturer in Geographic Information, University of Leicester
Telephone: +44(0)116 223 1320
Fax: +44 (0)116 252 3854
Email: njt9@le.ac.uk

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I arrived at Leicester in January 1999, prior to which I was a lecturer in the School of Geography, Queen's University, Belfast (1994-1998), a NERC-funded PhD student at the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia (1991-1994; PhD defended 1995) and a undergraduate student in the Department of Geography, Durham University (1983-1986; First Class Honours awarded 1986; Robin Mills Prize, 1986).

My primary research interests are in the statistical modelling of topographic surfaces with emphasis on characterisation and spatial scaling. Recent research in this context has been concerned with the application of wavelet methods, error modelling as well as the use of airborne and terrestrial LiDAR for surface generation. Recently funded projects include the £0.6million NERC funded gravel bed LiDAR scanning and surface characterisation project.

Secondary interests have focused on a variety of application areas including the modelling of population surfaces (initially funded by ESRC), the application of GIS to palaeoenvironments, philosophic and pedagogic research related to GIS. A selection of recent representative publications is listed below. In addition I have also co-edited two research books: Advances in Remote Sensing and GIS Analysis (1999), and Modelling Scale in Geographical Information Science (2001) both with Peter Atkinson, and written a research methods textbook Conducting Research in Human Geography (2000) with Rob Kitchin.

Between 2005 and 2010, I was Director of the successful £4.1million SPLINT (Spatial Literacy IN Teaching) Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) in the context of GIS and geospatial technologies. I am the current Director of the Leicester LiDAR Research Unit , and have in the past been the Director of various MSc programmes.

Earth Observation Technology Cluster

Email: eotechcluster@nottingham.ac.uk