Laser Scanning is a survey tool for collecting vast amounts of accurate spatial data within a short amount of time. In essence, these scanners collect millions of individual point measurements within minutes. The measurements are then plotted within a single XYZ coordinate system to form a 'point cloud' of the object’s external surface. With the addition of GPS data, these points can be geo-referenced and transformed into a global reference system. Multiple data clouds collected from different viewpoints can also be combined (“registered”) using common features in order to create one 3D dataset. For example a building could be scanned to include all external walls and then registered together to include scan data from inside the building.
The resulting 3D data can be used for visualization, modelling and planning in 3D e.g. Building Information Modelling, geomorphological change and heritage projects. Additionally the point cloud data can be exploited in order to take any number of measurements without having to physically take each measurement on site. Furthermore, point cloud data can form the basis of a rich dataset containing more than purely spatial information (XYZ). For example intensity or photographic imagery could be applied to create a coloured point cloud and 3D vector data can be over laid to map pipes and cables.