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3D Elevation Program (3DEP)

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Introduction and Goals

LiDAR is used to detect potential obstacles that present hazards to air navigation.
Lidar is used to detect potential obstacles that present hazards to air navigation.

The 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) initiative is being developed to respond to growing needs for high-quality topographic data and for a wide range of other three-dimensional representations of the Nation's natural and constructed features. The primary goal of 3DEP is to systematically collect enhanced elevation data in the form of high-quality light detection and ranging (lidar) data over the conterminous United States, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories, with data acquired over an 8-year period. Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (ifsar) data will be collected over Alaska, where cloud cover and remote locations preclude the use of lidar over much of the State. The 3DEP initiative is based on the results of the National Enhanced Elevation Assessment.

3DEP Data Acquisition Partnership Opportunities


NEW! - FY15 BAA / FY16 Awards

On July 17, 2015, the USGS issued the FY15/FY16 Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). The BAA provides detailed information on how to partner with the USGS and other Federal agencies to acquire high-quality 3D Elevation data. Information and contacts are now available at Fed Biz Opps (Search for Reference Number: G15PS00558) and (Funding Opportunity Number: G15AS00123). Offerors may contribute funds toward a USGS lidar data acquisition activity via the Geospatial Products and Services Contracts or they may request 3DEP funds toward a lidar data acquisition activity where the requesting partner is the acquiring authority. Federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, academic institutions and the private sector are eligible to submit pre-proposals.

This year’s BAA process included a series of public workshops designed to increase awareness and enable stakeholders to prepare in advance for this BAA opportunity. The recordings, presentations and Q&A from these workshops are available on:

3D Elevation Program - FY15-16 Broad Agency Announcement - Pre-Proposal map

Pre-proposals were due by 1:00PM ET on August 25, 2015. This graphic represents data acquisition partnerships offered to the 3DEP program via pre-proposals. Submittal of pre-proposals was encouraged but not required. Therefore projects depicted on this graphic may not represent the full or final extent of project areas of interest that will be submitted for FY15/16 BAA Awards.

Full proposals are due by 1:00PM ET on October 23, 2015. Reference materials associated with the BAA are available on this website:

FY14 BAA / FY15 Awards

The first round of awards resulting from the first USGS Broad Area Announcement (BAA) for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) (Issued July 18, 2014) offered partnership funding to 29 proposals in 26 States and Territories. The FY15 body of work is expected to result in the influx of more than 95,000 square miles of public domain lidar point cloud data and derived elevation products into the 3DEP program.

More information about the FY14 opportunity which resulted in the FY15 awards visit: BAA Awards

3D Elevation Program - FY15 Broad Agency Announcement - Proposed Body of Work


Applications - A Few Examples

3DEP will provide expanded benefits to a range of Federal, State, local, and private industry applications. Some examples of the value of improved elevation data include:

High-resolution lidar image of Mount St. Helens, Washington.
  • On July 16, 2014 the President of the United States made 3D Elevation a component of the Climate Action Plan to help improve the Nation's climate resilience when he stated, "We're going to do more, including new data and 3D maps to help state [and] local officials in communities understand which areas and which infrastructure are at risk as a consequence of climate change." See the Video - The President Meets with His Climate Task Force
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) expects that a national enhanced elevation program could reduce the amount of time needed to update its flood maps. These enhanced data could provide significant benefits to the communities and citizens that are customers of the National Flood Insurance Program. For example, updated information could be delivered to affected communities and homeowners more quickly.
  • Using lidar data, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists discovered a surface rupture along the Tacoma fault in the State of Washington. This discovery led to a redesign of the structural elements of a $735-million suspension bridge across the Tacoma Narrows. When lidar data enable the identification of active faults near major infrastructure, mitigation steps may be taken to avoid potential catastrophes.
  • In the State of Alaska, poor-quality elevation data pose an ongoing threat to aviation safety. Improved elevation data for cockpit navigation and flight simulators may save lives each year by reducing accidents resulting from the inability to safely fly over obstacles in airspace.
  • In 2010, an estimated 262.3 million acres of farm lands were harvested in the United States at total product values of $356.2 billion. The value to America's farmers of public domain lidar for all precision agriculture nationwide is believed to be potentially worth up to $2 billion annually.
  • Related Activities

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Digital Coast
    The Digital Coast provides tools, training, and information needed to turn geospatial data into information used by coastal resource managers.

    The United States Interagency Elevation Inventory (USIEI)
    The USIEIis a comprehensive, nationwide listing of known high-accuracy topographic and bathymetric data for the United States and its territories. The project is a collaborative effort of the USGS and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with contributions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The inventory supports the 3D Elevation Program and the Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping effort. This resource is updated in Spring and Fall.


    • Provides an index of elevation data
    • Includes both topographic and bathymetric data and covers the entire nation
    • Allows users to query by county or zoom to an area of interest and print a report


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    Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 29-Sep-2015 10:41:34 EDT