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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). Applicants 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 proposals.

Reference Materials

Reference materials associated with the BAA are available on this website:

Additional Information

The FY16 BAA process included a series of public meetings designed to increase awareness and enable stakeholders to prepare in advance for this opportunity. The recordings, presentations and Q&A from these meetings are available on:

Project Awards - Selections Ongoing

The first round of awards resulting from the FY15/FY16 USGS Broad Area Announcement (BAA) for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) (Issued July 17, 2015) have been announced.

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

To date the FY16 program has offered partnership funding to 26 proposals in 23 States and Territories. The map (3D Elevation Program – FY16 Proposed Body of Work) represents data acquisition partnerships offered as of March 31, 2016; as selection is on-going, the projects depicted on the map do not represent the full or final extent of FY16 BAA projects.

To review the list and description of FY16 project awards, visit: BAA Awards

The initial solicitation response date was 23 October 2015. Submissions received by this response date receive priority consideration for award. The FY16 BAA remains open and will continue to receive submissions until 30 September 2016 or until such time as the BAA is cancelled through an amendment or another BAA is issued; consideration and selection of additional awards is dependent on the availability of funding.


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 USIEI is 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: Monday, 04-Apr-2016 14:07:40 EDT