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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

FY18 USGS Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP)

Partnership Opportunities

The FY17/FY18 Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) was released on August 16, 2017. 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 available at Fed Biz Opps (Search for Reference Number: G17PS00746) and (Funding Opportunity Number: G17AS00116). 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.

Public Webinars

The USGS hosts a set of public webinars each year to introduce the BAA opportunity to the broadest stakeholder community possible and to provide a summary of the application process.

The next set of public webinars will be held in August of 2017.

3D Elevation Program - FY17 All Opportunities awarded

Fiscal Year 2017 status of 3DEP quality data, as of August 2017

To review previous BAA project awards, visit:

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.
  • 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: Tuesday, 23-Jan-2018 11:25:21 EST