Should we be supporting Open Source as a way forward for LIDAR technologies? It could open doors to many – or will it result in the closure of a number of industry players and be too high a price to pay? Or consider Point Cloud Services; are these a way to dramatically improve services for customers or is this just evolving technology?

After much feedback from the LIDAR community, the organizers of the European LiDAR Mapping Forum (ELMF) have selected these two burning issues to be debated in a newly introduced plenary panel debate session, taking place on the opening day of the European LiDAR Mapping Forum, which runs from Nov. 29 to 30, 2011, in Salzburg, Austria. Experts from all sectors of the LIDAR industry will put forward their opinions for debate with delegates.

The debate has come at a significant time for the industry; when there is a growing trend in the way data is becoming available to a much larger user community through open source and cloud services. This is presenting a whole new set of challenges not only to the existing industry players in terms of ensuring commercial viability of mapping projects, but these also flag up the need to educate a congregation of new users in the benefits and limitations, understanding and management of the LIDAR data they use. The debate should help highlight these complex issues within the community.

The European LiDAR Mapping Forum Conference Chairman, Alastair MacDonald, commented, “These are crucial issues for the LIDAR community. At one level we have to understand the growing demand for LIDAR data with a widening group of users, and the benefits of open source data. At another level there are questions about the computational resources required to efficiently manage the huge volumes of spatial data, which is where cloud services may be of benefit. But cloud services also pose the question of who would manage and control the data. Ultimately these issues will impact on the business models of many organisations and it is important that we raise this to the top of the agenda, for the community to debate and progress.”

Running alongside the European LiDAR Mapping Forum conference will be an exhibition of more than 50 companies in the LIDAR industry market. Exhibitors include the LIDAR and complementary sensor manufacturers, survey and mapping companies, data processing, GIS and management specialists and the latest mobile mapping vehicles. In addition, there will be a full series of learning workshops and demonstrations aimed at providing an understanding of the basic principles and fundamental benefits of LIDAR, which should appeal to newcomers to LIDAR.