Keeping ESRI Honest

Friends of LASzip and LAZ, it has come to my attention (from more than one source) that a certain company East of LA has started to more aggressively promote their proprietary LiDAR format known as the “LAZ clone” (more hereherehere and here but also read the comments) by approaching individual stake holders of the LiDAR community. Trying to convince others to drop support of the open source LASzip compression for LiDAR management, server, and storage in favour of the proprietary “LAZ clone”, said company resorts – if needed – to bad-mouthing the LAZ format with made up arguments that attack the suitability of LASzip for “professional” use.

It appears the LiDAR lock-in PR campaign is now in full swing despite of my repeated attempts to reach out to said company for creating a joint LAS 1.4 compressor that avoids fragmenting the LiDAR data market. And I may just be hearing back about a tiny tip of the drink-the-koolaid iceberg PR. This seems to mark the start of the “clone wars” that we at rapidlasso tried to avoid … (-;

laz_clonesOne way to engage the Empire is to draw them out from the darkness into full technical transparency. After all, the only argument for why the “LAZ clone” had to be created was that LAZ lacks a “particular feature” for efficient employment in the cloud, yet the question what this “particular feature” was has always been dodged (because we would have happily added it to LAZ).

How can you help?

  1. Tell us about any “LAZ clone” campaigs you hear about. Especially those targetting stake holders.
  2. Attend LiDAR training events and Webinars by ESRI that may be “teaching” the unsuspecting newbies to lock their LiDAR into the zLAS format as part of a “smart management strategy” and
    – record any arguments made for the “LAZ clone” or against LAZ so we can publically defute them
    – keep them honest by making your unwillingness to drink the koolaid on zLAS known as early as possible.
    – ask tough questions and disrupt with a strong technical critique on the user-unfriendly and vendor lock-in nature of a closed proprietary format soon as they “teach” the LAS to zLAS conversion
  3. Educate folks about the difference between open LAZ and propietary zLAS.

You may comment below (also anonymously) or email us at ‘‘ if you have any (juicy?) details about “LAZ clone” campaigns or on video or live training courses where it was “taught” to lock-up the LiDAR into zLAS during an initial “optimization” step …

LASmoons: André Große-Stoltenberg

André Große-Stoltenberg (recipient of three LASmoons)
Institute of Landscape Ecology
University of Münster, Germany

The Genus Acacia inhibits some of the most invasive shrubs and trees worldwide. Acacia longifolia is an invasive species in Mediterranean ecosystems. In Europe, it is, for example, invading dune ecosystems in Southwest Portugal. Remote sensing can is a useful tool to detect such invasive species and to study their impact, especially the combination of airborne hyperspectral and LiDAR data.

I require a robust DTM and a DSM as well as vegetation structure parameters from the airborne LiDAR data for processing the airborne hyperspectral data, and to improve species detection, invasive species impact assessment, and estimating the invasion potential.

+ 40 GB of airborne, discrete return (4 returns) LiDAR data covering a protected (NATURA2000, nature reserve, RAMSAR) Mediterranean dune ecosystem in Southwest Portugal between Comporta and Sines
+ 150 km² of open dunes and dune forest
+ average point density: 4.5 pts/m²

LAStools processing:
pre-processing of LiDAR data set [lasindex, lastile, LAZ compression]
2) denoising the data [lasnoise, lasheight]
3) generating a DTM, a DSM and a canopy height model [lasground, lasheight, blast2dem]
4) deriving vegetation structure parameters [lasgrid, lascanopy]
5) adding RGB to LiDAR data [lascolor]


Protected Mediterranean dune ecosystem (left) and invasion by the exotic shrub Acacia longifolia (right) in Pinheiro da Cruz, Southwest Portugal