LiDAR point cloud data for Washington, DC is available for anyone to use on Amazon S3. This dataset, managed by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), through the direction of the District of Columbia GIS program, contains tiled point cloud data for the entire District along with associated metadata.

LiDAR is a remote sensing method that emits hundreds of thousands of near-infrared light pulses a second to measure distances to the Earth. These light pulses generate precise, 3D information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics. LiDAR is popularly used to make high-resolution maps and digital elevation models, with applications in geodesy, archaeology, geography, geology, seismology, and forestry.

Tiled, classified LAS files (meeting or exceeding QL1) are available to access individually on Amazon S3. The tile grid is defined by the DC OCTO grid structure which can be seen here or accessed at s3://dc-lidar-2015/Classified_LAS/Shapefile/.

In addition to the LAS file, each tile has a corresponding metadata XML. There is also a top-level metadata file for the project available via HTTPS here or via S3 at s3://dc-lidar-2015/Classified_LAS/DC_Octo_Classified_LAS.xml.

All files are web-accessible via HTTPS by going here.

Examples of how to access the files via the AWS CLI can be seen below.

aws s3 ls dc-lidar-2015 --recursive


aws s3 cp s3://dc-lidar-2015/Classified_LAS/3316.las 3316.las



Each point within the point cloud has been classified according to the schema below.

Class 1
Processed, but unclassified
Class 2 Bare earth
Class 7 Low noise
Class 9 Water
Class 10 Ignored ground
Class 11 Withheld
Class 17 Bridge decks
Class 18 High noise
District of Columbia Office of the Chief Technology Officer
Category LiDAR imagery
Format LAS, XML, SHP
License See Washington, DC Terms of Use.
Storage Service Amazon S3
Location s3://dc-lidar-2015 in us-east-1 region
Update Frequency The most recent data is from 2015 and is not being actively updated.

Educators, researchers and students can apply for free promotional credits to take advantage of Public Datasets on AWS. If you have a research project that could take advantage of DC LiDAR on AWS, you can apply for Earth on AWS Cloud Credits for Research.