Skip To Content


In most organizations, lidar data is part of a larger data management effort that includes other elevation data. Some projects require analysis of the lidar data in 3D point format, but nearly all lidar projects share a need for elevation surfaces such as a bare-earth digital terrain model (DTM) and first-return digital surface model (DSM). A key requirement is fast access for visualization and analysis of elevation surfaces to support a variety of workflows.

Representations of the data such as hillshade and slope are often required, and the raster surfaces can be used for fast viewshed and volumetric analysis. The elevation data within an organization will typically come from many different projects, in some cases with the same area covered by multiple data collections. The generation of rasters from lidar is therefore a primary aim of this workflow.

The other common requirement is the serving of lidar point clouds, or enabling users to download the lidar points for detailed analysis. As an alternative to users downloading the point clouds, it may be better to serve geoprocessing tools that utilize the underlying 3D points in an analysis task and return the required results served. See below for links to Help documentation on how this can be achieved.

Depending on your organization and the needs of the end user, you'll want to do some combination of the following steps:

  1. Managing your separate lidar collections using LAS datasets
  2. Performing quality control (QC) checks to verify the lidar data
  3. Determining parameters to create raster files
  4. Creating derived raster elevation surfaces for visualization and analysis
  5. Creating mosaic datasets and serving the raster data
  6. Sharing the lidar points for visualization via a simple web browser
  7. Enabling download of the lidar point files
  8. Building and sharing geoprocessing services for server-side analysis

The recommended workflow for processing and managing lidar data within ArcGIS includes many steps in common with the recommended best practices for elevation data. As such, this document describes only the lidar-specific details as required; users should also refer to the elevation workflow.

Many users may wish to download the Elevation scripts and sample data to review along with this documentation, as they provide key examples for working with the raster surfaces created in this workflow.