USACE Uses New Survey Data Technology

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, will begin implementing mobile Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) survey data technology along the Texas coast in November to survey dredging placement areas, assist with hydrographic surveys and collect data that will help analyze beach erosion.

The use of mobile LiDAR will aid the district’s analysis of dredged placement areas, beaches, jetties and levees and will also give the district an additional tool to help make informed decisions about our projects,” said Rick Vera, USACE Galveston District geospatial manager. “This can benefit us and others by providing newly acquired mobile LiDAR data for small areas that are too costly for aerial mounted LiDAR sensors.”

Last year, the district contracted out technical services to perform data collection at 32 dredging placement areas at various locations along the Texas portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway that was used in the development of a dredged material management plan for the GIWW High Island to Brazos River Project.

This survey data assisted us in determining the current topography and dredge material capacity of each placement area, including semi-confined and open water placement areas,” said Dennis Thomas, a project manager with the USACE Galveston District. “It also helped to ensure adequate placement area capacity exists for future dredging activities.”

According to Thomas, LiDAR is an optical remote sensing technology that can measure the distance to, or other properties of, targets by illuminating the target with laser light and analyzing the backscattered light.

Vera added that staff tracked LiDAR data gathered at these placement areas using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and provided an estimate of available yardage for future dredging contracts noting that the additional layer of information in the GIS system aided staff in improving efficiency in the district’s business processes.

The challenge we’re faced with now is how to share this data between our computer-aided design and drafting and GIS environments without duplication,” said Vera. “To put it into perspective, we will soon have more LiDAR data than our current enterprise can store.”

While staff collects data, they will continue to work to resolve the knowledge management issue of making this data available to the public and partner agencies.

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