The 3D Elevation Program and America's infrastructure

Fact Sheet 2016-3093
By:  and 



Infrastructure—the physical framework of transportation, energy, communications, water supply, and other systems—and construction management—the overall planning, coordination, and control of a project from beginning to end—are critical to the Nation’s prosperity. The American Society of Civil Engineers has warned that, despite the importance of the Nation’s infrastructure, it is in fair to poor condition and needs sizable and urgent investments to maintain and modernize it, and to ensure that it is sustainable and resilient.

Three-dimensional (3D) light detection and ranging (lidar) elevation data provide valuable productivity, safety, and cost-saving benefits to infrastructure improvement projects and associated construction management. By providing data to users, the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) of the U.S. Geological Survey reduces users’ costs and risks and allows them to concentrate on their mission objectives. 3DEP includes (1) data acquisition partnerships that leverage funding, (2) contracts with experienced private mapping firms, (3) technical expertise, lidar data standards, and specifications, and (4) most important, public access to high-quality 3D elevation data.

The size and breadth of improvements for the Nation’s infrastructure and construction management needs call for an efficient, systematic approach to acquiring foundational 3D elevation data. The 3DEP approach to national data coverage will yield large cost savings over individual project-by-project acquisitions and will ensure that data are accessible for other critical applications.

Suggested Citation

Lukas, Vicki, and Carswell, W.J., Jr., 2016, The 3D Elevation Program and America's infrastructure: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016–3093, 2 p.,

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

ISSN: 2327-6916 (print)

Table of Contents

  • Infrastructure Connects Us All
  • Uses of 3D Elevation Data
  • Benefits of 3D Elevation Data
  • Maximized Benefits and Minimized Risks
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title The 3D Elevation Program and America's infrastructure
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2016-3093
DOI 10.3133/fs20163093
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) National Geospatial Program
Description 2 p.
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details