Collaborative Research: OpenTopography: A Cyberinfrastructure Facility for Topographic Data Services and Knowledge

Project: Research project

Project Details


Collaborative Research: OpenTopography: A Cyberinfrastructure Facility for Topographic Data Services and Knowledge Collaborative Research: OpenTopography: A Cyberinfrastructure Facility for Topographic Data, Services, and Knowledge OpenTopography (OT) was initiated in order to democratize access to lidar topography data and tools by transitioning cyberinfrastructure and geoinformatics technology R&D to production systems. This proposal seeks to extend support for OT's high-resolution topographic data facility activities in the next phase, OT3, by incorporating cyberinfrastructure capabilities that will provide for extensibility, by creating a "pluggable" framework for new services, and scalability, by supporting cloud computing approaches, as well as support for new forms of lidar data, including waveform and differential lidar. OT3 will provide continued support for the large and enthusiastic lidar user community and strengthen our earth science foundation while making OT a cyberinfrastructure-enabled facility that supports a broad base of sciences. OT's rapidly growing data holdings currently include approximately 821 billion lidar returns, thousands of pre-computed digital elevation models (DEMs), and easily usable Google Earth imagery. Datasets are from a variety of providers, including the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM), EarthScope, Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs), NOAA, US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), USGS, BLM, the US Forest Service, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), the Tahoe Regional Planning Authority, the Teton Conservation District, the State of Indiana, and Pacific Gas and Electric. Broader Impact. Since its inception as a data facility over five years ago, OpenTopography has established itself as the place to go for free earth science-oriented high-resolution topography and related tools. The OT user community has grown to over 8,000 registered users. More than 75,000 jobs have accessed over 1.5 trillion lidar returns. In a recent survey (June 2015), OpenTopography users identified themselves as students, academic researchers/post docs, government agency staff, university faculty, and commercial sector. OT has an extensive education and outreach program that will continue in the next phase with emphasis on education and training for graduate students and academic researchers on lidar data processing and analysis techniques, and earth science topography analysis community building. Intellectual Merit. OpenTopography has developed a robust cyberinfrastructure platform that provides convenient and easy to use online access to data and powerful web based processing tools. OT3 will further develop this platform to provide a "pluggable" services framework that will allow the community to integrate new processing algorithms into the OT framework, with emphasis on processing of waveform lidar and differential lidar. In collaboration with individual researchers, OT3 will develop standardized procedures to deploy software as Web services which can be plugged into the OT data and processing framework. This extensible and scalable infrastructure will permit quicker development and access to new processing algorithms by the community. OT3 will also expand support for terrestrial and waveform lidar, as well as support for high-resolution imagery collected alongside lidar and for terrain data from sources other than lidar. The OT3 cyberinfrastructure will expand from our dedicated servers to include cloud-based infrastructures as well as NSF's national computational resources, thus allowing OT processing to scale as dictated by workload and scientific applications. OT3 will also extend its existing social networking capabilities to promote data-centric collaborations among OT users.
Effective start/end date7/1/1612/31/20


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $155,716.00


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