The Federal Geospatial Data Committee, sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, is working with industry to create a national spatial accuracy standard for the collection of 3D transportation assets.

At least one industry group is urging that the standard mirror the accuracy requirements for the dynamic maps under development for automated vehicle systems.  

In a recent blog post, Robert Dingess, president and CEO of the Geospatial Transportation Mapping Association (GTMA), said aligning the standards would open the door to integrating transportation-agency data with the “extensive private-sector LiDAR and photogrammetry data sets” being collected and maintained by the private sector for automated vehicle operations.

Several sessions about the project are planned for the GTMA’s annual meeting, to be held Nov. 10-11 in Washington, D.C.

Since probe data—data collected from sensors within a car—would be tied to those dynamic maps, that data also would align with highway-department asset data, Dingess says. Then, engineers would be better able to interpret feedback about road conditions from the vehicles using them. But since the technology is quickly evolving, Dingess says the GTMA’s goal is to get the standards aligned from the start.

“It’s more about preparing for standards, rather than the issue of lack of standards,” Dingess says. “What we’re trying to do is prepare for some of the requirements that are coming out that are still under rule with the Federal Highway Administration.”

The transportation sector’s drive for 3D data standards is echoed in other sectors, including building documentation. Charles Hixon, a business development director at EDGE-Global Technology Solutions, compares the current lack of standards for 3D data collection to the advent of CAD in the 1980s. “Today’s technology is changing the way we design—[and that’s] on top of using new technology,” Hixon says. “It’s as much a cultural change as it is a technological one, and that’s where I see the roadblocks.”

Hixon says he is working on a project with an architectural firm that involves laser-scanning from both parties. But “both of us approach the use of it radically differently,” he says, which creates new difficulties.

Stephen Ellis, mobile mapping manager at Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, says having industry-adopted standards and processes will ensure that the results of his outsourced data-acquisition projects will be compatible with one another. That compatibility will ensure that “I’m not taking a big risk,” he says.