3D Lidar Viewer


The 3D Lidar Viewer is a proof of concept for publishing statewide colorized Lidar points in a 3D ArcGIS Online web scene. It was created with the help of Esri's Living Atlas Team using ArcGIS Pro and published to ArcGIS Online.

What is it?

Lidar stands for Light detection and ranging is a remote-sensing technology that uses a laser to measure distances (ranges) between the sensor and the target(s). The output is oodles of points, each with a location and an elevation, that together create a point cloud. The points provide loads of information that can be used for a wide range of applications as evident in this viewer. Learn more from Esri or the NOAA National Ocean Service.

The Viewer contains a host of data layers that display elevation, especially Lidar points. In the past, Lidar elevation has been displayed as a either (1) a DEM (Digital Elevation Model) which is a raster (grid cells) version of the data that shows bare earth elevation, such as a hillshade or (2) a DSM (Digital Surface Model) which is a raster (grid cells) version that shows the tops of features of the surface.

View the 30-minute CLEAR Social Distancing webinar about the 3D Lidar Viewer, what it contains and how to use it.

The 3D Lidar Viewer showing colorized Lidar points of the Swing Bridge
over the Connecticut River in Haddam and East Haddam.

Why is this so cool?

From a mapping perspective ...

3D information, and especially the Lidar point cloud, has historically been difficult to work with due to complexity and large file sizes. The 3D Scene Viewer is an easy to use and fast way to view and work with a massive number of elevation points.

Not only is it visually cool, it is possible to take REAL measurements including area and height such as building height and tree crown height and diameter (check out the 3D Buildings and Trees in the Middletown area).

From an Open Data perspective ...

Highly skilled developers like those at Esri have gravitated to Connecticut (virtually at least) to try out new technologies and tools because (1) Connecticut has some amazing statewide mapping layers AND (2) they are all free and available. The bottom line- investing in base layers and making them available leads to more analyses and products with an even wider range of uses and benefits.

Suggested Viewing Combinations

To get started, check out the pre-made slides along the bottom of the viewer that highlight the available layers. They show up when you put your mouse over the Viewer.


After that, you are ready to dive into the Layer List and try these layer combinations. The help explains the tools and how to navigate.



The impervious shows the building footprints and the points show the building roof height and roof form.


Visualize roof heights relative to flood-prone areas. Notice that in many cases, although not all, the roofs are above the water.


Measure Tool: Distance