Only about 30% of the United States has been scanned by aerial LiDAR systems according to a article from Deep Dive Intelligence. The current pace is about 1-2% per year for new data. It is on a pace that it will take 35 years to map the country on a repeating cycle. This also brings up old data concerns as some data in North Carolina is 11-12yrs old and current refreshes are needed. The sequester has reduced spending to $50million/year when it needs to be at a pace of $146million to keep pace. The USGS is reducing the data quality collected to save money, they are using Level 2 data with 2 pulses per square meter where ideally you want Level 1 data with 8 pulses per square meter.
LiDAR scanning of the country should be increased to get quality Level 1 data on a normal refresh time frame (ideally 5-10yrs not counting disaster updates). The prices are cheap compared to what the US government spends on other programs. This can be a stepping stone to a large scale refresh of our country’s infrastructure including increased construction projects, improved disaster response for public safety and the growth of a national smart grid-like database that goes beyond power networks to a national virtual reality to manage the country’s infrastructure well into this century and the next century. This would be a investment that would have good Return On Investment (ROI) for the country.