3D Laser Scanning: Seeking a New Standard in Documentation

Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS)

Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS)

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) are organising a workshop to look at the preservation of laser scan data.

The event is described thus:

The Digital Preservation Coalition and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland invite you to join them at a workshop to explore the preservation of 3d laser scan data.

Current best practice guidance for the long term preservation of 3D laser scan data, in particular the required metadata is found to be onerous by data creators. This workshop will bring together leading practitioners from the archaeological community, alongside leading data archivists and software suppliers in the UK and Ireland to work towards agreeing a new metadata standard to facilitate preservation.

This event will allow for communication between archivists, creators and purveyors of software and hardware for laser scanning, as well as equipment manufacturers.  The aim is to ensure that the export of metadata is much simpler and more convenient for users.

3D Laser Scanning for Heritage

3D Laser Scanning for Heritage

See the RCAHMS website for more information.

This is a timely event as the rise of laser scanning has produced significant amounts of big data over the past decade. Previous work on this topic, such as the Heritage3D project which I participated in, paved the way whilst the English Heritage guidance on terrestrial laser scanning and the Archaeology Data Service Guide to Good Practice (G2GP) provide practical advice on capturing and managing TLS data but the thorny issue of archive deposition requires further attention. Whilst laser scanning is often the most efficient and practical means of capturing data (importantly re-usable data which can often be repurposed without recourse to further fieldwork), the process of documenting this data and preparing an archive to meet the published specifications is a considerable piece of work. The production of metadata is indeed an onerous task, as stated by the event organisers and any such activity to improve this area of the standards will be welcome.

Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS)

Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS)

A bigger issue, however, remains what to do with the reams of data being produced by contractors. Whilst working for Wessex Archaeology, I designed and managed numerous laser scan projects, each of which produced many tens of gigabytes of raw data, processed data and output drawings, renders and animations. All of this was captured according to best practice guidelines but the point cloud data (raw and processed) itself has not currently been deposited with any archive repositories as a) traditional archives do not know how to handle such large digital datasets and b) cost of archiving with a recognised digital repository is prohibitive to the extent that if this were factored in to the project costs, the project would become unfeasibly expensive. Clearly there is an issue here and with luck, this will be one of the issues discussed at the workshop given the range of people who will be present. Sadly I will not be one of them as I had to turn down my invitation.

UPDATE: the event is now fully booked!

7 thoughts on “3D Laser Scanning: Seeking a New Standard in Documentation

  1. Pingback: 3D Laser Scanning: Seeking a New Standard in Documentation « archaeoinaction.info

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