How to install LAStools toolbox in QGIS

how to install LAStools toolbox in QGISWant to use LIDAR data with QGIS? Then use these simple step by step guide to help you install the LAStools toolbox into your free QGIS software.

( Tested successfully with the following QGIS versions 1.8.0-Lisboa, 2.0.1-Dufour, 2.2.0-Valmiera, and 2.4.0-Chugiak)

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Geomatics Acronyms and Abbreviations

Geomatics has become a pretty common term in Canada lately and includes many different disciplines such as geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, cartography, land surveying, global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), photogrammetry, geography and other related forms of spatial mapping.

Using acronyms and abbreviations is commonly practiced in the Geomatics industry and most of the time people just assume that everybody else knows what every acronyms and abbreviation stands for. Well that is obviously not the case most of the time and over the years I have created myself a little digital cheat-sheet of geomatics acronyms and abbreviations that I use with my work in my writing.

Here is a large collection of common acronyms and abbreviations related to the Canadian Geomatics industry:

3D Modeling with High Resolution LIDAR

I created and presented this poster featuring LIDAR Color Shaded Relief model of Bouctouche / Shediac area of New Brunswick at the 2004 Geotech event that was held in Toronto.

Bouctouche New Brunswick LIDAR

I created and presented the following poster displaying LIDAR CSR surface modeling of Bouctouche, New Brunswick as part of my Applied Geomatics graduate work at COGS in 2004. The inset is a 3D perspective view of the image represented by the large blue arrow.

LIDAR surface modeling of Bouctouche New Brunswick

Where will your Geomatics Career Bring You?

GPS work in Labrador“Should you Specialize or Diversify?”

Something many of us in geomatics often come across in our careers is whether or not we should be specialized on a specific geomatics aspect (like a certain software or skill set) or should we diversify and become competent in a multitude of geomatics related disciplines.

One particular problem with being really specialized in something is that although you become an expert in something you can often be too focused, and potentially closing other doors or limiting possible career paths. When you diversify you can still become specialized in things but at a lesser extent yet work with more components of the industry.

When I started off my geomatics career I thought it was better to become specialized in a particular trait and that would maintain my career path. Well that did work out pretty good for a few years, and I became very efficient in one aspect of geomatics (orthophotography and imagery analysis).

However one day I realized that I was focused only a narrow spectrum of the skills that I had worked so hard to learn. As a result I was losing many other skill-sets that I had developed.

“My career and has allowed me to be involved in many projects that go well beyond what my education prepared me for.”

Since then I have almost gone to the other extreme and have become diversified, experienced and well rounded with a multitude of geomatics skills which has in turn often provided me an edge in my career and has allowed me to be involved in many projects that go well beyond what my COGS education prepared me for. And I find that it makes for a more interesting career when your job allows you to combine a multitude of different geomatics aspects together.

GPS work Mealy MountainsNow, everyone is different and the great thing about the Canadian geomatics industry is that there are plenty of opportunities to Specialize or Diversify, so perhaps you should consider ‘Where will your Geomatics Career Bring You?’ when you are sending out your resumes. Do go out there, network and get advice from others, But do what best suits your career aspirations.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel all over North and Central America with my jobs over the years and recently I came back from doing some field work in Newfoundland & Labrador and since last month’s GoGeomatics theme was “Canadian Surveying & Surveyors” Jonathan asked if I could share some of my photos from the trip with the GoGeomatics Magazine.

The five week trip involved GPS and total station survey work in many remote scenic locations with pretty decent weather (only a few days of snow). I have included a few photos here, but you can find more on my Flickr photo account or on my blog where I frequently add photos and information about my trips and projects that I have been involved with.

Note: This post was picked up by GoGeomatics and also published in their digital magazine

3D Flood Modeling with LIDAR

This is a summary detailing the methodologies and issues involved during an extensive technical graduate project that I completed as part of the Applied Geomatics Research program with the Center of Geographic Sciences (COGS) and the Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG).LIDAR Color Shaded Image of Pointe du chene New Brunswick with modeled January 2000 Flood maps layered ontop

The main goal of the project was to generate flood maps and DEMs with better than 30 cm vertical accuracy for the coastal area of southeastern New Brunswick in support of CCAF Project A591. The CCAF project was a venture partnered with Environment Canada, Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, New Brunswick Resources and Energy, Parks Canada, Universite de Moncton, Nova Scotia Community College (AGRG & COGS) and the University of New Brunswick. The aim of the CCAF project team was to collaborate together and generate accurate maps and information that would quantify the impacts of climate change, sea-level rise, storm surge events and coastal erosion in support of sustainable management and the development of adaptation strategies.

The project involved mapping areas at risk to coastal flooding from storm surge events. High resolution elevation data acquired from an airborne LIDAR sensor was used to interpolate three dimensional digital elevation models of the coastal topography and to accurately model flooding for the selec

ted case study areas in southeast New Brunswick. Based upon the LIDAR DEM and the provided predicted sea-level rise information from storm surge and climate change models, several flood risk maps of the coastal zone of New Brunswick were produced.Further analysis of the spatial relationships between existing structures and land cover types and predicted flood risk maps will be done in collaboration with other sub-projects of the CCAF project committee.

The project was the major portion of the advanced diploma in Applied Geomatics Research that I obtained from the Center of Geographic Sciences (COGS). This web page is intended as a summary portfolio of the project, with links to the related components such as papers, presentations, posters, scripts, images etc.


2004 AGRG CCAF Key Map of LIDAR study areas in New Brunswick

The study area for the project consisted of the coastal Gulf Shore region of southeastern New Brunswick from Kouchibouguac National Park south to Jourimain Island. The area was split into ten smaller polygons, based on sub-project requirements of the CCAF team and comprised the areas of highest scientific interest and significant priority for governments and coastal stake holders.The polygons were given the following names: Kouchibouguac National Park,Cap Lumiere, La Dune, Bouctouche, Cormierville, Ile Cocagne, Cap Pele, Shemogue Harbour, Little Shemogue, and Cape Jourimain.

2004 AGRG CCAF New Brunswick LIDAR Study Areas integrated with a LANDSAT image

Literature Review

The literature review consisted of a paper and a presentation that took place during September and October of 2003 at the Applied Geomatics Research Group facility in Middleton, Nova Scotia.

Project Proposal

All students were required to construct a proposal for their respective projects even though we were basically all ready committed to complete the project and funding had already been secured prior to our presence. Also in my case, I was already 6 months into the project when I was writing the proposal. The project proposal consisted of a paper and a presentation that took place during September and October of 2003 at the Applied Geomatics Research Group facility in Middleton, Nova Scotia.

LIDAR equipment from the 2004 AGRG New Brunswick LIDAR mission including helicopter, IMU and LIDAR hardware

Final Paper and Presentation

The final paper was prepared to summarize the entire project, the report was rather lengthy with over 200 pages of content, the PDF version had to have all image resolutions degraded to allow it to be posted to the site and note that it is still relatively a large file (over 20 mb).

Final presentations were given at the CCAF annual general meeting at the University of Moncton in New Brunswick and the 2004 Geomatics Atlantic Conference at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick

Ortho photo of Shediac New Brunswick and a CSR model comparing the similarities of photogrammetry and LIDAR surfaces

Other Related Papers and Presentations

I have presented this project at the 2004 GeoTec Conference in Toronto, Ontario, the 2004 Geomatics Atlantic Conference and at the 98th Canadian Institute of Geomatics Conference in Ottawa, Ontario.

Three Dimensional Flood Modeling with High Resolution LIDAR presentation at the Canadian Institute of Geomatics 2005 Conference held in Ottawa, Ontario


Several scripts were written for this project to aid with the automation of repeat data processing. EASI scripts were written and used with PCI and AML scripts were written and used with ESRI ArcINFO 9x workstation.

  • Bonnycastle A & MacKinnon E (2003) TERRA_IMPORT.aml based on previous AGRG AML script written by Christian M,Dickie S, & MacKinnon F
  • Bonnycastle A, MacKinnon E & Miline T (2003) TILE_GRID.aml
  • Bonnycastle A, MacKinnon E & Miline T (2003) TILE_GRID.aml – this version was designed to create the Allhits surface grids
  • MacKinnon E (2004) Flood_BT.mod – EASI script that was designed to create flood images of the LIDAR DEM (a different version was created for each study area)
  • MacKinnon E (2004) Flood_CP_anim.mod – EASI script that was designed to create flood images to incorporate into the flood animations (a different version was created for each study area)


Images submitted to posted on the Environment Canada web site:


  • MacKinnon E (2004) Three dimensional flood simulation – This is a simulated flood from sea level to 5m integrated with a color shaded relief DSM
  • MacKinnon E (2004) Three dimensional fly over simulation – LIDAR All hits surface with a color orthophoto mosaic draped on top


Several posters were created for this project with some of them being presented at major
conferences. All posters were relatively large and hard to represent on a web site, so most cases these are low resolution graphic representations, and not meant to be the actual posters.

This poster titled 3D Modeling with High Resolution LIDAR was presented at the 2005 GeoTec Conference in Toronto


Related Links

COGS – (Center of Geographic Sciences)

AGRG – (Applied Geomatics Research Group)

Environment Canada

PCI Geomatics


Leica Geosystems GPS

Canadian Institute of Geomatics

COGS Applied Geomatics Research Course Descriptions

5033 Research Methods

The primary objective of this course is to prepare the student to undertake his/her individual research in the second semester. The standard components in a research project are: literature review, methodology, proposal writing, and proposal presentation.

5035 Advanced Data Processing

The main data sets involved in this course will consist of information collected under the CFI funding. The data sets include: LIDAR, CASI, Ikonos and digital aerial photography. Other field data sets will be used and integrated with the analysis. Along with technical papers associated with the assignment data processing, each student will select a specific application of the data and make a presentation at the end of the term as well as write a technical report on his/her activity

5041 Directed Research Applications

This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to engage in selected research applications. There will be requirements to conduct literature reviews, investigate specific software tools and techniques, and develop various graphical user interfaces and analytical tools.

6040 Research Project

The research project is a major component of the AGR program. It fully occupies the second and third semesters. During the first semester, as part of the normal course load, each student completes a research proposal. The proposal describes the research
problem, literature review, methodology, time lines and deliverables. Project management in the second semester includes weekly meetings with his/her supervisor and monthly presentations to the program research committee (all faculty). Many of the research projects involve collaboration with external clients. In which case, copies of
the proposal, deliverables and final report are given to the external client as well as maintained by AGRG. The research project meets the Work Experience requirements for the Applied Geomatics Research Program.

LIDAR Data Images – The Beer Store Truck

LIDAR Data of A Beer Store truck in Ontario


Above is a screen shot image created with LIDAR point data (intensity values) captured during a LIDAR survey in Ottawa with the TITAN mobile laser scanning system. The intensity values allow you to clearly make out the painted Beer Store logo on the side of the truck.


House of Cards Music Video

Always cool to see Geomatics technology used for non traditional geomatics uses!

Here Radiohead’s new music video was not created with any traditional video cameras but instead they used 3D LIDAR scanning technology.

Actual Radiohead Music Video:

Making the Music Video: