[OSGeo-Standards] OGC vote on LAS 1.4 as a community standard

Martin Isenburg martin.isenburg at gmail.com
Sun Jan 29 16:20:49 PST 2017

Hello Bruce,

I assume that your refer to the email exchanges that eventually led to this
open letter


No. These concerns are not addressed. The proposed adoption of the latest
LAS 1.4 specification does - imho - *nothing* to address what the open
letter was about. The OGC is merely taking the existing open, already
widely used, and uncompressed LAS 1.4 specification from the ASPRS [1] and
makes it a "community standard" of the OGC. This does *not* address the
concern about fragmentation of the compressed LiDAR via the introduction of
a proprietary "Optimized LAS" format by ESRI. Is it a "first step" ... ?
Maybe, but I do not see how this leads to a second step ... especially
given the opinion of the chair of the ASPRS LAS Working Group (see below).

[1] http://www.asprs.org/a/society/committees/standards/LAS_1_4_r13.pdf

There is complete lack of transparency and history keeping in the ASPRS LAS
Working Group (LWG) that defines the LAS format. I am a member of the LWG
and have repeatedly asked the chair to please follow the usual protocol of
a standardization body. Currently all final decisions are made by the chair
after a round of emails on which the 15 or so members are copied. Most of
these members never participate in any discussion. The history of
all decision making only exists in form of emails of the individual LWG
members. This somehow works well when the chair makes only wise decisions,
but fails when there is serious disagreement like in the "laser war of
2011" [2]. The LAS format is called an "ASPRS standard" which means little
given how the LWG works but makes it looks really "legit" to the public eye.


I was hoping with the OGC giving the LAS 1.4 format its "stamp of approval"
the OGC would at least require some form of openness in the way the LAS
standard is maintained by asking the ASRPS to make the LWG operate more
like a proper standardization body. But that does not seem to be the case
as evidenced by the email of the LWG chair copied below. So I wonder ...
what is the point of making LAS 1.4 an "OGC community standard"? What does
it accomplish? How do you want me to vote?

Maybe Howard Butler - also a member of the LWG - should weigh in here.




From: Lewis Graham <lgraham at geocue.com>
Date: Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 1:14 AM
Subject: LAS to become OGC Community Standard
To: LAS Working Group Members

Dear LAS Working Group –

The OGC approached ASPRS (Michael Hauk) regarding the LAS format becoming
an OGC Community Standard.  Though I am not entirely sure of the value of a
community standard (not criticizing, just don’t know), the Community
Standard status has no impact on the workings or flexibility of the LWG.

The summary points are:
·         OGC would like to bring LAS 1.4 in as a Community Standard (CS)
·         The format document can remain as is with the addition of a cover
page and Intellectual Property Rights statements.
·         The CS of LAS 1.4 would be a frozen snapshot of LAS.  It would
not be evolved by OGC.
·         If LAS is to be updated by the OGC, it will be via the same
mechanism – e.g. LAS 2.0 would be developed by ASPRS LAS Working Group
(LWG)and then considered by OGC as a new Community Standard
·         Questions regarding the Community Standard version of LAS 1.4
would be vectored to the LWG of the ASPRS.  We never approve changes to a
fielded standard that would byte someone.  These questions are usually
interpretation of fields (for example, what does “Return 0 of n” mean?  Is
this a warning level standard violation or a rejection level error?)
·         The OGC is not concerned with the structure or processes used by
the LWG
·         ASPRS would maintain its copyright
·         The LAS Working Group remains the keeper and evolver of LAS

The ASRPS Board of Directors (I am not a member of the BOD) voted to
approve the adoption of LAS as an OGC Community Standard on Sunday, 11
September 2016.

Best Regards,


From: Lewis Graham <lgraham at geocue.com>
Date: Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 7:24 PM
Subject: RE: LAS to become OGC Community Standard
To: Martin Isenburg <martin.isenburg at gmail.com>
Cc: LAS Working Group Members

Hi Martin,

Sure, for reposting.


Usually someone takes their standard to the OGC and asks if it can become a
“Community Standard.”  I understand the OGC came to ASPRS in this case.

Seems completely benign to me in terms of the forward direction of LAS.

Best Regards,

On Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 11:25 PM, Bruce Bannerman <
bruce.bannerman.osgeo at gmail.com> wrote:

> Colleagues,
> I recall a number of emails over recent years over concerns regarding
> LIDAR data formats.
> I also saw the OGC TC vote that is currently open (see below).
> Have the issues that OSGeo members expressed a concern with been resolved
> with this version of the proposed spec?
> Bruce
> =====
> This ballot is for recommendation to approve a new Community standard work
> item for LAS 1.4.
> Abstract:  LAS is a specification for a point cloud file format.  It is
> primarily used for transmitting laser point cloud data (LiDAR) but can be
> used for any general 2D or 3D point oriented encoding. The LAS
> specification is a relatively compact binary encoding of point location and
> point attribute data.  Rather than store attributes in referenced records,
> the light-weight attribute data of LAS is stored in the same record as the
> point data. LAS is widely implemented across the entire LiDAR community.
> The LAS 1.4 Community standard justification document [16-139] can be
> downloaded from:
> Therefore, the Technical Committee Chair has initiated a vote to recommend
> approval of a new Community standard work item for LAS 1.4.
> This is a 45 day electronic vote. The vote will end on 2 February 2017.
> =====
> _______________________________________________
> Standards mailing list
> Standards at lists.osgeo.org
> https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/standards
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