About LiDAR and Point Clouds
A simplistic definition for point clouds would be to think of them as a collection of multiple data points in a coordinate system. Point clouds are vector-based structures, each with their own XYZ coordinates and containing attributes called components that can represent things like time, flight line, and intensity. Point cloud data can be captured relatively quickly and is typically used to create 3D representations.
Especially in GIS, point clouds are very frequently mistakenly known as LiDAR (or Light Detection And Ranging). LiDAR is merely one way of capturing point clouds. So while it is true that all LiDAR data is also point cloud data, it’s not the case that all point cloud data are LiDAR data. Other types of point cloud data include sonar data and radar data, and point clouds are increasingly being created from pairs of images. Learn More