ISGS provides high-resolution digital elevation data for all 102 Illinois counties

For the first time, high-resolution digital elevation data that are essential for planning by local, state, and federal agencies are available online for all Illinois counties.

The data were collected using airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technologies. Products derived from LiDAR data have proven to be efficient and accurate tools for: mapping river forecasts used in flood emergency response for public safety; implementing flood control; floodplain mapping and regulation; risk analysis; delineating building footprints; identifying geological landforms and archaeological features; planning for dam removal; conducting levee and watershed analyses; and evaluating habitats, including tree canopies and individual tree counts and heights. By comparing LiDAR from different years, it’s possible to discern many land-use changes over time, thereby providing planners and developers with accurate measurements for assessing climate change effects on water and biota.    

Illinois LiDAR data collection began more than a decade ago, with the final seven of 102 counties completed earlier this year. This ongoing Illinois Height Modernization project was established as part of the National Geodetic Survey National Height Modernization state coordination effort and is led by ISGS program manager Sheena Beaverson, who is the state liaison for airborne LiDAR data projects within Illinois. Other program staff members include Janet Camarca, remote sensing data manager, and Matthew Jefferson, remote sensing data analyst. 

The ISGS Height Modernization team works to establish data-sharing agreements to review, archive, and distribute any airborne LiDAR data acquired within Illinois. Data are offered online at the Illinois Geospatial Data Clearinghouse as originally delivered LAS tiles or as the derivative products of a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) or Digital Terrain Model (DTM), and Digital Surface Model (DSM). See for program information and data.

Later this year, a grant from the United States Geological Survey 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) will support collection of new, higher-resolution data for nine Illinois counties for which data was last collected a decade ago, including Champaign County and eight counties in the northwest corner of the state. 

For more information, contact Sheena Beaverson, 217-244-9306 or