Woolpert to map rural Texas broadband opportunities on electrical infrastructure

July 11, 2023
AEG firm will help identify the state's rural broadband gaps.

Woolpert, an architecture, engineering, geospatial (AEG), and strategic consulting firm, has been contracted to collect high-density Light detection and ranging (lidar) data for over 6,800 square miles of rural Texas to map electrical distribution poles and wires along with surrounding natural and man-made infrastructure for future broadband deployments. 

Lidar data are collected from aircraft using sensors that detect the reflections of a pulsed laser beam. These reflections are recorded as millions of individual points, collectively called a “point cloud,” that represent the 3D positions of objects on the surface including buildings, vegetation, and the ground.

The data will be collected via fixed-wing manned aircraft.

Woolpert will create a high-density point cloud that will be classified and used to construct survey grade 3D models and provide analysis and engineering for the existing electrical distribution network. This will help Texas electric utilities in pursuing permitting joint-use agreements for broadband expansion and will help accelerate the development and implementation of broadband internet throughout the region.

Woolpert Energy Market Director Mike Battles said this high-density, point cloud project streamlines data collection to improve scheduling efficiency, supporting the application of new technology to advance energy operations for utility clients and broadband access for consumers nationwide.

"Woolpert’s airborne lidar mapping capabilities are innovative in that we can obtain highly accurate survey points of an existing distribution network for areas as large as an entire U.S. state on an accelerated schedule,” Battles said. “With this approach, we are able to drastically improve efficiency and accuracy, and therefore provide a cost-benefit for our clients.”

The contract is currently underway.