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PAMAP involved the collection of high-resolution digital aerial photographs and lidar elevation data that can be used to produce high-quality digital base maps for Pennsylvania. Orthorectified photographs and bare-earth digital elevation models (DEMs) processed from the lidar data become the base layers in digital maps.

Orthoimages and DEMs provide information of use to government agencies, first responders, and the public. They are valuable tools for anyone supporting comprehensive planning, economic development, or public safety in the state.

Data collection for PAMAP began in 2003 and ended in 2008. Some additional orthophotos were purchased in 2010 and 2012. The program was administered by the DCNR Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey in partnership with federal, (other) state, and county government agencies.

PAMAP data were projected into the relevant Pennsylvania North or South State Plane Coordinate System and clipped into tiles representing areas of 100 million square feet. These tiles of data can be downloaded for free from Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access (use keyword PAMAP). Bulk orders for orthoimagery or lidar elevation data can also be placed with the Pennsylvania State Data Center (PDF).

Documents detailing project history, data standards, and quality assurance checks can be downloaded as PAMAP documents (ZIP).


Orthoimages combine the image characteristics of a photograph with the geometric qualities of a map. PAMAP aerial photographs were orthorectified to produce 1:2400-scale, leaf-off, full-color orthoimages at a 1-foot pixel resolution.

Lidar Elevation Data

Lidar is a detection system that makes very precise measurements of distance using laser light. As such, it can make very precise determinations of land and other surface-feature elevations. The word “lidar” is an acronym for Light Detection and Ranging.

The PAMAP Program used lidar to collect 3-D measurements of Pennsylvania’s land surface. There are four lidar-derived data products that came out of the PAMAP Program:

  • Point Clouds
  • Digital Elevation Models
  • Breaklines
  • Contours