1. Introduction

Point cloud data is often provided in tiles. After downloading the tiles you need to merge them for further analysis. With virtual point clouds, you don't need to physically merge the tiles, which reduces the amount of disk space needed for intermediate results.

A virtual point cloud (VPC) is a new method to handle a large number of point cloud files. It is a file format that references other point cloud files, similar to the concept of virtual rasters. At its core, a VPC file is a simple JSON file with a .vpc extension, containing references to actual data files (e.g. LAS/LAZ or COPC files) and additional metadata extracted from the files. Tools supporting virtual point clouds handles the whole tiled dataset as a single data source. This makes it easier to display and analyse all the point cloud files listed in the virtual file.

In this tutorial you'll learn to:

  • Download AHN4 point cloud tiles from Geotiles.nl
  • Check point cloud information
  • Build a virtual point cloud layer from tiles
  • Visualise the result in the QGIS 3D view
We'll use QGIS (version 3.32 or newer) and open data from Geotiles.nl.