https://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/2015/06/16/free-mapping-data-will-elevate-flood-risk-knowledge/

Free mapping data will elevate flood risk knowledge

For the past 17 years we have been capturing LIDAR (Light Detection & Ranging) data in England. LIDAR uses a laser to scan and map the landscape from above and is widely considered to be the best method for collecting very dense and accurate elevation data across the landscape.

We use LIDAR to help the work of the Environment Agency in many ways, including creating flood models, assessing coastal change and analysing how land is used.

Coastal LIDAR dataWe now have an extensive archive of aerial LIDAR data covering nearly three quarters (72%) of England – the data mainly covers flood plains, coastal zones and urban areas. As technology has improved and costs have fallen, LIDAR data is now being used by just about everybody who works with maps. From local planners to archaeologists, farmers to ecologists, LIDAR data can inform their work.

In 2013,  we made the data available for free for the first time for non-commercial use to anybody who wanted it. In that time more than one million kmof data has been downloaded.

Following the Winter Floods 2014, we committed to ensuring our information is available, by publishing as much of it as possible as Open Data – free of charge and restrictions. From September 2015 all our LIDAR data will become Open Data and everyone will be able to use it for free.

LIDAR open dataWe are releasing two LIDAR products under the Open Government Licence and you will be able to access these through Datashare.

  1. Tiled LIDAR data
    The full tiled dataset consists of historic LIDAR data which has been gathered since 1998. For some areas we have carried out repeat surveys and data is available in a range of resolutions.
  2. Composite LIDAR data
    The composite dataset is derived from a combination of our full tiled dataset which has been merged and re-sampled to give the best possible spatial coverage.

By making the LIDAR data open to all, users will be able to access it free of charge, even for commercial use. We hope that by removing any cost barriers, our data will improve the quality of flood risk modelling used by businesses and local communities and allow for the development of innovative tools and techniques to further benefit the environment.

Dr Alison Matthew is Geomatics Manager at the Environment Agency. She has  over 25 years experience working in operational remote sensing.

78 comments

  1. Comment by Matt posted on

    A good step forward in sharing content to everyone and driving development.

    Reply
  2. Comment by Alex posted on

    Excellent news! Will both the surface and terrain models be made available?

    Reply
  3. Comment by Jon Chandler posted on

    This sounds fantastic.

    Will the data include Bathymetry LiDAR data? (water penetrating - ie channel bed)

    Jon

    Reply
    • Replies to Jon Chandler>

      Comment by Environment Agency posted on

      Hi Jon

      We have passed your question to the author of the article and will reply once we hear back from them

      Regards, Jayne

      Reply
    • Replies to Jon Chandler>

      Comment by Environment Agency posted on

      Hi Jon

      Thank you for your interest. We would advise that the Environment Agency doesn’t hold any Bathymetric LIDAR data

      Regards, Jayne

      Reply
  4. Comment by Simon posted on

    Is it only English data that's being released?
    If so- why? And when might data for the rest of the UK be made available?

    Reply
    • Replies to Simon>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Hi, The Environment Agency will be providing LIDAR data for England. For Welsh LIDAR data the custodians are Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – please contact them, thanks

      Reply
  5. Comment by Andy Ketley posted on

    Wonderful news!
    You are setting the bar high for others to follow. Let us hope they accept the challenge. Free technology is the way to engage and motivate the smaller organisations among us.
    Thanks,
    Andy

    Reply
  6. Comment by Phil Lewis posted on

    Hi, in the email I just received about this excellent news and also above, am I correct to assume that this free availability is for England only and that other parts of the UK are excluded?

    Reply
    • Replies to Phil Lewis>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Hi, The Environment Agency will be providing LIDAR data for England. For Welsh LIDAR data the custodians are Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – please contact them, thanks

      Reply
  7. Comment by Peter posted on

    Is the data going to be available for commercial use? If so will it be free of charge?
    Thanks

    Peter

    Reply
  8. Comment by Caroline posted on

    This is fantastic news. For amateur archaeological groups this Lidar is proving invaluable and now being free will hopefully encourage other groups

    Reply
  9. Comment by Joe Rigby posted on

    Will it be possible to develop obj mesh files and textures from the data

    Reply
    • Replies to Joe Rigby>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Good Afternoon, You will be able to develop object mesh files and textures from the data if you have the appropriate software. Eileen

      Reply
  10. Comment by Pan posted on

    Will the ASCII files ,DTM + DSM be available please.?

    Reply
  11. Comment by andy seaman posted on

    Hello,

    Will data be available for Wales as well?

    Reply
  12. Comment by robert murphy posted on

    This is great news.
    Thanks so much for helping the government to increase UK productivity in the wider economy.

    Reply
  13. Comment by Abhi posted on

    Is LiDAR data available on datashare?

    Reply
  14. Comment by Rob posted on

    Hi, I'm trying to find the right files to download to use in MapInfo - which datasets should I choose? Everything I go for seems to be line data. Thanks.

    Reply
  15. Comment by Steve Malone posted on

    Exciting news, and I look forward to making use of it. When it arrives! As of 13.30GMT today there's still no sign of anything on Datashare, Geomatics or anywhere in data.gov.uk to point towards any actual open data.

    Reply
  16. Comment by Gijs Nijholt posted on

    Please release the raw LiDAR pointcloud as well. The Dutch govt did that and it's led to a couple of great projects and products by 3rd parties already.

    thx

    Reply
    • Replies to Gijs Nijholt>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Hi, LIDAR Point Cloud data will be released as open data and will be available by June 2016

      Reply
  17. Comment by Chris Little posted on

    Encouraging news. Were you aware that in a couple of weeks (14-17 Sept 2015), a new standards working group is being convened at the Open Geospatial Consortium Technical Conference, held at BGS HQ in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire?
    One intent is to agree global interoperability standard(s) for Lidar data in conjunction with ASPRS [http://www.asprs.org ]. See [http://www.opengeospatial.org/projects/groups/pointclouddwg ]. Interested parties can join the e-mail list at: [lists.opengeospatial.org/mailman/listinfo/pointcloud.dwg ] .
    I think there should be more representation from the Open Data community.

    Reply
    • Replies to Chris Little>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Hi, Many thanks for the information. Unfortunately we are not able to attend on these particular dates, however we look forward with interest to reading about the outcomes of the meeting

      Reply
  18. Comment by john malley posted on

    Is there a 'backdrop' map available to id the specific map tiles required once you open the portal ... currently it is just a set of blank grids. With the old site you could id the area geographically - now it just appears to be by postcode

    Reply
  19. Comment by Ian posted on

    Still no sign of a working site. Any news on what is going on and an etc when the service will be up and running?

    Reply
  20. Comment by Bharadwaj posted on

    Hi, is there any index file , extent file and source date file for "Composite LIDAR dataset"? I feel very difficult without having any such information. Is there any option for bulk download (Like
    FTP server path)?

    Reply
  21. Comment by lisa posted on

    The terms and conditions say we can't use this for commercial purposes. Is this correct?
    Regards,
    Lisa

    Reply
  22. Comment by stephen Gibson posted on

    Having data freely provided is great, however the other element is being able to see and use it on a productive basis for small flood evaluation projects, down to a single house domestic use.

    To afford maximum advantage both to the public and small businesses who cannot afford the expensive flood modelling programmes, is there advice on compatibility with the main international free open source GIS programmes - such as Mapwindow?

    A problem is you cannot limit the area wanted to a single grid section, instead you get 100MB of an entire area such as SP20. Is the idea that you the delete the sections outside the area interested manually or am I missing something?

    Reply
  23. Comment by Bob Garlant posted on

    Great news for amateur archaeology groups such as the one I belong to. Is there any particular software program needed to open and view downloaded files please?

    Reply
  24. Comment by Cain Hegarty posted on

    Hi, to echo Bharadwaj;s comment above, its there any document or file available that would give an indication of coverage extent?
    Best,
    Cain

    Reply
    • Replies to Cain Hegarty>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Good Morning Cain, A shapefile showing the coverage extent for each resolution of composite LIDAR data can be found on data.gov.uk . These can be found as a link on the second Resource Locator. Cheers. ^Eileen

      Reply
  25. Comment by Heather posted on

    Hi,

    Can the ASC Files be opened in AutoCAD 2015 (not Civils 3D). Or will they have to be converted first? I can't seem to find a way to view/import/open or convert them using CAD. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Replies to Heather>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Hello Heather, For more information on our LIDAR data and how to open it, please download the FAQ, which can be found on the LIDAR download page at http://environment.data.gov.uk/ds/survey#/download

      Reply
    • Replies to Heather>

      Comment by Alessandro posted on

      hello Heater,

      I am experiencing the same problem, trying to import lidar data into AutoCAD Map 3d 2016 though the Re Cap 2016. I couldn't find the answer in the FAQ. Have you solved the problem?
      Thanks

      Reply
      • Replies to Alessandro>

        Comment by daveferguson posted on

        Hello, Sorry that you are experiencing difficulties with the data site and that you couldn't find an answer in the FAQ. For technical queries regarding the Datashare portal, please contact ea-support@infoterra-global.com or 0800 912 1288, Many thanks

        Reply
  26. Comment by Jurgen posted on

    Which geoid model (height reference) has been used for the LIDAR data ?

    Reply
  27. Comment by Paul Evans posted on

    Hi there, is there any way of acquiring the metadata associated with the LiDAR data, i.e. what time it was flown, the vertical accuracy, etc.
    Thanks, Paul

    Reply
    • Replies to Paul Evans>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Good morning, Meta data for all of our LIDAR data can be found on data.gov.uk. ^Eileenhttps://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?comment_status=approved#comments-form

      Reply
  28. Comment by Richard Summers posted on

    Hello. Are you able to say when the datashare website will be up and running?

    Reply
    • Replies to Richard Summers>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Hi Richard, Apologies but the Datashare website was temporarily down due to essential maintenance. It is now available again. You can access it through the link in the blog above

      Reply
  29. Comment by Rafal posted on

    Hello, is there similar data for Scotland also available ?

    Reply
  30. Comment by Imran Hamblin posted on

    Hi
    I have downloaded all the DSM and DTM files that was available (thanks you very much). However I'm having trouble bringing them into ArcMap 10.2.2. The tiles dont seem to be georeference and end up in the complete wrong place. I'm fairly new to ArcMap so I'm probably doing something wrong. Any advice/help would be very much appreciated

    Reply
  31. Comment by John Aldridge posted on

    This data is fun to play with - thank you! Are you likely to be filling in the gaps where there is, at present, no data? If so, is there a schedule or plan for this?

    Reply
    • Replies to John Aldridge>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      Hi, thanks for contacting us. The Environment Agency operates an annual National Programme of LIDAR data capture which is used for, amongst other things flood mapping and environmental monitoring. The locations we survey are determined by the local needs and priorities for Flood and Coastal Risk Management, based upon where the greatest need is for up to date topographical data in any given year. These requirements are constantly being updated, therefore we are unable to publish a plan of future surveys. Hope this helps

      Reply
      • Replies to daveferguson>

        Comment by John Aldridge posted on

        I thought that might be the case! Thanks anyway for taking the time to reply.

        Reply
  32. Comment by Vivek Vaibhav posted on

    Hi
    Is there a way to know when the Lidar data was updated, or when the survey was done?
    Thanks

    Reply
  33. Comment by Lara Band posted on

    It's great that this is now open data. I can view the data at work as we have ArcGIS but wish to advise the amateur archaeology groups I work with how they can view the data if they don’t have GIS software. So: is Flickr the ONLY way to view the data if you don't have specialist software?

    I've seen the answer above "For more information on our LIDAR data and how to open it, please download the FAQ, which can be found on the LIDAR download page at http://environment.data.gov.uk/ds/survey#/download" and have read this document but would just like verification.
    Thanks

    Reply
  34. Comment by Stephen Ransby posted on

    What reason did you have for the low-flying aircraft over The Holme Valley in West Yorkshire last night?

    Reply
    • Replies to Stephen Ransby>

      Comment by daveferguson posted on

      As the Environment Agency’s remote sensing team it is our job to capture aerial survey data of England, which is used for flood risk mapping. Every year we survey thousands of square kilometres of England using LIDAR to produce detailed digital height models. The locations we survey are chosen based upon which areas are most at risk or where the greatest need is for up to date topographical data. Unfortunately due to operational constraints, many of our aerial surveys have to be conducted from an altitude of approximately 2,500ft above ground level and often at night. The altitude is much lower than a passenger jet, but is not as low as typical police or military flying.

      Reply
  35. Comment by Alex posted on

    Amazing work! That is the right way. Congratulations! Thank you

    Reply
  36. Comment by Tom Perks posted on

    The DEM of Pagham spit at the top of this page looks really cool - is it based entirely on LiDAR data? Or was multibeam data used for the offshore area? Also I really like the 3D effect - was this achieved using hillshade effects? Thanks

    Reply
  37. Comment by Laurence Harrison posted on

    Unfortunately after some extensive testing downloading a series of grids in order to produce a pointcloud I have found that the tile that is expected doesn't arrive, Instead I am getting files that are of a totally separate location. I have tried to download the TQ37 grid (which is shown over the Farringdon area). However once processed the Crystal palace park appears. I would of assumed that grid coding would correspond with OS grid system but they are entirely different to the grids shown the ordnance survey. Could you get someone to contact me in order to get the bottom of these issues?

    Reply
    • Replies to Laurence Harrison>

      Comment by kathrynbooth posted on

      We have been experiencing some problems with the download site in the last few days, it should be fixed now.

      Please let us know if you continue to have problems by contacting our technical support team on ea-support@infoterra-global.com

      Reply
  38. Comment by Keith Allen posted on

    I seem to have found a discrepancy between LIDAR data and the OS spot heights. At East 331053 North 431900 there is an OS spot level on a carriageway centreline of 7.6. The LIDAR data gives levels in excess of 8.5m for some distance in any direction. Nearby levels in OS and old OS shhets seem to bear out that 7.6 is in the right ballpark.
    Has the wrong file downloaded please? The file is SD3131_DTM_2M.ASC. I have checked against spot heights nearby in the same 1k square and have found other discrepancies - suggesting the wrong file? I am using a small in-house program specifically written to extract values for a small area to a csv file and have not had any problem at all in the past.

    Reply

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