Environment Agency makes LiDAR data open

Latest move in open data campaign encourages businesses and communities to build flood risk models

The Environment Agency is placing two sets of LiDAR data – an aerial map created by laser scans – into the open data realm as part of a move to encourage more third parties into flood risk modelling.

LIDAR_Paghm_aerialIt plans to release the full tiled dataset of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data gathered since 1998, and a composite set derived from a merged and resampled combination from the tiled set. The move is scheduled for September and they will be available under the Open Government Licence through the agency’s Datashare portal.

In an agency blogpost, its geomatics manager Dr Alison Matthew said it will be 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,” she said.

The move comes two years after the Environment Agency released the LIDAR data for non-commercial use, following which more than 1 million sq km have been downloaded. After the winter floods of 2014 it said it would make as much of its data as possible free of any charges and restrictions.

LiDAR data now covers 72% of England, mainly flood plains, coastal zones and urban areas. Its cost has fallen to the point that it now used by most people who work with maps, according to the blogpost.

The move adds more momentum to the open data campaign, following the announcement by Ordnance Survey in March that it would it make its OS Open Map of street level data freely available.

 

Image from gov.uk under Open Government Licence v3.0