Digital Elevation Models: A Guidance Note on how Digital Elevation Models are Created and Used


The cost of creating DEMs can be significant, often running into millions of dollars, due to their diverse and extensive utility. The use of DEMs is abundant in spatial analyses. As such, a clear understanding of the range of DEM types and applications, their operational requirements, and pros and cons of each model is important before deciding whether to acquire existing data or commissioning a new survey. Having robust background knowledge can help plan the optimal DEM acquisition.

This Guidance Note, created by the Lidar Working Group, aims to compile such knowledge in one publication and thereby address all pertinent topics of DEM creation and use, including a workflow to facilitate the best way to plan a well-informed DEM-mission or proposal, primarily aimed at non-specialists. Given the technical nature and complexity of the subject, this Note points out specific sections and key tables to simplify the reader’s ease-of-use and navigation. Readers who are interested in the more technical aspects of DEMs should refer to publications such as Maune (ed.) (2007).

The Lidar Working Group consists of Louise Croneborg, Keiko Saito, Michel Matera, Don McKeown, Jan van Aardt.