Germany in 3D – Professional GIS Data for Everyone

First current, homogeneous and countrywide digital surface model (DSM) of Germany based on aerial data

The federal structure of the Federal Republic of Germany provides many advantages, but sometimes also disadvantages. This is the case in the field of geoinformation. State surveying offices are responsible for the information, and the Federal Office of Cartography and Geodesy (Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie – BKG) has a coordinating function. Although the BKG has data sets with height information of the earth’s surface in Germany, they can vary from state to state, as they are fed from different sources. These can be LiDAR or imaging data sets, which have different resolutions and were taken at different times. However, it is also the data that creates problems for federal authorities operating across borders: For example the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (Technisches Hilfswerk – THW), the German Air Traffic Control (Deutsche Flugsicherung – DFS), the German Armed Forces’ Center for Geoinformation (Zentrum für Geoinformationswesen der Bundeswehr – ZgeoBW) or the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Relief (Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz und Katastrophenhilfe – BBK). The BKG, as the geospatial data service provider of the federal government, takes on the task of providing the appropriate geoinformation. Until now, a consistent, high-resolution aerial data set containing height information of the earth’s surface, including vegetation and buildings was missing. To supply the missing data, the BKG had put out to tender the “Procurement of a Digital Surface Model (DSM)”, which had to meet high-quality requirements for the following parameters:

  • Accuracy of position and height
  • Accuracy of details
  • Currency
  • Licensing options for the federal government, federal states, the EU and international organisations

Based on the Europe-wide aerial imaging data set from the HxGN Content Program, Hexagon was able to provide the BKG with a Germany-wide DSM data set and matching orthophotos. In addition to the requirements mentioned above, Hexagon offers powerful download and streaming services.

Current worldwide coverage of the HxGN Content Program

Providing an 80 cm DSM for all of Germany

Until now, there was no homogeneous, countrywide Digital Surface Model (DSM) in Germany with a resolution of less than one meter. In addition to government agencies such as the THW, the ZgeoBW or the DFS, the data is also of enormous interest for companies such as telecommunication providers to expand 4G and 5G networks, for insurance companies, transportation agencies or utilities. In addition to the traditional users, the data is also necessary for new applications in the digital industry such as new solutions using artificial intelligence (AI), for self-learning machines or in the area of self-driving cars. With the DSM, Hexagon also offers image information (orthophotos) that correlate because they are generated from the same source. This is particularly important for AI applications because the rule sets must be consistent. In addition to the high data quality demands, the accessibility of the data is of particular importance. The HxGN Content Program offers powerful, cost-efficient solutions as well.

Roof shapes automatically extracted with AI – houses with flat roofs are marked in blue, houses with pitched roofs in red.

The HxGN Content Program

The HxGN Content Program, which was launched in 2014, provides high quality, up to date professional data at any time, anywhere and on any device. Due to different regional legal frameworks, the aerial imagery is currently available in Europe and North America. Local availability, resolution and currency of the data can easily be viewed online without the need for additional software. The HxGN Content Program provides orthorectified images which are updated according to predefined cycles and precisely defined point accuracies (15, 30 cm) and streamed based on current international standards. The streaming services are tailored to the needs of the customers. Data can be retrieved for a city or region, for a state or a whole country. The cost structure is completely transparent.

High quality multispectral (R, G, N, CIR) aerial images have to be captured using the best sensor technologies. Hexagon and its content partners only work with the latest aerial cameras from Leica Geosystems. The Leica Geosystems solutions enable the maximum capture of spectral data. Compared to satellite data, Hexagon’s aerial imagery offers better data consistency, higher point accuracies and aerial images that are completely free of atmospheric artefacts such as clouds or fog.

A homogeneous DSM, as required for Germany, is also of great interest for other European countries and pan-European projects. The HxGN Content Program provides the data to support such projects in a customer- and application-specific way.

Contact Michaela Neumann for a consultation.

DSM of the Moselle by Zell, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

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