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DEM data – adding depth to your geospatial analysis

With traditional maps and GIS software commonly presenting their information through a two dimensional medium, it is often easy to forget that the world they are representing is not flat.  Let us take the following area as an example:


Now let us consider some of the information that could be recorded for the above area.  Some simple examples would be delineating and labelling roads, recording land use or mapping structures.


Let us imagine we were interested in selecting a site for a shopping centre.  We are interested in a sizeable area that has good road access, and has no pre-existing use to minimise clearing costs.  At a quick glance an almost ideal looking location can be selected near the centre of the area.  It is located at the junction of two large roads, and seems devoid of buildings or forests that would need clearing.

One might believe that you have found an ideal location, and jump on the oppertunity to move forward with your project.  There is however a problem – the area is not as flat as the above maps would have you believe:

Demsa2 Rast

In fact, this entire seemingly flat area exhibits a roughly 50 metre elevation change.  Although this is a simple example of a potential use-case for elevation data, it does serve to highlight how topography is often under-utilised when conducting spatial analysis.  Unfortunately, this is due to the high financial and time cost of surveying or drone mapping.  Open-access elevation datasets, such as the commonly used SRTM-30, are also often of too coarse resolution to be of much use, especially for small-scale applications.

For example, have a look a the comparison between the SRTM-30 in contrast to our medium resolution SUDEM product and high resoltuion DEMSA2 product:


GeoSmart’s suite of elevation products offer high-resolution elevation data that is not only available on demand, but also available at a fraction of the cost of other products or solutions.  Available in a variety of both elevation raster and contour formats, our data is compatible with just about any software.  We also aim to provide clients with a flexible set of options such that orders can be taylored to almost any use-case.


Feel free to get in touch with us to hear how our data can help you bring depth to your spatial analysis.

Published on 2020-09-29.

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