The National Urban Digital Elevation Model

Under a COAG mandate, the Australian Government’s Department of Environment selected the CRCSI to develop a high-resolution (15cm vertical accuracy) Digital Elevation Model (DEM) along Australia’s urbanised coastline, covering some 200,000km2.

The aim: improve Australia’s preparedness and resilience in the face of climate change and rising sea levels. First, a science case was built, which was validated independently through a public review, coordinated by the Australian Academy of Science. This case articulated the solution to the technical challenges faced by the creation of a seamless DEM. Over 200 organisations participated in the program and the resultant database is now publicly available and administered by Geoscience Australia. Derived maps have received over 300,000 downloads and the coastal risk portal has had over 130,000 users to date. The work spawned follow-on acquisition training and education programs in five Pacific countries. It has won several awards including the 2015 UN Lighthouse Award at the Paris Conference Of Parties for innovation in elevation data standards, data acquisition, data fusion, distribution and public use and widespread impact nationally and internationally.

Moreover, the CRCSI and Geoscience Australia established a framework to coordinate ongoing development of digital elevation data for Australia, known as the National Elevation Data Framework. The CRCSI conceived this framework.