Elevation & Depth Working Group (EDWG)

Digital elevation data which describes Australia’s landforms and seabed is crucial for addressing issues relating to the impacts of climate change, disaster management, water security, environmental management, urban planning and infrastructure design.

The National Digital Elevation Working Group (ESIG) was formed in late 2007 to offer technical assistance in the development of a National Elevation Data Framework (NEDF) for Australia.  The NEDF vision is to ensure that decision makers, investors and the community have access to the best available elevation data to address the needs of today and the decades ahead.

The primary role of the ESIG is to develop technical standards which improve the quality, utility and interoperability of elevation data to meet local, regional and national elevation data and information needs.

The ESIG Working Group involves experts from State/Territory and Federal mapping agencies, industry and academia.

Digital Elevation Data Guidelines and Specifications

In November 2010 ESIG released the LiDAR Acquisition Specifications and Tender Template, Version 1.0.  This is available in two formats:

In September 2011 ESIG released the New Zealand LiDAR Acquisition Specifications and Tender Template Version 1.0. Also available in both MS Word and PDF formats:

In recent years dramatic developments in LiDAR technology and industry capabilities have revolutionised our ability to address these issues at the local level.  However, inconsistent and diverse product specifications, and variable data quality are often making it difficult to integrate datasets to address regional, state and national issues.  In order to optimise investment and the utility of both existing and future data collections there is a need for a national base specification which defines a consistent set of minimum products which ensure compatibility across projects and States.

The intent of this specification and tender template is to improve on the quality, consistency, utility and compatibility of data being captured by government and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products increasingly being offered by the private sector.  Moreover, the specifications and tender template provide opportunities for greater collaborative investment across all levels of government, and capacity to reduce tender and compliance costs for investors and providers.

Use of these specifications will also ensure that primary LiDAR point cloud data and derived products can be easily integrated and ingested into the National Elevation Data Framework Portal (NEDF-Portal), providing increased discoverability and access to the broader user community.

The specifications have drawn on recent experience across all levels of Australian government, consultation with LiDAR data providers, and the U.S. Center for LiDAR Information, Coordination and Knowledge (CLICK).  They provide a minimum base specification and are not intended to limit development of more specialised products.  Nor are they intended to inhibit industry development and innovation. We therefore encourage interested users, investors, researchers and suppliers to contribute to ongoing development.

This specification builds on the previously released Guidelines for Digital Elevation Data, Version 1.0   (401KB).  The Guidelines represent a first cut in the preparation of ‘best practice’ guidelines for Australia using common technologies.  The Guidelines for Digital Elevation Data will be revised in the future to include the advances in understanding specifically relating to LiDAR included in the LiDAR Acquisition Specifications and Tender Template.

For further information on the NEDF and related initiatives please visit the Geoscience Australia site at http://www.ga.gov.au/topographic-mapping/digital-elevation-data.html.

These guidelines are considered a living document.  If you have any questions or comments on the guidelines please email the ICSM Executive Officer at icsm@ga.gov.au.

ESIG Terms of Reference

  1. Develop technical guidelines and standards for the acquisition, processing and quality assurance of elevation data
  2. Develop generic best practice ‘Statements of Work’ that may be used by agencies in developing project deliverables
  3. Liaise with ICSM committees and other appropriate bodies to optimise alignment of activities
  4. Facilitate national awareness of guidelines, best practice and standards