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Three-dimensional modelling of buildings for the benefit of municipalities and citizens

In the next few years, the National Land Survey of Finland will produce data in which buildings in Finland are presented as 3D images. Municipalities can use this 3D building data for land use planning, and citizens for deciding on where to install solar panels, for example.

Esimerkkikuva rakennusten 3D-vektoreiden laserkeilausaineistosta

The data is generated by laser scanning technology where a laser scanner attached to the bottom of an airplane scans the earth, the raw data is processed into a point cloud, and 3D geometry is produced from it to the database Vector building information can be enriched with other point cloud materials, which can be presented in different shades depending on what other information the point cloud represents - for example, terrain or vegetation in addition to the building information.

Laser scanning is a technology that produces accurate 3D data on terrain, its shapes and the objects on top of it. The mapping information produced by laser scanning is called a point cloud.

In 2020, the accuracy of the laser scanning data improved and a denser scanning cycle was adopted when a new national laser scanning programme was launched.  Point density increased tenfold: from 0.5 laser points per square metre to 5 laser points per square metre. Finland is now laser scanned every six years, except for the northernmost part of Lapland.

Finland has once been laser scanned from head to toe

The National Land Survey of Finland requires data from laser scanning to maintain its topographic database in order to keep maps and elevation models up to date. Basic geographical data, such as laser scanning data, the elevation model, topographic data, and basic positioning data, are utilised in rescue services, national defence, agriculture and forestry, as well as in the field of construction and the environment, for example. The new laser scanning data will help in finding out forest resource information and in land use planning in cities, for example.

The National Land Survey of Finland laser scanned every region in Finland once in 2008–2019. Existing, yet more inaccurate (0.5 laser points / square metre) laser scanning data is available to everyone and can be downloaded from the file download service.

Dense material requires a licence

From the point of view of overall security, the Finnish Defence Forces and the National Land Survey of Finland agreed that new dense scanning data will not be distributed as open data. However, the data is public - its use requires the approval of the terms of use.  The terms of use can be viewed and the data order formfilled out on the National Land Survey of Finland website . The licence is subject to a fee and is granted for an area of 3,000 square kilometres at a time, which corresponds to an average of one production area per year.

New material is constantly being created as open, freely available material when the 0.5-point density version is thinned from the dense material.

The costs of the national laser scanning programme are shared by the National Land Survey of Finland, Metsähallitus, the Finnish Food Authority, the Finnish Forest Centre and the Finnish Environment Institute.  The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Environment are also involved in the cooperation body KALLIO that manages the national laser scanning programme.

The location of the areas to be laser scanned and the progress of the scanning flights can be seen on the status map (in Finnish) of the National Land Survey of Finland website.

Further information

Heli Laaksonen, Head of Cartography, tel. +358 40 098 8243,

Laser scanning

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