The Netherlands in 3D – a 3D map on an open data basis

The 3D map of the Netherlands has been available from the Dutch Land Registry Office since 2014 on an open data basis. This map is intended as a basic file that institutions from across the public and private sector can use for their purposes, such as to link data to and run analyses. It can, for example, be used to assess and calculate how wind turbines affect the local environment in terms of noise, flows of air, and the shadows they cast, but also to assess their visual impact in the landscape.

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Innovation Overview

The Dutch Land Registry Office has a statutory task to register all land and property in the Netherlands, both in terms of who owns it and for topographical purposes. This information is recorded in the land register database and topography database, which anyone can access. Residents and authorities can retrieve land registry and administrative data, such as to be able to make a property portfolio policy and zoning plans or to get clarity on who owns what.

3D is necessary to be able to capture the complex reality in models as accurately as possible. More and more parties are switching to 3D, albeit almost always on a project basis and for and/or by individual users. Various areas have been captured in 3D models on several occasions, such as when different bodies procure 3D models from different providers. The idea behind the ‘3D breakthrough’ project is to put an end to this kind of fragmentation and make 3D geo-information available from one single source. In the dialogue between citizens, the business community, and the public sector, it is very important to have a shared frame of reference (a 3D standard). This will encourage knowledge building and developments around 3D, and it will produce cost savings, as one and the same 3D model is used by multiple parties.

As part of the 3D breakthrough program, the Dutch Land Registry Office developed a 3D map of the whole of the Netherlands, with scales ranging from 1:5,000 to 1:25,000 (2018). It is now even possible to make 3D maps with scales from 1:500 to 1:1,000. Development and further development of this 3D mapping capability happen in collaboration with scientific partners (Delft University of Technology, University of Twente), private-sector partners (CycloMedia, Esri, and early adopters ROM3D and Tygron) and public-sector partners (Dutch Land Registry Office). The map is created by combining existing 2D data with the Elevation Model of the Netherlands. This latter model of the whole of the Netherlands has a resolution of eight elevation points per square meter, measured from an aircraft using laser technology. Used by the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, water boards, and provincial authorities, this technology achieves such a high level of accuracy that it can measure the height of a curb. As a result, vertical surfaces, such as quay walls, can also be rendered. Houses are shown as blocks.

The 3D map is constantly under development. The Land Registry Office is, for example, working on adding roof shapes to the blocks that depict houses, and to add texture to buildings on a smaller scale. The elevation is measured using stereo aerial photography, whereby elevation points are derived from two photos taken from different angles. This means that the Land Registry Office no longer depends on the much lengthier update cycle of the Elevation Model of the Netherlands because elevation data is now derived from the same photos that are also used to obtain 2D topographical data.

The use of a 3D map and 3D models based on it makes it possible to better visualise and predict the effects of certain policy choices. This, in turn, allows governments to conduct sound, sunlight, shadow, wind, and air quality analyses or simulate flooding. It is now possible to see through a pair of 3D glasses how the building of a new block of flats will impact on the view from a specific resident’s garden.

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Year: 2014
Level of government: National/Federal government


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