News

3D mapping enables better regional hazard, infrastructure planning

$19 million has been allocated in co-funding from the Provincial Growth Fund to enable extensive 3D elevation mapping of New Zealand’s regions.

“Detailed elevation mapping of our regions is vital to unlocking the economic development of our regions. It will allow councils to more efficiently plan and develop housing, road and water infrastructure, as well as better prepare for hazards such as flooding, landslides and erosion,” says LGNZ Vice-President Stuart Crosby.

Utilising technology known as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), the data is collected by aircraft using airborne lasers to collect millions of height points, which are turned into 3D models of both the earth’s surface, including buildings and vegetation, as well as the underlying bare earth.

Coordinated by Land Information New Zealand, LiDAR far surpasses traditional topographical maps and Google maps, creating highly accurate 3D models, giving planners greater certainty.

“The funding announced today smashes the affordability problem that stopped smaller councils from investing in the topographical scans,” says Mr Crosby. “It means we will be able to extend LiDAR mapping beyond the main centres, making it cheaper for both the private and public sectors to access high quality elevation data to enable better decision making.”

Of particular interest for regional councils is the ability of the data to provide better information for environmental management.

“The data will be particularly useful for the primary sector, as it will allow for better understanding of impacts on our water catchments. It will also provide improved detail of soil mapping for better nutrient management, and comes with a much cheaper price tag than costly field surveys,” says Mr Crosby.

“In short, it means regional and provincial New Zealand will be able to tap their natural capital in smarter, more sustainable ways, and is another example of how the Provincial Growth Fund is helping to unlock the nascent potential of our regions.”