Wide-area bare earth terrain models now available through Vricon

sand castlesLast week, I watched my kids build a small sand castle on the beach. They created walls and moats and towers of various heights and shapes, and I realized that their creation was the perfect example of the features captured in a digital surface model (DSM), which basically shows everything that is built, placed, or growing on the Earth’s surface.

Then the tide came in. And all of those detailed turrets and fortified walls melted into the surrounding sands as the waves washed over them. After just a few wipes from the sea, the area that once held the magnificent sand structures had become a representation of a digital terrain model (DTM), a model of the bare earth.

I had DTMs on the brain because this week, our partner Vricon announced the availability of Vricon DTM, the newest addition to the Vricon Data Suite. This high-resolution, bare earth model is a game-changer in commercial elevation. Although we have long been able to produce high-resolution DTMs at DigitalGlobe, the Vricon offering features an automated production process, so models of large areas can be produced quickly and cost-effectively.

Vricon produces these DTMs by classifying vegetation and structures in a DSM, and then scraping those features out of the surface model, like waves over a sand castle. That means they can now provide a DTM that comes directly from a 50cm DSM with 3m absolute accuracy and global availability, without the need for ground control points. To learn more, download the Vricon DTM data sheet.

The below slider shows the comparison between a digital surface model (DSM) on the left and a digital terrain model (DTM) on the right:

I am excited to see how this new product changes how our customers use DTMs in their workflows when answering critical questions, and even in DigitalGlobe’s use of DTMs for orthorectification. But right now, I am most excited about getting back on the beach to help my kids rebuild that awesome sand castle.