Wednesday, 21 October 2015

England Makes 3D Data of the Entire Country Free

Laser scanning has helped England do everything from discovering new things about Stonehenge to planning better flood infrastructure. Now, the country has made the entirety of its massive trove of scans available for free—in part because of requests from everyone from researchers to Minecraft players.

All right, so it’s not just for Minecraft, though it’s very funny to hear that fans actually appealed to the government for LIDAR data to use in the game. “Minecraft players have requested our LIDAR data to help them build virtual worlds,” the Environment Agency writes, “the data could be useful to anyone creating realistic 3D worlds.”

It’s also for anyone who could benefit from a comprehensive, high-res model of the country, including archaeologists studying Bronze Age burial sites, scientists working on climate change, and urban planners.

In fact, England’s been making its LIDAR data available for a few years. But last month, it made the entire 11-terabyte dataset available for free through an online portal. As the government’s Environment Agency points out, “that’s roughly equivalent to 2,750,000 MP3 songs.” As Prosthetic Knowledge put it this week, “you can download a country,” for free, for any use you want.

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