ArcGIS Living Atlas

Maxar's Precision3D Available in Esri's World Elevation 3D and Hillshade Layers

ArcGIS Living Atlas provides foundational elevation layers that all ArcGIS users consume in their maps, scenes, and applications. Terrain3D provides a default global elevation surface in scenes whether you are using ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Online Scene Viewer. Similarly, World Hillshade provides a default relief background in various basemaps (such as Topographic, Terrain with Labels) that are available across the ArcGIS system. These layers are compiled using the best available datasets from open data sources, Esri Community Maps contributors, and commercial data providers. These layers in ArcGIS Online have just been improved by integrating Maxar Intelligence’s Precision3D data, which is the most accurate 3D representation of Earth available on the commercial market.

In 2018, Esri integrated Airbus WorldDEM4Ortho 24m in elevation layers and derivatives, which brought significant quality and accuracy improvements over SRTM 30m. WorldDEM4Ortho was a hybrid DSM/DTM product where buildings were removed in urban areas, but vegetation/forest heights remain. Though urban areas were flattened in WorldDEM4Ortho to provide a better surface for overlaying 3D buildings, in some instances, small hills in the urban areas were also flattened during the building removal process and the void filling/smoothing resulted in heights which were either more elevated or depressed than actual.

To further improve over WorldDEM4Ortho, we are excited to share that the Terrain 3D, TopoBathy 3D, World Hillshade and World Hillshade (Dark) layers are now enhanced with bare earth elevation data from Maxar’s Precision3D for parts of the globe. The Precision3D Digital Terrain Models (DTM) at 50 cm resolution are created by pairing Maxar’s extensive archive of high-resolution satellite imagery with the company’s patented 3D technology.

The first rollout of Maxar Precision3D includes large parts of Asia and Africa along with a few areas in Europe, North America, South America and Australia covering approximately 27 million sq kms area (~10.4 million sq miles) as shown below.

Maxar Precision3D coverage
Maxar Precision3D coverage

Let’s see a few enhancements in World Hillshade and Terrain3D with Maxar Precision3D in 50 cm. The 3D buildings in these examples are from Esri’s global building service, which is created from many data sources.

Small hills restored with Maxar Precision3D 50cm, which were flattened/smoothened in WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Singapore – Small hills restored with Maxar Precision3D 50cm, which were earlier got flattened/smoothened in WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
A hill about 94 meters in height overlooking Telok Blangah area restored with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Mt. Faber, Singapore – A hill about 94 meters in height overlooking Telok Blangah area restored with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
small hills were smoothened in WorldDEM4Ortho 24m but with Maxar not only those are restored but also provide finer details.
Uptown Cairo, Egypt – small hills were smoothened in WorldDEM4Ortho 24m while with Maxar not only those are restored but providing finer details
improvements over hilly terrain depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
Uptown Cairo, Egypt – improvements over hilly terrain depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
improvements over hilly terrain north of Jodhpur depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
Jodhpur, India - improvements over hilly terrain north of Jodhpur depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
Mehrangarh Fort on a hill depicted with Maxar Precision3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Jodhpur, India - Mehrangarh Fort on a hill depicted with Maxar Precision3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – details in topography over urban area in foothills depicted with Maxar Precision3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – details in topography over urban area in foothills depicted with Maxar Precision3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
improvements in 3D over urban development in the foothills depicted with Maxar Precision3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - improvements in 3D over urban development in the foothills depicted with Maxar P3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
improvements depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Mecca, Saudi Arabia – improvements depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
improvements in 3D around shrine depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Mecca, Saudi Arabia – improvements in 3D around shrine depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
small hills restored with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - small hills restored with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
improvements in 3D, where small hills restored with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - improvements in 3D, where small hills restored with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
a resort town in the Western Ghats mountains, in southern India's Tamil Nadu state depicted with Maxar Precision3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Ooty, India – a resort town in the Western Ghats mountains, in southern India's Tamil Nadu state depicted with Maxar Precision3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
improvements in 3D depicted in hilly terrain with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Ooty, India – - improvements in 3D depicted in hilly terrain with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m
suburbs north of Greater Mexico City depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to USGS 3DEP 30m.
Ecatepec de Morelos, Mexico – suburbs north of Greater Mexico City depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to USGS 3DEP 30m
improvements in 3D over hilly terrain depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to USGS 3DEP 30m.
Ecatepec de Morelos, Mexico – improvements in 3D over hilly terrain depicted with Maxar Precision3D 50cm in comparison to USGS 3DEP 30m
Amritsar, Punjab, India – old town areas around Golden Temple depicted in 3D with Maxar Precision3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m.
Amritsar, Punjab, India – old town areas around Golden Temple depicted in 3D with Maxar Precision3D in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho 24m. In WorldDEM4Ortho, whole area was bit elevated due to void filling/smoothing, while Maxar Precision3D provides better surface over mostly flat elevation.
Pollachi, India – bare earth surface (without vegetation) depicted with Maxar Precision3D revealing topography and hydro features in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho, which includes coconut vegetation heights.
Pollachi, India – bare earth surface (without vegetation) depicted with Maxar Precision3D revealing topography and hydro features in comparison to WorldDEM4Ortho, which includes coconut vegetation heights in this region

With the rollout of Maxar’s Precision3D, the elevation surface is closer to reality thus providing a better ground surface for 3D overlays and relief background.

Esri will keep improving the World Elevation Layers and derived information products with more high resolution content from Maxar, open data sources, and Community Maps contributors.

To see the coverage of various other data sources comprising the World Elevation services, check out the Elevation coverage map.

You can help in improving these services by contributing high-resolution elevation data to Living Atlas of the World. To participate and learn more, check out the Esri Community Maps for Elevation program.

About the author

Rajinder has more than 20 years of experience in GIS and Remote Sensing. In his current role, he leads the community elevation program at Esri and has wide experience in cartographic visualization, image processing, databases and geo-processing. Rajinder has developed a multi-directional hillshade (esriurl.com/NextGenHillshade) algorithm to improve terrain visualization in Esri basemaps. He has also developed a fusion technique (esriurl.com/NAGIfusion) which maintains details and colors when integrating colored rasters with hillshades. Rajinder holds a Master of Science degree in Geoinformatics and a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban & Regional Planning.

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