The investment coordinated by the CRCSI through the CUDEM project has resulted in the implementation of an improved management model and governance of fundamental, national elevation datasets. Key outcomes from the investment include:

  • Insights into requirements for a comprehensive, national approach for the on-going acquisition, enhancement, and distribution of elevation data to address open access (beyond whole of government) issues and associated funding and licensing arrangements
  • Improved discoverability and access to elevation data via a national portal (
  • Development of consistent national guidelines for the collection and processing of high resolution elevation data implemented as industry standards which are seen as an international benchmark (
  • Coordinated acquisition and integration of approximately 100 individual LiDAR surveys covering over 200,000km2 of major urbanised coastal areas of Australia. These datasets are available for whole of government use through streamlined licensing arrangements - more info
  • Sea level rise communication products that have been widely accessed by governments, community and the private sector - more info
  • Demonstration of the benefits of developing the right partnerships that can support delivery of a robust technical approach that is responsive to the policy needs of government
  • Cost-effective delivery of models and communication products
  • Demonstrated robust capacity to support international coastal inundation risk mapping through the Pacific Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning program - more info

The CUDEM project demonstrated world best practice in elevation modelling, particularly at a continental scale. No other nation of comparable size has delivered coastal elevation modelling for all highly vulnerable areas in less than five years using the latest technology, with the highest possible resolution, and with a very modest budget. The scale of the project and its focus on innovation and efficiency enabled the final cost of modelling in 2012 to be around one-quarter of that when the project started. The project also helped create an industry that is more robust and competitive; that delivers quality assured product to meet national standards.

The CUDEM initiative has provided Australia with the information needed to better understand and manage the risks of coastal inundation from climate change and implement effective disaster mitigation. Such information greatly assists decision-makers in areas such as planning for example to protect infrastructure, as well as the insurance industry for risk assessment.

Web Access

The National Elevation Data Framework Portal provides access to over 20,500 sq km of elevation data for key Australian regions.  The portal allows users to search, discover, view, licence and access elevation data. Licensing has been negotiated to ensure on-going access across all levels of government and public good use.

Current Research

1 Performance of DEM Generation Technologies in Coastal Environments
How well do different technology derived DEMs perform in a range of coastal environments?  What is the distribution of their respective vertical errors?

2 Integration of Multi-Resolution DEMs
What are the user needs for differing resolution DEMs and what is the optimal process for developing DEMs of differing resolutions?   ...   This project produced a Demonstration software code which is available for download. Installation instructions are contained within the zip file and further information on the use of the code is contained in the main report.

3 Vertical Datum Transformations across the littoral zone
What is the best method to integrate land-based DEMs with near-shore bathymetric DEMs ?   ...   This project has developed a coarse Vertical Datum Transformation tool applicable to the Australian coast. The tool has been developed using currently available data. The project has published a paper in the Journal of Coastal Research.

4 User requirements for bathymetric data collectionand Bathymetry Acquisition Technologies and Strategies 
How useful is the near shore DEM derived from bathymetric LiDAR to modellers and what are the alternatives for collection of near shore bathymetry to meet the defined needs?   ...   The bathymetric LiDAR specifications provided below are currently under review by the ICSM Bathymetry Working Group. The document is used as the technical requirements for contracting bathymetric LiDAR surveys in Australia.  Bathymetric LiDAR Acquisition Specifications

5 The usability of Hydro-DEMs for modelling coastal and floodplain inundations

When is additional processing such as Hydro-enforcement and Hydro-conditioning necessary for DEMs used to model floodplain and coastal inundations?   ...   This synopsis summarises three research reports provided by Sinclair Knight Merz and Cardno. Request the supporting reports via email.

Project Participants

ANZLIC   -   Dept of the Environment (previously DCCEE)   -   Geoscience Australia   -   and many state and local government agencies

43pl   AAM   -   Akuna Consulting   -   Fugro LADS   -   Fugro Spatial   -   Geomatic Technologies   -   NGIS   -   RPS Mapping   -   Jacobs


graeme kernichDr Graeme Kernich
Deputy CEO