Estonian Land Board Uses RIEGL VQ-1560i Airborne LiDAR Mapping System for Nationwide Coverage

The Estonian Land Board, a government agency that recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, has performed airborne laser scanning since 2008. During that time the agency has completed three rounds of elevation data collection for the complete coverage of the Estonian territory. In the last round which started in 2017 the Land Board used the RIEGL VQ-1560i Dual Channel Waveform Processing Airborne LiDAR Scanning System for High Point Density and Ultra-Wide Area Mapping. The system is mounted into a Cessna Grand Caravan 208B aircraft and is operated simultaneously with an aerial camera system.

RIEGL VQ-1560i mounted into Cessna Grand Caravan 208B

The VQ-1560i scanner was acquired because of its high data acquisition capabilities and good scan pattern. This system has enabled to cover the whole country with 2.1 p/m2 elevation data. In urban areas the point density is even higher being at 18 p/m2.

The Estonian Land Board uses the airborne laser scanning data for its mapping activities and also generates different map products based on that data.


Country Wide Elevation Model:

DSM and nDSM Elevation Models:

In detecting possible flood areas:

Forestry applications:

Higher point densities in urban areas also allow for 3D modelling

This data has also enabled Estonian Land Board to map the high points of the country better. Here it should be noted, that Estonia is a relatively flat country and the highest hill Suur-Munamägi is 317.4 m. And that is the highest point of the three Baltic countries!

Suur-Munamägi, the highest point of Estonia (318 m)

One quarter of the hills are artificial (mining) and they are constantly changing. This new data helps to design the distribution of the mining extracts/waste better. The data will be updated every four years.

One of the many artificial hills in Estonia: The height of the hills is always changing due to the open pit mining operations.
Also an artificial hill: Kiviõli Adventure Centre is situated at the former Kiviõli oil shale mining site. In winter the 90 m hill is used for skiing.

Something curious: The latest measurement campaign has also revealed a change of the height of natural hills. E.g., the highest point, Suur-Munamägi “has grown” almost 20 cm. This is because Estonia updated its height system to the EU standards. Previously the 0 sea level height was measured from Kronstad (BK77, Kronstadt sea-gauge zero-point) which is an island near St. Petersburg, Russia. Now the height 0 level is Amsterdam (EH2000, Normaal Amsterdams Peil).

The data is freely available as open data from the Estonian Land Board’s geoportal (

Map products which are generated from the point clouds, e.g. shaded relief, DSM, can be viewed in the agency’s map portal X-GIS2 (

About RIEGL:

RIEGL is an international leading provider of cutting-edge technology in airborne, mobile, terrestrial, industrial and unmanned laser scanning solutions.

RIEGL has been producing LiDAR systems commercially and focuses on pulsed time-of-flight laser radar technology in multiple wavelengths.

RIEGL’s core technology, the digitization of LiDAR signals (“Waveform LiDAR”), provides unique methodologies for resolving range ambiguities, multiple targets per laser shots, optimum distribution of measurements, calibrated amplitudes and reflectance estimates, as well as the seamless integration and calibration of systems.

RIEGL’s Ultimate LiDARTM 3D scanners offer a wide array of performance characteristics and serve as a platform for continuing Innovation in 3D for the LiDAR industry.

From the first inquiry, to purchase and integration of the system, as well as training and support, RIEGL maintains an outstanding history of reliability and support to their customers.

Worldwide sales, training, support and services are delivered from RIEGL’s headquarters in Austria; main offices in the USA, Japan, China, Australia and Canada; and a worldwide network of representatives.

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