How can I get the height values of buildings from a certain sector a city without going into the field to collect data? Is there anyway to do via satellite imagery, SRTM, ASTER GDEM or any DEM for that matter?

One mention, this is not an US city or a city that has free LIDAR data (it is in Romania).

  • 1
    If you want to go that route, what you'll need is a digital Surface model (DSM), not a digital terrain model (DTM). See also: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/5701/… - Further, satellite imagery will all be FAR too coarse; i.e. SRTM is ~30metres per pixel, so most buildings simply won't show up (plus I believe it's a DTM, not a DSM). Jan 5, 2015 at 12:30
  • Hey Jonathan. Thanks for the info, that cleared my mind pretty much, however I still don't know where to find DSM.
    – Geosphere
    Jan 5, 2015 at 12:39
  • That I can't help with I'm afraid. I don't think there are that many freely available DSMs out there. Maybe someone else can help on that score. Jan 5, 2015 at 12:41
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    Another option is to look at stereo extracted DSM from Worldview or GeoEye satellite imagery. Here is a reference that will be useful: Aguilar, M. Á., del Mar Saldaña, M., & Aguilar, F. J. (2014). Generation and quality assessment of stereo-extracted DSM from GeoEye-1 and WorldView-2 imagery. Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on, 52(2), 1259-1271.
    – Aaron
    Jan 5, 2015 at 15:25
  • @sepideh, Woah. Thank you. I would really love to join the discussion, but I'm not really sure how you've made your judgement about me as you consider me an expert. To be honest, I'm far from being an expert but I will submit my contributions to the discussions.
    – Geosphere
    Aug 31, 2015 at 9:07

2 Answers 2


For getting DSM or a DTM some countrys have thier own DSM for free, for example in Spain is this page www.cnig.es, and you can download for free the DSM and DTM but only for Spain. Search if your country have similar system.

  • Thank you for commenting. I've searched and unfortunately, as far as I know, Romania doesn't have such a service. You can find DTM/DEM for free but nothing related to buildings etc. like in a DSM.
    – Geosphere
    Jan 5, 2015 at 12:47
  • I dont know for sure, but de DTM includes the buildings and the DEM dont (or viceversa) if the pixel is little you could get only the buildings... but its a long shot :S
    – Gsanez
    Jan 5, 2015 at 12:53
  • Alright, I wonder in this case whether ASTER has it or which could have it? Which DTM's are you referring to?
    – Geosphere
    Jan 5, 2015 at 13:01
  • Would it be possible to get some data from Google Earth?
    – Geosphere
    Jan 5, 2015 at 13:09
  • could be an option... but you must contact with google in romania and check if the want to ser the info with you... And the other question, in my courses one of the teachers says that the Digital terrain model is all the terrain + threes and stuff and the Digital elevation model is only the elevation whitout all the interferences of buildings... or can be viceversa... dont know for sure :S So, if you can delete the info of elevation you will get some aproach of the buildings...
    – Gsanez
    Jan 5, 2015 at 18:59

Using OpenStreetMap you can compute the building height through some tags on buidings. As you can see there is an extrusion in Bucharest (and whole world) in this 3D simulation: http://demo.f4map.com/#lat=44.4379244&lon=26.1004697&zoom=18. Note that the accuracy of the height of buildings is random and some buildings does not have height relative tags.

You can download the entire country data using http://planet.openstreetmap.org or GeoFabrik

Then use a GIS for extracting all theses tags. The spatial database H2GIS can help you to load and process a bzipped file of openstreetmap country. However it requires the spatial sql skill. You can use the GUI frontend OrbisGIS 5.1 in order to manipulate the database.

  • That's quite an interesting solution. I didn't knew you could do that. Accuracy, would be second step after actually having the method.
    – Geosphere
    Apr 27, 2015 at 12:01

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