I'm a real estate agent in the Finger Lakes region of Central New York. Sometimes my clients want a house with a lake view.

I am considering commissioning someone to build a map of all the nearby properties with a lake view, however before I even try to commission someone I'd like to know if what I ask is even possible, and how (in simple terms) it would be done, maybe color-coded by how good the view is?

It seems like this would be difficult in part due to obstructions like trees, structures, etc.

I don't know anything about GIS / ArcGIS / QGIS.

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    I’m voting to close this question because if you are trying to commission someone to build a map for you then your question is effectively an advertisement and off-topic for this site.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 28, 2023 at 7:05
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    @Matt I have edited and reopened your question. I feel it still leans close to advertising but I've attempted to shift it more toward a gis principle question rather than asking for someone to do some work. I have left the original vote-to-close comment for background
    – Midavalo
    Oct 28, 2023 at 16:48
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    What you need is a high resolution Digital Surface Model, probably an image derived from LIDAR measurements (raster surface interpolated from point cloud). Read this for background: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_elevation_model If there are no such data available, there are commercial companies that offer remote sensing with drones, so depending on the budget you have, that might be an option. See also the links the above Wikipedia article, e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Lidar_Dataset_(United_States)
    – Babel
    Oct 28, 2023 at 16:52
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    With the necessary data, you can then perform a viewshed analysis: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viewshed_analysis
    – Babel
    Oct 28, 2023 at 17:00
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    See e.g. orthos.dhses.ny.gov/# where you have different layers/data for download for Finger Lakes area as well: i.stack.imgur.com/cuWZT.jpg
    – Babel
    Oct 28, 2023 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


I think you would need a very high resolution digital surface model (DSM) or 3D model and run some kind of Line of Sight 3D analysis tool.

How 'good' the view would be a qualitative assessment, not sure how that could be achieved.


It is one of typical GIS analysis - line of sight - which can be pre-computed on the layer of buildings. You can have even interactive web app using e.g. Arcgis JS Line of sight widget.

The problematic part is exactly what you have mentioned - good enough data - high accuracy, completeness, relevancy - that is what you are certainly looking for in real estate market.

I had a quick look at Google high accuracy 3D tiles and unfortunately they do not cover at this stage the area you have mentioned - Finger Lakes. They do cover Rochester up to about NY State Thruway 90.

To conclude it would still be possible to do the analysis, best using high detail digital elevation model (DEM) which I believe is available for that area as open data. And layer like OpenStreetMap 3D Buildings & Trees. But honestly from my perspective the results using these layers would be only indicative.

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