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National Survey of Finland Opens LIDAR Database

I received a notice from Jouko Vanne that the National Land Survey of Finland had opened all of its topographic data to be used free of charge. He noted that, “In the beginning, the freely available data will particularly benefit application developers, map enthusiasts and organisations using geographic information.”

It appears that the actual LIDAR point cloud data is available for certain regions of the country. This was used to produce a 2m DEM.

I found this to be a very impressive example of what “can be” in terms of the work of a national survey agency and of the management of geospatial data. One can only dream of what we could do with the right leadership and support.


  • It can be a bit tricky to find the data as not all areas of Finland are covered yet. Zoom in, for example, around Helsinki for some really nice LiDAR tiles. Note that the files are provided exclusively as LASzip compressed LAS files (i.e. in the LAZ format) which – according to the Ilves Risto who is responsible for organizing the LiDAR data for open access – compacted the total data amount from around 3.1 TeraBytes down to 475 GigaBytes. You can download the (de-)compressor at or – better – directly work with the compressed LAZ files using FME 2012, Global Mapper, TopoDOT, LAStools, and a few other software packages.

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