As reported in Gizmodo, Minecraft fans actually appealed to the government for LIDAR data to use in the game and it seemed to help, but they are not the only groups. It’s also for anyone who could benefit from a comprehensive, high-res model of the country, including archaeologists studying Bronze Age burial sites, scientists working on climate change, and urban planners.
In fact, England’s been making its LIDAR data available for a few years. But last month, it made the entire 11-terabyte dataset available for free through an online portal. As the government’s Environment Agency points out, “that’s roughly equivalent to 2,750,000 MP3 songs.” As Prosthetic Knowledge put it this week, “you can download a country,” for free, for any use you want.
Since governments can’t be responsible for analyzing all the data it collects, it makes sense that they would open it up for public use. This is a growing trend: Minnesota has made its own LIDAR data available online, for example. Finland has made its data for some of the country available a few years ago, too, along with Switzerland and several other countries.