Progress made by Poland in preparation of technical specifications for the
second INSPIRE Spatial Data Themes Group, regarding DTM and
Prof. Zdzisław Kurczyński, Ewa Malanowicz, Jerzy Zieliński
Development of technical standards concerning databases, which constitute the basis of the
national land information system (NLIS) is connected with the obligation of implementing in
Poland the regulations concerning an infrastructure for spatial information, resulting from the
Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and Council, of March 14, 2007 (INSPIRE).
Databases established and run for the entire country in the ICT system comprise: state register
of basic control networks, gravimetric, and magnetic control networks, register of land and
buildings, network of land technical utilities, register of borders and surface areas of
administrative units, register of municipalities, streets and addresses, register of real estate
prices and values, registers of topographic objects and general geographic objects, of detailed
control networks, airborne and satellite imagery, as well as digital terrain model (DTM) and
orthophotomap. Technical standards for developing, updating and making available the
databases that are part of spatial information infrastructure shall constitute executory
provisions to the amended Act of law “Geodetic and Cartographic Law”. The technical
guidelines introduced in the 1990s by the Head Office of Geodesy and Cartography ( Polish
acronym GUGiK), pertaining to the execution of airborne imagery works and
photogrammetry, used when state administration organs commission works, have not been
binding so far.
Even at the beginning of this decade Poland remained not covered by technologically
advanced photogrammetric product, developed on the basis of airborne and satellite imagery.
After the period of changes of the political system, new commercial companies switched to
digital technologies, the Head Office of Geodesy and Cartography undertook pilot studies
concerning development of topographic database (TBD) with the accuracy and level of detail
corresponding to that of official topographic map in the scale of 1:10 000, including the
Digital Terrain Model (DTM) and digital orthophotomap.
Decisive was the decision to base the Land Parcel Identification System within Integrated
Administration and Control System ( IACS) on the digital orthophotomap. The structure of
broken up land plots (some 3 million farms and over 30 million land plots) enforces coverage
of the entire territory of the country with digital orthophotomap, in two standards:
- with 0.50 m pixel size , on the basis of aerial photographs in the scale of 1:26 000 (75% of
area of the country),
- with 0.25 m pixel size, on the basis of aerial photographs in the scale of 1:13 000 (25% of
area of the country, south-eastern part of Poland, with substantially broken up land plots).
Additionally in areas close to the border (eastern border of Poland) IKONOS satellite images
have been used, to develop orthophotomaps with 1 m pixel size.
From the images, DTM has been developed, with elevation accuracy, respectively of 1.0-1.5
m and 0.6 m.
In parallel to those works, TDB (topographic database) standard has been developed.
In a very short time Poland, from a country without coverage with products in modern digital
technologies, has changed into a country with good coverage in such products.
For two years now, we have been developing another five-year cycle of covering the entire
territory of Poland with digital orthophotomap. The borderline between the two standards
changes, towards wider coverage of areas in the 0.25 m standard. Photographs for those
studies, since the beginning of this year, are taken only by means of digital cameras.
Besides the two standards mentioned above, units of administration of the second level
(counties and towns) show interest and demand for developing of digital orthophotomaps
with higher resolution. Many units of local administration in Poland have been ordering
digital orthophotomaps with the resolution of 0.15 m for areas of districts (counties ) and
0.10 m for towns. Such projects are executed on the basis of photographs taken by means of
digital cameras. For some projects the resolution of 0.05 m is used (e.g. for modernization of
At the same time demand increases for accurate DTM, mainly for the purposes of flood
prevention (development of flood hazard maps and flood risk maps, required by the flood risk
directive). On the initiative of the Head Office of Geodesy and Cartography (GUGiK) work
began on the three-year project for covering over half the territory of the country with data
from aerial laser scanning (LIDAR).
Work upon regulations, which result from the implementation of the INSPIRE directive by
EU member states, became the opportunity for modernization of standards of products
derived from processing of aerial photographs, taking into consideration the above inland
demand and new technological possibilities, especially in DTM and digital orthophotomap.
Work carried out in Poland is in line with the recently started work concerning SPATIAL
DATA THEMES defined in INSPIRE directive (Attachment II and III), in particular in the
following topics: Elevation, and Orthoimagery (both from Attachment II). That work will be
continued until mid-2012 and shall be concluded by developing data specifications in
particular thematic groups. Participation of Polish experts in that work shall allow for
consolidation of country specifications with European ones.