21st March 2014

New building height attribute data released by Ordnance Survey


Ordnance Survey has announced a new supplementary dataset for its customers to use with OS MasterMap Topography Layer,  Building Height Attribute.

Customers of OS MasterMap Topography Layer can now access information on the heights of almost 20 million buildings across Great Britain in the alpha release of building height attribute. Released on 17 March 2014, OS MasterMap Topography Layer – Building Height Attribute is a product enhancement to OS MasterMap Topography Layer, and available to its licence holders at no additional cost.


Simple Building Heights sample


The alpha release covers some 8,000 km2 of the major towns and cities across Great Britain, providing customers with additional generalised attributes on building heights. From aiding with planning for ‘right to light’ policies in local government to enabling the utilities sector to plan for telephone or smart meter installation, there is a range of uses for the data. It can be used to make simple 3D visualisations of buildings and assist analytical applications across land and property, energy and infrastructure, public sector and financial services sectors. Future releases will enhance the coverage.

There are an amazing 19.625 million buildings in the towns and cities covered in the alpha release. Added together, the total height of all the buildings Ordnance Survey have calculated heights for comes in at 147,300 km – that would take you around the world about three and a half times.

The heights are calculated by a fully automatic process using remotely sensed data, including aerial imagery and digital surface and terrain models (the same that are used to produce the OS Terrain 5 and 50 products). Attribution is provided for the ground level, the base of the roof (which can be thought of as being similar to eave height) and the highest part of the roof for each building.

Ordnance Survey released this enhancement as an alpha primarily to get the data to customers as quickly as possible. However as an early step in the migration to enhanced 3D geometry, the release will also allow them to gather feedback from OS MasterMap Topography Layer customers to enable future development of height and 3D strategy.

For more information on Building Height Attribute please visit the website.