I have a specific need, which is to do as little coding as possible to transform the dataset that you recommend to a format that our software can use.

We want to divide Europe (possibly, later, the world, but let's stick with Europe for now) into 30 arc-second cells, with 100x100 cells for one degree.

For each of these cells, we need the highest elevation above sea level for anything at all in that cell, to a one metre resolution.

I would imagine that I will find datasets with far too much data, and would like to make it is simple as possible to reduce that to what we want. I will code a Python script to do that.

I would guess that it would be simplest for me to parse a dataset with fewer data items – I do not need to know that names of towns, or where rivers or airports are, just the height of each point in the dataset.

A bonus would be if there exists a Python module to parse the data format of the dataset, but I can code it myself if not. Otherwise, simpler formats, like CSV or XML are preferred over more complex formats.

Any dataset MUST be freely available of commercial use and must NOT require us to publish our source code.

[Update] I can find a few datasets, and also the Google elevation API (https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/elevation/start), but I can't find a dataset which gives me the highest point in each 30 arc-second cell :-(

  • 1
    I think you're going to have to "downsample" by yourself by using the "too much data" and finding the highest points yourself, sorry. If you need help, feel free to contact me directly (contact info in profile), but I see this as more programming than actual data, though gis.stackexchange.com mgiht be able to help.
    – user3856
    Sep 20, 2016 at 17:45
  • If I get stuck, I will certainly conatct you. So far, I have discovered that the data are in Shapefile format (whatever that may be), and that there are several Python modules for accessing it, so that I "only" have to extract a series of lat/long/height (somehow).
    – Mawg
    Sep 20, 2016 at 18:21
  • If you go to usgs.gov, you should be able to get the data in point format down to a few seconds of arc. I didn't know the data was available in SHP format-- if that works better or you, you can use ogrtools (google for it) to convert it into a format that might work better.
    – user3856
    Sep 20, 2016 at 18:58
  • Could someone with magic admin powers move this to gis.stackexchange.com? Seems like a much better fit there: they know what SHP files are :)
    – user3856
    Sep 20, 2016 at 18:59
  • Please don't - they sent me here :-)
    – Mawg
    Sep 20, 2016 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


I think you may find European DEM data useful. It can be retrieved with this link : http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/eu-dem

This not really Open Data, rather free data that needs you to mention you used it, but I'm unsure I understood exactly what you need, because you mix the need for data and the need for extracted info from your data.

To find the highest point, you will need to generate a grid vector layer, then perform some zonal statistics, but this is more of gisstackexchange area if i'm correct.

To read and process the data, you can use QGIS Open source software.

The EU-DEM is a 3D raster dataset with elevations captured at 1 arc second postings (2.78E-4 degrees) or about every 30 metre.

All three datasets are made available as tiles (5x5° or 1000x1000km) and as single files: - EU-DEM in ETRS89 geographic (EPSG code 4258) - EU-DEM in ETRS89-LAEA (EPSG code 3035) - Colour shaded relief image over Europe in ETRS89-LAEA (EPSG code 3035)

The datasets are encoded as GeoTIFF with LZW compression (tiles) or DEFLATE compression (European mosaics as single files).

  • regarding being not really open data...its not automatically disqualified from open data if citation(s) are required. actually, that is rather expected, at least in my world. expected, in the sense that even if the publisher does not require it, I am going to cite them. open data is worthless if it cannot be reproduced/remixed, etc.
    – albert
    Sep 23, 2016 at 17:35
  • 2
    I was unsure what scope was covered by OD SE, so i prefered to be cautious concerning licensing matter. It seemed to me also that Mawg was having a confusion between open data and open source in his question :)
    – gisnside
    Sep 25, 2016 at 4:59
  • I was indeed - is there a definition of "open date"?
    – Mawg
    Aug 7, 2018 at 7:02

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