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Digital Surface Model (DSM) captures the vegetation and built features together with the land. In comparison, Digital Elevation Model (DEM) captures only the bare-earth raster grid. For example, man-made constructions including powerlines, bridges, and buildings and vegetations aren’t included in a DEM, but they are included in DSM.

DSM can be applied in aviation planning, urban planning, utilities, and telecommunications. For example, Feiyan has just done a 60,000 km2 forestry investigation project that helps local forestry department understand local forest encroachment. The project used RIEGL VQ-1560i sensor to obtain billions of LIDAR points cloud reflected with varying elevation values. Those point clouds could be reflected from the top of buildings, vegetations, and bridges. Therefore, a continuous DSM model could be generated from the point cloud.

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