5 m Stellenbosch University Digital Elevation Model (SUDEM)

The Stellenbosch University Digital Elevation Model (SUDEM) is a 5 m resolution digital elevation model (DEM) – a database of height above mean sea level records – representing the earth’s surface. The 5 m SUDEM, branded as SUDEM5, is currently the highest resolution DEM covering South Africa. It was interpolated from large scale (1:10 000 and 1:50 000) contours and spot height data, producing the so-called “Level 1 product”. The Level 1 product was used to fill the voids in the 30m Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) DEM, after which the two DEMs were fused using a patented weighting scheme that favours the SRTM DEM in areas of moderate terrain (i.e. where contour and spot heights densities are low). This resulted in a DEM that maximises accuracy.

GeoSmart is responsible for the distribution of SUDEM5 and oversees its continual improvement.

Examples of where SUDEM5 has been used include:


Terrain index extraction for soil modelling

Satellite image pre-processing

Land component mapping


GeoSmart has also used SUDEM5 in several products, including the Flood Hazard Index and the DEMSA2.


The hillshade of the SUDEM5 product is available for free online use. There are several ways to do this:

In your browser:
Go to https://sungis10.stb.sun.ac.za/sudemhs

In ArcMap:
1. Click the 'Add Data' button. 
2. Click the ‘Look in’ drop-down arrow and navigate to the 'GIS Servers'. This will provide a list of servers you have previously used.
3. Double-click 'GIS Servers'
4. Double-click 'Add WMTS Server'.
5. Enter the URL pathname provided below to establish a connection.
6. Click OK to add the server and return to the ‘Add Data’ Dialog.
7. Double-click on the new server - ‘GeoServer Web Map Tile Service on sungis08.stb.sun.ac.za’
8. Double-click on the layer 'hillshade5_sa' to open it in ArcMap.
9. Note that some versions of ArcMap do not read the extent of the WMTS layer properly, and load it as a tiny spec on the centre of your screen. Zoom in to see.

In ArcGIS Pro:
1. On the ‘Insert’ tab, click the ‘Connections’ drop-down and select ‘WMTS Server.’
2. Enter the following URL: https://sungis08.stb.sun.ac.za/geoserver/gwc/service/wmts? Click OK.
3. A connection to the WMTS server has now been added to your ‘Catalog’ pane (usually to the right of your map). In the ‘Project’ tab of your catalogue pane, expand ‘Servers.’ Expand ‘Geoserver Web Map Tile Service on sungis08...’  and again expand ‘Geoserver Web Map Tile Service.’
4. Right-click on ‘hillshade5_sa’ and select ‘Add to the current map.’ The hillshade should now load. Zoom in to see it.

In QGIS 3:
1. Simply select 'Layer', ‘Add Layer' and then 'Add WMS/WMTS layer…'
2. Click on the 'New' button, then paste the URL below into the box that opens.
3. Give the layer a name e.g. 'Sudemhs' and click OK.
4. Click 'Connect'. The ‘Tilesets’ tab should open. Select ‘terrain:hillshade5_sa.’ Click ‘Add’ and ‘Close.’
5. The hillshade should be added to your QGIS display.

Product Details:

Resolution 5m
Vertical accuracy 3m (90 percentile) and 2m mean absolute error
Horizontal accuracy 10-30m (depending on area)
Format TIF, IMG, or Geodatabase
Current coverage South Africa



Order size Price/unit
Per square km (min order of 300kmrectangular area) R20.00
Per 1:50 000 map sheet (e.g. 3318dd) R7,500.00
Per quarter degree square (e.g. 3318d) R18,750.00
National R1,000,000.00

* Note that 15% VAT will be added to the cost for South Africa based clients. 

* R500 processing fee will be added if contours are requested.

Below is a list of solutions related to this product


Reduced Flood Risk
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