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 maximizes 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 area a number of ways to do this:

Option  1:

1. In ArcMap click the dropdown arrow next to the 'Add data' button.
2. Select 'Add Data From ArcGis Online...'.
3. In the new window search for SUDEM. Then simply select the SUDEM hillshade and click 'Add'.

Option 2:
1. In ArcMap 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'

3. Double-click 'Add WMS Server'.
4. Enter the URL pathname provided below to establish a connection and Click OK.
5. Double-click 'Hillshade of Stellenbosch University Digital Elevation Model on sungis08.stb.sun.ac.za' and click ‘Add’ to open it in ArcMap.

For those using QGIS:
1. Simply select 'Layer', ‘Add Layer' and then 'Add WMS/WMTS layer…'
2. Click on the 'New' button, then paste the URL below in the box that opens.
3. Give the layer a name e.g. 'Sudemhs' and click OK.
4. Click 'Connect', the layers will show in the box, select them and click 'Add'. 
5. The hillshade should be added to your QGIS display.

Product Details:

Resolution 5m
Vertical accuracy 2-15m (depending on area)
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



Below is a list of solutions related to this product


Reduced Flood Risk
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