An orthophoto of a beach, Source: Gobierno de Canarias

An eagle’s eye view over the Canary Islands

An eagle’s eye view over the Canary Islands

The new service of orthophoto imagery is now available for free viewing

Earlier this week, the Canary Islands’ Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Planning informed the public that it has updated the inventory of orthophotos of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and La Palma with the other islands’ images to be added in the coming weeks. These can be freely consulted by anyone by accessing the website of the Cartográfica de Canarias (Grafcan) public company.

What are orthophotos?

According to the authorities, the updated image inventory now covers more than 321,000 hectares of the archipelago’s terrain.

Many people, however, might wonder what orthophotos are. The government website explains that it is a geometrically corrected aerial photograph that, unlike an aerial image, can be used to make real measurements. This is because it is an accurate representation of the earth's surface, where distortions inherent in aerial images have been corrected. The snapshots have a resolution of 20 cm/pixel and have been created from digital flights and satellite images taken between July and December of last year.

The updated service, which is part of the 'OrtoExpress' tool of the Canary Islands Spatial Data Infrastructure viewer (IDECanarias), offers information on the frame used for individual orthophotos, flight dates, latitude, longitude and other data of interest.

Orthoimagery is essentially all about providing zoomable, realistic maps which are almost current, given that the shots were taken a few months ago and are in a way the best representation of the territory for anyone concerned, such as land developers and surveyors.

The main exponent of the strategy for the dissemination of geographic and territorial information of the Archipelago is SITCAN, which includes services and products on territorial information accessed through different web platforms, among which are the Spatial Data Infrastructure of Canarias (, the Territorial Information Sales and Download Service ( or the open data portal (



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