LUCAS Lot 1 survey


JBA LUCAS Lot 1 Survey site locations around Dublin
LUCAS Lot 1 Survey site locations around Dublin

During the 2018 summer, 20 land surveyors across the United Kingdom and Ireland will be undertaking the LUCAS survey. LUCAS stands for the Land Use and Coverage Area frame Survey. Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (EU), has commissioned this survey every three years since 2009 to identify land use and land coverage change in the EU and we have undertaken the survey in both 2012 and 2015.

The challenge was to undertake an in-situ survey for over 15,000 LUCAS points. A further 7,000 points would require photo interpretation within the office.


In late 2017, we were successful in winning the Lot 1 LUCAS survey for the United Kingdom and Ireland. The survey itself collects information on the following:

  • Land cover and land use
  • Land management
  • Water management
  • Grassland
  • Erosion
  • Soil
  • Photographs of the point location and in the four cardinal directions
  • Additional photographs of Grassland and Soil.

Faced with the task of assessing the land cover and land use at over 15,000 locations. we quickly made the decision to configure GISmapp – our iOS site data collection tool.

GISmapp allowed us to quickly generate the data collection forms, meeting Eurostat’s specification and requirements and allowing for consistent data capture. This was also the first LUCAS campaign where Eurostat made an Application Programmers Interface (API) available, which means we could further configure GISmapp to send the data directly to the central LUCAS database.

JBA LUCAS Lot 1 Images from a survey site uploaded into GISmapp
LUCAS Lot 1 Images from a survey site uploaded into GISmapp

In late March 2018, the data collection commenced and to date we have surveyed over 8,000 LUCAS points, which equates to over 35,000 photographs.

In addition to the Project Director, Project Manager and Deputy Project Manager, the LUCAS Lot 1 team includes 20 Surveyors, five Quality Controllers, one Grassland Specialist and one Central Coordinator. Training was provided externally by two staff from Cranfield University. Software development and support was provided by five staff from our system, software and data team. So, in total a 37-people strong team!

Deadline for completing the survey element is December 2018, with the project completion in June 2019.


The project is benefiting from our Research and Development investment in GISmapp, which is providing a consistent and efficient data collection service. Data is instantly synchronised to the GISmapp server and data is transferred to the central LUCAS database on demand, usually at the end of each survey day. This contrasts with previous campaigns, where most of the data were captured on paper, the data could take days or weeks to be transferred to the central LUCAS database.

The project outputs provide the United Kingdom and Ireland’s contribution to harmonised and comparable statistics on land use and land cover across the whole of the EU’s territory – a total area of just under 4.5 million square kilometres (km²). The survey has become a key tool for policymakers and statisticians alike, with increasing amounts of data on different forms of land use and land cover in the EU.

Want to know more?

For more information on this project email Robbie Cowan for queries relating to the LUCAS survey and Stuart Wallace for queries relating to GISmapp. You can also find out more about the LUCAS project on the Eurostat website where you can download the 2015 data for your own analysis. The 2018 data will be published in late 2019.

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