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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about UrbIS

1. Where can I download the UrbIS data?

UrbIS products can be downloaded free of charge, under Open-data licence, using a data download tool .
The UrbIS data can also be viewed:

Using one of the Web Services WMS, WMTS or WFS

2. What is the version of the UrbIS data I have just downloaded?

A new version of each UrbIS vector product is made available each quarter. The version date of the data is displayed on the download page.

The annual distribution schedule for UrbIS versions is as follows:

  • March
  • June
  • September
  • December

It is, however, very important to realise that the updating of the UrbIS data is a continuous process that very much depends on the speed at which the information managed by the competent services is sent to Paradigm. For example, the integration of an urban development plan into UrbIS will depend on how quickly the file is made available by the municipality to Paradigm.

Also, despite the use of a high-performance production environment, the route to be taken by a piece of information from the moment it is collected until it is updated in the UrbIS data may take time. As a result, discrepancies may sometimes appear between UrbIS databases and the reality on the ground. The UrbIS data that you view on the UrbIS-Online site or through the WebServices (WMS, WFS) are updated every week.

3. I would like to use the UrbIS data for a project; what are the constraints in terms of licences/usage rights/copyright?

The UrbIS®© data may be used free of charge, within the limits authorised by the Open-Data user licence (in french).

To use the UrbIS®© data, you must comply with the mandatory particulars defined for the use of the UrbIS®© products.

The user agrees to include the following message in any information, application programme or third-party product it is authorised to transmit to a third party, regardless of the type of carrier used to transmit the data:

« Réalisé avec Brussels UrbIS®© - Distribution & Copyright CIRB »


« Verwezenlijkt door middel van Brussels UrbIS®© - Verdeling & Copyright CIBG »


« Realized by means of Brussels UrbIS®© - Distribution & Copyright CIRB »

The above message should be accompanied by the 'UrbIS' logo. You can download the logo at this page.

Limitation of liability

The data presented through the UrbIS®© services have no legal value and are made available for information only. Paradigm cannot be held responsible either for damage caused by use that exceeds the informative framework of the data, or for inappropriate use or misinterpretation of the data and services.

You should first identify the UrbIS product that corresponds to the information you are seeking.

UrbIS consists of a set of seven distinct products:


The UrbIS-Topo topographical data correspond to a set of large-scale cartographical vector data constructed by photogrammetry from aerial photos and by topographical surveys on the ground. This product serves as reference for updating the other UrbIS products.


The UrbIS-Adm administrative database contains the main administrative subdivisions of the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region with which official codes have been associated. It is in this product that you will find addresses, buildings and roads, but also certain data of a thematic nature.


The aerial photos correspond to the large-scale stereoscopic aerial views of the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region taken during overflights of the Region.


The orthophoto plans are the result of corrective processing of the aerial photographs to eliminate distortions due to relief and perspective.


The vector database of parcels and buildings corresponds to the cadastral data made available exclusively to Brussels public bodies by the Land Registry administration.


The Digital Terrain Model (UrbIS-Digital Terrain Model) represents the relief of the natural terrain of the region  In 2012, Paradigm organised an overflight of the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region. On this occasion, a LiDAR survey was carried out using an airborne 3D laser. The LiDAR data (gross point plot with an average density of 32 points per m²) were then processed to generate a Digital Terrain Model (DTM). LiDAR data may be obtained on request.

For more information, we invite you to consult FAQ no. 8, or to read the complete UrbIS products documentation, accessible directly from the data download page.
To obtain this, click the link 'Documentation on UrbIS products':

In principle, cadastral data (UrbIS-P&B) are reserved for Brussels administrations.

As a reminder, cadastral data are the property of the AGDP (Administration Générale de la Documentation Patrimoniale - General Administration of Patrimonal Documentation of the Federal Public Service Finance).  The role of Paradigm is limited to disseminating/distributing the data.

However, users outside the normal framework (Brussels administrations) may obtain UrbIS-P&B data under certain conditions.

In some cases, access authorisation may be granted by the General Administrator of Patrimonial Documentation in response to a reasoned request submitted to him or her at the following address:

FPS Finance
General Administration of Patrimonial Documentation
General Administrator
Boulevard du Roi Albert II 33 box 50
B-1030 Brussels

The user must then send us the favourable opinion of the General Administration of Patrimonial Documentation and we will be able to grant him or her access to the UrbIS-P&B cartographical data. The procedure to follow is described in detail in a document entitled "Access to UrbIS-P&B data (cadastral data)" accessible on the UrbIS data download page.

Paradigm does not supply maps, but the basic layers or data for producing maps.

However, for each UrbIS vector product, Paradigm distributes files in the formats mxd (usable with the software of the ESRI suite) or wor (usable with the software of the MapInfo suite), which offer a default representation of the UrbIS map.

These files can be used as models, and display all the layers in the basic UrbIS symbology.

Here are the steps to follow to download them (here, example with UrbIS-Adm but it is also possible to obtain these files for the UrbIS-Topo product by following the same steps):

Finally, the UrbIS data can be viewed via UrbIS-Online or the WebServices and then using the export functionality to a pdf document.

There are commercial solutions (paid for) and free solutions, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Commercial solutions

Microsoft Access

Some UrbIS alphanumeric data are supplied in Microsoft Access format.

Microstation DGN

The DGN format is a proprietary graphic data format developed by the company Bentley©. In Microstation, the graphic objects of all UrbIS products can be linked to alphanumeric data. Data in DGN format can be consulted by the Microstation software, but also using software such as ArcView, Geomedia or MapInfo.

The data are physically spread across two types of file. Files with the extension 'dgn' contain graphic data. Files with the extension 'mdb' contain alphanumeric data in Microsoft Access 2000 format (.mdb).


The DWG format is a proprietary graphic data format developed by the company AutoDesk. Paradigm distributes the UrbIS data in DWG Design format. Data in DWG Design format are compatible with all Autodesk software.

When AutoCAD is used, the graphic objects can be linked to alphanumeric data. Data in DWG format can be consulted by the AutoCAD software, but also using software such as Microstation, ArcView, Geomedia, etc.


The shapefile format is a proprietary format developed by the company ESRI to store geographical and attributive information.

It can be used with the ArcMap program from version 8 onwards. Paradigm supplies configuration files (extensions 'lyr' and 'mxd') for all UrbIS products.

MapInfo TAB

The tab format is a proprietary format from MapInfo for storing geographical and attributive information. A map is composed of several entities that are displayed in a certain colour and visible for a certain scale range. This composition may be saved in a configuration file. The extension of this file is 'wor'.

Open-source solutions


IrfanView is a very fast, small, compact and innovative (for non-commercial use) freeware graphic viewer for Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, 2008, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8. It is free and offers the possibility of viewing raster files in the formats JPEG, MrSID, TIF, CADImage, DjVu, EaFsh, Ecw, Flash, JPEG2000, Jpeg_LS, PNGOUT, Postscript, etc.


QGIS is a user-friendly Geographic Information System (GIS) distributed under GNU general public licence. It is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial (OSGeo) foundation. It is free and compatible with Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, Windows and Android and integrates several formats: vector, raster, database and functionalities.


GeoServer is an open-source server written in Java that lets users share and modify geospatial data.


MapWindow is an extendable GIS, usable through ActiveX in Windows.


GRASS GIS is also known for having been the largest OpenSource geomatic project. It brings together raster functionalities (in particular classic modules for processing and analysing remotely sensed images) as well as vector functionalities (remember GRASS is a topology-based GIS). Available for Linux, Mac OS X, Unix and Windows.


gvSIG is a free GIS application developed in Java that allows access to data in GIS files (GML, SHP) or CAD files (DWG, DXF, DGN), to spatial databases (PostGIS, MySQL, Oracle) or server databases.


OpenLayer allows dynamic maps to be integrated into websites using a JavaScript library. With only a basic knowledge of JavaScript, tools can then be inserted to manage the dynamic map (layer management etc.).


PostGIS is an extension for the PostgreSQL relational database that allows spatial queries.


JUMP is a Java application allowing the use of WMS services or GML data files in accordance with the recommendations of the Open Geospatial Consortium.

    Source: Wikipedia

The precise meaning of each layer, symbol, code or acronym is described in the technical documentation of each UrbIS product.

The downloaded documents include:

  • The « Guide de l'utilisateur des produits UrbIS » (in French - also available in Dutch), which is intended to describe the essential key concepts of UrbIS on which the user should base himself for a thorough general understanding of UrbIS;
  • Documentation specific to each UrbIS product:
    • « Spécifications techniques des données cartographiques d'UrbIS-Adm » (in French - also available in Dutch)
    • « Spécifications techniques des données cartographiques d'UrbIS-P&B » (in French - also available in Dutch)
    • « Spécifications techniques des données cartographiques d'UrbIS-Ortho » (in French - also available in Dutch)
    • « Spécifications techniques des données cartographiques d'UrbIS-DTM » (in French -also available in Dutch)

You will find the data specifications in annex to each of these documents.

Certain data are not currently distributed through the site. For the time being, they can be obtained on request:

  • The LiDAR data: the files containing the filtered point plot in LAS format in version 1.2. The Brussels Region is partially covered. The areas of the Royal Palace situated on the Place Royale and the Royal Palace situated in Laeken are not covered. Each file corresponds to 1/4 of an area of one km²;
  • Old Orthophotos (1996, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2012);
  • Stereophotos
  • Old UrbIS vector data
  • ...

For all queries, send your request to IRISline (
As regards the vector data of old distributions, a project to archive the UrbIS data is planned for 2015, which should allow the user to download a differential distribution or a distribution on a given date.

A new version of each UrbIS vector product is distributed every quarter through the UrBIS dowload platform.

A new version of the UrbIS data that you view on the UrbIS-Online site or via the WebServices (WMS, WFS) is disseminated every week.

All the documentation can be found on the UrbIS data download site:

The link «Documentation on UrbIS products (content and meaning, technical specifications, data model, etc.)» refers to the technical documentation on the content and meaning of the UrbIS data (user guide, technical documentation for each UrbIS product, glossary, etc.).

Current system

In addition to quarterly distribution, a history of the UrbIS data is provided for users, in the form of attributes and dedicated tables (in Access).

Whenever an UrbIS product is distributed, an Access database containing the data history is created for each vector product (UrbIS-Adm, UrbIS-P&B, UrbIS-Topo and UrbIS-Map).

This database contains the alphanumeric information of all the entities of the UrbIS product in the form of a table for each entity. The table containing the data history has the suffix "_HIST".

This table comprises the same columns as the table whose history it contains, with the following extra columns:

  • CREATETIME: creation date of the record;
  • RETIRETIME: deletion date of the record;
  • OPTYPE: type of operation performed on the object (I = Insertion / U = Update / D=Delete);
  • MODIFICATION_TYPE: type of modification; this information is only calculated for records whose OPTYPE is "U". Here is the meaning of each value:




Alphanumeric modification


Modification of less than 0.1 m


Modification of less than 0.5 m


Modification of more than than 0.5 m

The other two fields used to archive data are as follows:


An identifier is associated with each UrbIS object when it is entered in the database. It is calculated on the basis of a sequence and never changes.


You will find the data specifications in annex to each of these documents. This is a numerical property associated with each UrbIS-Adm, UrbIS-Topo and UrbIS-Map object. The value of this property is unique and is modified automatically each time an operation is performed on a piece of data. Comparing this field between two distributions allows users to check whether the object has been modified between these two distributions.

Identifying modifications

The pair (ID, VERSIONID) allows users of UrbIS to identify those records that have been added, deleted or modified between two distributions.


As the current history is not fully utilised for various reasons, Paradigm is working on a new archiving system that is easier to use and more closely meets users' needs:

  • Respect for the life cycle of objects: uniqueness of the identifier, persistence rules of the identifier and new attributes in accordance with INSPIRE requirements;
  • Adaptation of the UrbIS-Download application to enable the user to download a differential distribution or a distribution on a given date;
  • Creation of a webservice that will include the "Time" dimension on the UrbIS data.

The implementation of this project planned for 2015 will allow the adequate and optimal development of UrbIS products to be ensured.

This future application will enable you very easily to identify those data that have been modified since the last time you downloaded the UrbIS data.

It is the vocation of UrbIS to distribute large-scale cartographical data.


The data of the UrbIS-Topo product represent topographical data in a very precise and detailed manner. The accuracy of the data varies according to the method of acquisition: photogrammetry campaign or geometric surveys. The accuracy of the UrbIS-Topo data is defined by accuracy classes (see "accuracy" column - FAQ 4). Thus, for example, the layer of rear façades of buildings (BB02L) belongs to accuracy class IV (accuracy of 10 - 20 cm), while the fencing layer (BF01L) belongs to accuracy class V (accuracy of 20 - 40 cm). UrbIS-Topo data may be used at 1/250.


The data of the UrbIS-Adm product are derived from the UrbIS-Topo data; the same level of accuracy is expected for these data. UrbIS-Topo data may be used at 1/500. UrbIS-Adm also contains thematic data that is more informative in nature (a school is represented on its address point). The accuracy of these data is difficult to determine, given the diversity of sources.


The accuracy of the data of the UrbIS-P&B product is not known, as these data come from the General Administration of Patrimonial Documentation. The UrbIS-Data service has no information on the accuracy of these data.

Digital Terrain Model

The DTM is distributed in a "Grid" format. Here, the value of each pixel is a real number corresponding to the altitude level.

The points were calibrated and adjusted in the Lambert 72 projection system.

The DTM presents a homogeneous ground resolution of 25 cm over the whole territory. The altimetric accuracy is 15 cm on average.


The resolution of the orthophotos varies according to the spatial coverage:

  • Regional orthophoto: 40 cm/pixel
  • Municipal orthophotos: 7,5 cm/pixel
  • Orthophotos per km²: 10 cm/pixel

From the outset, the vocation of the UrbIS-Adm map has been to serve as a reference framework for applications that use official codifications, whereas UrbIS-Map is mainly used as a thematic background.

Gradually, each product has developed according to the opportunities and the needs of users. These developments have allowed the intrinsic value of UrbIS to be strengthened. However, they have also made its use and updating more complicated. The duplication of some layers in different products, for example, has made the specificity of each product relatively vague.

Gradually, UrbIS-Adm and UrbIS-Map products have lost some of their coherence and complementarity. To improve the situation, it was proposed that the UrbIS-Adm and UrbIS-Map products be merged. The aim was to retain only the UrbIS-Adm product, into which most of the UrbIS-Map data would be integrated. Certain UrbIS-Map data no longer have a reason to exist, as they are over-abundant or available from from their authentic sources.

To prepare the adaptations, several key users were consulted within the context of a working group. Two meetings were organised during the second half of 2013.

The rest of the document presents the main changes. Most of the comments and suggestions from users were taken into consideration.

The technical documentation will be adapted in line with the model revision process.

Although their work is not complete, the new UrbIS-Adm model takes account of the adaptations recommended by the "BEST ADDRESS" project for addresses and the "BUNI" project for buildings and which are agreed on by the partners. These projects are being realised in the context of the implementation of the European Inspire Directive in consultation with the other two regions and several federal bodies, the main ones being the NGI and the Land Registry.

Summary table of all 'new model' UrbIS-Adm entitles







Limits of the Region




Municipal limits




Statistical districts




Monitoring districts




Postal areas








Police districts








All roads












Tunnels (railway/metro)




Bridges (railway/metro)








Geological layers




Lawns/grass strips/copses/water bodies




Street axes




Street sides








Road junctions




Address points




Address numbers




Postal addresses with a specific postcode




Areas of interest








Public highways


For more information, we refer you to our 'release note' document, which describes in detail the adaptations made to each UrbIS-Adm entity.

This document, entitled 'Release Note Distribution UrbIS 2015Q2',  is accessible through the 'Documentation centre' portlet:.

The INSPIRE Directive, INfrastructure for Spatial InfoRmation in Europe, requires Member States to put in place a tool allowing the geographical information of various institutions to be made available in a unified form.

The aim is to promote the availability, quality, organisation, accessibility and sharing of geographical information from the different Member States and in time to possess an interoperable database.

The INSPIRE Directive came into force on 15 May 2007. This directive concerns 34 topics of geographical information grouped into three annexes.

In the Brussels-Capital Region, the European INSPIRE Directive was transposed by the Geographical Information Ordinance of 23 November 2011.

The implementation of the INSPIRE Directive includes three mandatory major components, directly affecting UrbIS:

  • The development of metadata describing the conditions and restrictions of access and use, the responsible authorities, the quality and validity of the data concerned;
  • The development of implementation rules and the compliance of the data topics with these rules;
  • The five services defined and imposed by the directive:
    • Download service
    • Transformation service
    • Discovery service
    • Viewing service
    • Invocation service

The status of UrbIS in relation to these requirements is as follows:


The metadata sheets of the UrbIS data published are in conformity. The metadata sheets of the discovery and publication services are published but not yet in conformity. Sheets are accessible on the regional geoportal, in the «Catalogue» tab.


The correspondence of the INSPIRE "Data Specifications" must be studied for each UrbIS entity. This work is in progress. The European deadlines for compliance range from 2017 to 2020.


  • Discovery service: in place and in conformity and respect for the European deadline
  • Viewing service: in place and in conformity; respect for the European deadline
  • Download service: in place but not in conformity; failure to meet the European deadline
  • Transformation service: being studied; failure to meet the European deadline
Invoking service Invoking service: being studied; deadlines in 2017 and 2020.

Keeping the UrbIS data at a high level of quality is a constant preoccupation within the UrbIS-Data service.

To do this, several types of quality controls are regularly performed on the data.

Despite these controls being put in place, shortcomings, errors and inconsistencies are identified in UrbIS datasets, such as:

  • Systemic errors linked to the production environment, the configuration, etc.
  • Objects not up to date;
  • Data waiting to be integrated;
  • ...

Users often inform us of errors identified in the UrbIS data.

To channel requests, Paradigm has introduced an online form that allows users to describe the errors or discrepancies identified in the UrbIS data, then to send us this information directly.

Simply complete the fields, clearly describe the problem identified and submit the form. The information is received by Paradigm helpdesk, then automatically sent to our service, which carries out the necessary adaptations.

On this basis corrective actions are planned, according to the priority and number of updates to be performed.

Paradigm devotes significant resources to ensuring that the UrbIS®© data made available are complete, correct, exhaustive and up to date (see also FAQ 15). Despite these efforts, errors may exist in the data provided. Paradigm makes every effort to correct these.

Notify Paradigm at this e-mail address:  or, better still, use our online form.

UrbIS-SPW (UrbIS Search Public Way) is an application that lets you:

  • geotag a list of addresses
  • standardise a list of addresses
  • check the existence of addresses

This tool compares your list of streets or addresses with that of the UrbIS reference database, taking into account errors linked to phonetic transcription, missing words,
abbreviations, typing errors, etc.

UrbIS-SPW offers three processing modes:

  • Individual processing: the processing of a single street or address
  • Automatic collective processing: the processing of a list of streets or addresses present in a database of the user. For each street or address, the application automatically chooses the closest result. The results are saved in the user's database.
  • Automatic collective processing: the processing of a list of streets or addresses present in a database of the user. For each street or address, the application proposes a list of the closest results. The user manually selects a result from this list. The results are saved in the user's database.

The documentation and software can be downloaded from the UrbIS platform; choose: Dimension: 2D; then Product: UrbIS-SPW.

An online application "SPW-Online" (online processing on the web) is under development and will not be available before 2016.

Refer to the above information does not answer your question.

Mail your question to Iris Line (, which will refer you to the service in question.