The value of digital terrain models for mining, agriculture, hydrology and other terrain dependent work cannot be under estimated. While TanDEM-X will add valuable information into the marketplace, it is not the only data provider of high quality digital terrain models. Fugro, Intermap, Spot Image, GeoEye and others are similarly providing terrain model products.
Machine guidance systems are directly dependent upon high quality digital terrain models. Using GNSS these guidance systems not only locate positions in 2D (latitude and longitude or x, y)but they also connect the machinery operations to a 3D reference, which is greatly improved for accuracy depending upon the known terrain surface characteristics.
Other CAD based software used for building roads and infrastructure also connects to high quality digital terrain models.
It is expected that housing and architectural operations will come to include 3D terrain data more fully. This will lead to the inclusion of higher quality visualisation, animations and even better gaming software based on more realistic scenery in some cases.