Tuesday, February 10, 2009

3D GIS is Easy

Image courtesy of Dan Campbell, City of VancouverIf you thought 3D was hard, think again. Maybe a different point of view would help.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a seminar entitled “A New Dimension in GIS – 3D Analysis”, hosted by the British Columbia Chapter of URISA, in which a half-dozen speakers shared their 3D GIS experiences and insight during this one-day event.

Convergence: The opening keynote presentation by Doug Eberhard (Senior Director, Autodesk) set the tone of this event by providing us with an eye-popping vision of the future in which the convergence of design, geospatial analysis, simulation and visualization are fuelling the emerging business of digital cities. According to Eberhard, at the heart of digital cities are models. These models range from model agencies and model designers to model contractors and model operators. These models allow us to examine our world in new ways –ways that can help us become a model planet.

New Perspectives:
Dan Campbell (Manager, Graphics and Communications, City of Vancouver) discussed the City’s experiences, gathered over the last 20 years, in working with 3D models. In fact, it was Campbell that said, “3D is Easy; it’s 2D that’s hard.” His point was that we live in a 3D world and no-one needs to teach us how to interpret this 3D world. And yet, when we work with infrastructure designs, architectural plans and maps we force our 3D world into a 2D abstraction. According to Campbell, this 2D abstraction for the non-professional is equivalent to trying to read hieroglyphics - misinterpretation and lost meaning is often the result.

Integration: Dale Lutz (Vice President, Safe Software) explored the topic of integrating CAD, Building Information Modeling (BIM) and geospatial data and discussed the role of CityGML, Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and LandXML in the creation of 3D models. Various integration scenarios were also presented including the use of 2D CAD buildings with LIDAR to create 3D extruded buildings and the use of 3D geo-referenced BIM.

Key Takeaway: For me, one of the key takeaways of this seminar was that 3D GIS is about making it easier for the users of the information and not the CAD and GIS gurus. It’s about an easier way to analyze, visualize and communicate information about our 3D world. The boundaries between design, visualization and geospatial analysis are blurring. And yet, it’s the people and processes and not the technology that remain obstacles in realizing the vision of 3D digital cities. Data integration and an open, non-proprietary approach continue to be at the heart of the solution.

Until next time...


Dale said...
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Dale said...

Great summary of the day Mike, I thought it was very informative and well done overall. I've linked my latest blog posting about 3D and geospatial over to your summary of the URISSA BC day.

Michael Schlosser said...

Thanks, Dale, for your feedback and link. I reviewed your latest blog entry and was interested to read your report about the two firms resorting to redrafting as a way of exchanging data between them - wow - talk about an interoperability problem!

outofhere said...

Nice report. That is a beautiful image. Is that a Landxplorer model?