3D not just a numbers game…

ArcGIS Pro 2D and 3D split view of Durham City trees, OS data and CyberCity3D data too
Lots of data, but the real power is combining the datasets 2D and 3D from multiple providers into one cohesive story

It’s not all about the numbers here! It’s also about the mix of datasets you use to do useful 3D analysis and make a compelling 3D web scene… I’ve been working with ArcGIS Pro and whilst I don’t think the product is there yet for most work I can see potential.

CE_Durham_ArcGISPro_3

Dragons8mycat welcome!

Nicholas Duggan and Elliot Hartley post Threeharescafe
Nick and Elliot post Threehares cafe

NEWS : GARSDALE DESIGN WELCOMES NICHOLAS DUGGAN TO THE TEAM AS OUR PRINCIPAL GEOSPATIAL SPECIALIST

My company Garsdale Design Limited just hired Nicholas Duggan (known as dragons8mycat in the social media world) he starts on Monday the 11th of January as our Principal Geospatial Analyst.  I’ve known him for a while and have even bumped into him on occasion at conferences (we are based in Cumbria and I don’t get out much).

Importantly we needed someone who was not afraid to experiment.  

His CV is impressive and we know he is technically very competent, it’s in part why we hired him.   To be honest though, it was his helpful nature on social media and his interests that are clearly in more than just the job in front of him, that really interested us.  What we needed was someone used to working on a variety of differing projects and able to use different software as appropriate.  Importantly we needed someone who was not afraid to experiment.  

consultancy you see is a wonderfully messy business

Consultancy you see is a wonderfully messy business, today I’m working on a major CityEngine 3D project (yes we do more than just training!), tomorrow I could be helping with some domestic architecture and next week I’m probably helping acquire satellite imagery and GIS data for a potential resort development in the Middle East.  We need more than just a focused specialist to help us.  

CityEngine tower analysis
Analysis of CityEngine models is important.

Nick has stated on twitter on a number of occasions that he has ‘room in his heart’ (okay he didn’t say that exactly) for opensource and proprietary software. Yes Garsdale Design is an Esri Silver Partner (and very proud of it too!) but our clients are varied and their requirements and budgets differ wildly so we have to be flexible.

here is a growing sense of urgency to prove that their investment in 3D is more than just a bunch of pretty pictures

Being able to create 3D urban models is one thing, to actual analyse what you’ve created is quite another.  Whilst our CityEngine clients love 3D and have focused on visualisation there is a growing sense of urgency to prove that their investment in 3D is more than just a bunch of pretty pictures.  3D isn’t trivial it has real-world uses beyond the gimmicky.

This year my focus, or should I say, our focus is twofold in the 3D space:

  • Developing more useful 3D analysis workflows
  • Testing out 3D hosting platforms for our CityEngine created models.

As you can see Nick will play an important role for us this year.   What next for this blog GeoPlanIT?  Well Nick will contribute to it but that doesn’t mean he will abandon xyHt or his own blog ‘The Spatial Blog‘.

Welcome to the team Nick, 2016 is going to be interesting.

CityEngine 2015.2

ce_2015_2

 

The latest release of CityEngine is out! For those using CityEngine on a daily basis I would recommend installing this as soon as possible.  Remember you can install multiple versions of CityEngine on the same PC.   Import/copy your existing projects into the new CityEngine 2015.2 workspace don’t just link to the previous workspace though.

Of particular interest to me was the improved KML support, it seems that I can export out from a scene in BNG to kml without positional errors now.  Also the new ‘dashboards’ feature is interesting, but you’ll need to rethink your reporting to make full use of this!

You can download the new release from your MyEsri account area as usual, but to read more about it click here.

Quick Tip: Blurry Fonts and Windows 10 (Picasa, ArcGIS)

win10fuzzy_00
Windows 10 fuzzy text, yuck!

Another of those quick blog posts where I write something down so I don’t forget! 

I’ve recently ‘upgraded’ to Windows 10 and I’ve found I had an issue with some ‘older’ programs having fuzzy fonts.  

win10fuzzy_01

There are two fixes to this:

  1. Right-click the desktop
  2. Click ‘desktop settings’
  3. Click the word ‘display’ on the left and you should see something titled ‘Customise your display’
  4. Use the slider to ‘Change the size of text, apps and other items’, mine was at 125% you might try scaling it back to 100%.

However the above method changes everything, what if you’re generally happy with the resolution and screen sizes but only see those fuzzy fonts on some programs?

The followings programs (so far) I have encountered fuzzy text which I was bothered about :

  • Picasa 3 (yes I know I’m a dinosaur)
  • ArcGIS (10.2+)

So instead of use the first method to change all the text I have done it per-program.

win10fuzzy_02

Use explorer to navigate to the ‘offending’ programs executable.  You can easily do this by right-clicking on the program on the start menu and selecting ‘open file location’.

win10fuzzy_03

Once there select the ‘Compatibility’ tab and checking the ‘Disable display scaling on high DPI settings’,  click ‘apply then ‘ok’.

You should be good to go!

 

Life Changer

Last Thursday evening at the CityEngine: Hollywood’s VFX Tool for Massive Cities event, I finally got to meet someone very important in my life.  How important? Well ‘life changing’ important, okay not like meeting my wife and kids, but to say this person is only a small part of my life story would be disingenuous.

Upon meeting this person I couldn’t help but rather embarrassingly tell them that I regarded them as someone who had significantly affected my life.  He looked embarrassed, he laughed awkwardly and generally I’m sure he thought I was quite mad.

So who was this ‘gentleman of significance’?  Well his name is Pascal Mueller and he is the creator of CityEngine.

I'm on the left, Pascal is on the right (in case you're wondering)
I’m on the left, Pascal is on the right (in case you’re wondering)

Yup if you have read this blog more than once now you get it.  Before I came into contact with CityEngine I was drifting aimlessly through a career from Geographer to Planner never quite at home with it but content nonetheless.  Then on a project I was working on using SketchUp I became massively lazy, many will recognise this levelness of lazy as the kind that makes you trawl the Internet for many hours, possibly days looking for a work around to a work process you have just got very tired of doing.

  • I found CityEngine.
  • I downloaded CityEngine.
  • After a few minutes of using CityEngine and reading up about it I realised this was a game changer.  No, really.

The rest is history, I’ve made a business out of CityEngine services and met a whole new generation of people getting interested in 3D urban modelling.  It’s opened the door for me in the emerging academic field of Geodesign.  I’ve been asked to speak at conferences about our use of CityEngine.  People now specifically seek out our company for advice.  Genuinely it has changed my life, it is changing my life.

The lesson here is simple: don’t think for a moment your idea for a software product is worthless, it may just change someone’s life and they may just thank you for it.

Thank you Pascal.

GUEST POST : BRINGING SPATIAL DECISION MAKING TO THE MASSES (EsriUC 2015)

Quick note from GeoPlanIT’s Elliot Hartley: Ruskin Hartley (yes my brother) attended this years Esri User Conference in San Diego on behalf of Garsdale Design Limited, I asked if he could write a couple of guest blog posts for us, this is his first.

esriUC2015_ruskin

Geography is everywhere.  Of course, being a geographer I would say that. But for many people geography means a list of state capitals and perhaps the atlas published by the National Geographic.  I’ve just come back from the 2015 Esri user conference in San Diego and saw first hand that this is changing quickly. While much of the discussion was about new software and tools, the most exciting change is the way these tools are deployed.

Just as Google maps has transformed the way we navigate our world (when was the last time you used a paper map?!), spatial decision support tools are transforming the way we understand the world around us and how we make collective decisions. GIS – geographic information systems – is the tool enabling this transformation.

GIS is not a new technology. It’s at least 40 years old in its modern incarnation and I’ve been using it for about half this time. Having just spent a few days at the Esri user conference, it is clear that the power of GIS as a decision support tool is on the verge of being brought into the heart of the public domain. It’s exciting and has the potential to transform the way we live, work, and govern.

A number of trends are converging to make this possible.

  • Data is being collected in real time and near real-time. Our GPS enabled smart phones are at the front line of this data collection revolution. They are being rapidly joined by an army of drones, and matched up with unprecedented satellite images being updated on a daily basis.
  • Data is shared and available 24/7 on the cloud rather than being hoarded on hard drivesFrom the latest Landsat image, to a live twitter feed, to projections of sea-level rise, we all have access to curated and constantly updated datasets.  Served up through a geoportal, you can quickly find what you’re looking for and know that you’re accessing current data.
  • Powerful GIS analysis and publishing tools are available online. I no longer need a UNIX workstation,  thousands of dollars of software, and an expensive plotter to conduct and share an analysis.  Using ArcGIS online, or one of the other freely available online tools, I can quickly publish and share work.

Bring these three threads together and real-time analysis is available to anyone. In the classic production cycle, experts would take weeks to conduct a static analysis that was shared with the decision makers as a printed map. There was no way quick or easy way to interact with the results. Most of your time was spent preparing the data, rather than conducing the analysis. In the end, the decision maker had to accept what the map said – or risk another lengthy cycle to change things up. It was the classic top-down approach.

Now, I can throw the data up a on a web-site — pulling data feeds from many different places — and give the users simple ways to explore and visualize the data. They can dig in and draw their own conclusions. Or I can walk them through a story map to help them understand what is going on.

This will fundamentally remake the way decisions are made. The environmental review process for development and land use projects can become interactive. Companies can understand spatial trends in real time. In essence, decision making will become democratized as everyone has access to relevant data and analysis.

Does this mean GIS professionals will whither away? Far from it! Rather than just being the folks you go to to make a map, they’ll be at the core of how we collaborate and make shared decisions. Sounds like fun to me!