EsriUK AC 2016

2016-05-17 09.20.19Following on from GISWORX, another of my favourite geospatial conferences was the EsriUK Annual Conference at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster.  The venue was packed with probably over 2500 attendees.   Of course all the interesting sessions were packed with professionals trying to learn as much as they can about what people are doing in our industry.


It was a successful day for Garsdale Design, some of our older 3D work was shown in the opening plenary.  We then had our 3D visualisation work, completed using OS MasterMap and CyberCity3D data shown at the TfL’s presentation on the London Marathon road closures.

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Did I also mention we won an award for our 3D visualisation and 3DGIS work on a variety of projects for clients?   Well now you know!


GISWORX 2016 – 3D for Everyone!

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This is a post that has been in ‘draft’ for sometime, hopefully you have already read Nicholas Duggan’s write-up for GISWORX in xyHt, as well as Garsdale Design’s short blog.

Hopefully you know by now that I am quite found of the annual GISWORX conference hosted by GISTEC in Dubai’s prestigious Al Bustan Rotana hotel.  A gathering for 700+ GIS professionals from around the Middle East region is a fantastic place to learn and network with other GIS professionals.

don’t be fooled by the glitz of an app

What’s really striking about this conference is it’s ability to showcase a huge variety of public and private geospatial work from across the region and industry.   The UAE’s geospatial credentials are ‘second-to-none’ with each government department encouraged and funded to think digitally and innovatively.   Of course this means an app for everything, but don’t be fooled by the glitz of an app, because behind these is a complicated infrastructure driving back office systems and public engagement.  Anyone who has been to the UAE (and in particular Dubai and Abu Dhabi) will know that the sheer speed of development is dizzying and this means government needs to manage data carefully and quickly.3dThis year was the first time GISWORX had a special track devoted to 3DGIS called ‘3D for Everyone’, largely I’m proud to say due to the influence of Garsdale Design and our amazing friendship with GISTEC.  You may not have noticed but 3D technologies are undergoing somewhat of a renaissance with mobile and desktop hardware ever more capable combining with new web viewing technologies like WebGL.  This means massive 3D urban models can be streamed to anyone with an internet connection.  

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This has huge implications for GIS and planning departments.  The public expect mapping online, they also now expect their 3D visualisations to be game like and smooth.  Fortunately we can do this now.  My dear friend Kiran Kumar from GISTEC demo’d an amazing 3D streaming map on the Esri platform (ArcGIS Server + Portal) of Dubai, a couple of clicks later and this is an informative storymap for everyone to view.

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My involvement in the EGI awards committee again this year meant that I got to see some of the details about various departments and private organisation’s GIS work up close.  I can tell you that what people are doing in the Middle East in regards to GIS is world-class stuff.  The awardees all had strong entries and proved their capabilities for implementing large GIS based projects which had benefits across their organisations.


I was pleasantly surprised to be asked to host the awards ceremony too.  The EGI awards evening was lively and gave the Garsdale Design team (Nicholas Duggan, Kevin Wade and myself) a chance to socialise with data providers, GIS professionals, and decision makers.  

Garsdale Design’s workshops were well received I again conducted a CityEngine introduction ‘hands-on’ workshop and Nicholas Duggan presented on using ArcGISPro for wind farm development analysis (very cool!).  We also co-hosted the ‘3D for Everyone’ session with GISTEC, where I also presented a session on 3D 3D solutions for the world and a small session on Esri CityEngine entitled ‘Models and applications for the city of tomorrow’, which also gave some insight into the next release of CityEngine (2016!!).


At our booth we talked with many organisations struggling to understand what the new 3D software and hardware developments meant for them in regards to their work.   Much of the concern is based on a mis-conception that 3D is new and ‘just’ for visualisation.  Of course our answer was, 3D isn’t new, there are well established use cases for 3DGIS across many industries and that 3D visualisation is not a trivial component, in fact visualisation for many projects is a quick way of communicating information to people.

One other key conversation on many people’s lips this year was the drop in oil prices, which has far reaching implications across the region.  However whilst the consensus was that this year would be harder than most, there was still money to be spent on innovative projects especially in the geospatial sector.

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So as you can tell we had an enjoyable conference in Dubai, GISTEC did another amazing job hosting this again.  I look forward to next year! I’ll leave you with one final thought, of all the conferences we have been to, GISWORX has the best conference food out of all of them.  No dry sandwiches here, proper buffet hotel food cooked to perfection. Well done Al Bustan Rotana, Dubai!



Sub-surface 3D using Esri CityEngine


In case you didn’t know from our blog Esri CityEngine can handle many types of 3D, not just city data!  Here we are using the cool capabilities (additional layer control and bookmarks amongst other things) of CloudCities to control the geology layers.

OilRig DEMO from Elliot Hartley at Garsdale Design Limited on CloudCities.

ArcGISPro Animation Sedbergh3D

At Garsdale Design we’ve just got ourselves a Vimeo account for hosting videos.  In preparation for GISWORX 2016 we’ve been getting some demo videos together and I thought we’d share them with you!  

ArcGISPro’s new animation features are surprisingly easy to use and can give you some great results!  As per usual CyberCity3D buildings and Blue-sky International’s National Tree Map make an appearance.

Like this? Just wait till you see what Nicholas Duggan has done in ArcGISPro with our new mapping templates!

ArcGISPro and Environment Agency LIDAR OpenData

Just some screenshots of experiments I’m doing with the new Environment Agency LIDAR Opendata.  LASTools has been helping me a long the way too!  One thing I’ve noticed the press releases about the new point cloud data release all seem to show London… yet I can’t find that London data… Nevermind Liverpool is a better choice for me!

LIDAR data coloured purely by height
LIDAR data coloured purely by height
LIDAR data coloured by 'classification', this has some work to do I think!
LIDAR data coloured by ‘classification’, this has some work to do I think!


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.


Dragons8mycat welcome!

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


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.