“The Barriers to Building 3D Synthetic Environments” at the Transport Systems Catapult

Last week I attended and presented on behalf of Garsdale Design at the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) 3D cities event in a foggy Milton Keynes.   This was a “one day opportunity to collaboratively identify challenges and showcase solutions” and “gain insight into virtual/synthetic testing for transport”.

TSC have been having a conversation with us about modelling 3D urban environments using procedural  technologies found in Esri CityEngine and integrating those models in Unity.    I have to be honest though, I was initially concerned about focusing on this negative idea of ‘barriers’ as all we see is opportunities here at Garsdale Design!  However, here was a gathering of people from a variety of industries who understood what it meant to actually make 3D city models and use them in commercial contexts. 

Presentations

The session had some key aims, firstly to understand what a variety of people were doing to create 3D cities, secondly to discuss some the hurdles or barriers of city creation (and publication) and lastly to have ‘round-table’ discussions to identify some of these barriers and how we might overcome them.   Have a look at who came and presented and you can see we had some very interesting presentations!

  1. Transport Systems Catapult : TSC current projects
  2. Future Cities Catapult : Use of environments for smart cities
  3. Satellite Applications Catapult : Satellite
  4. Mantle: Creation of game ready content from GIS data
  5. ESRI : 3D GIS
  6. Leica Geo Systems : Technology behind 3d Lidar Environments
  7. MK Surveys : Creation of 3d Lidar Environments
  8. Garsdale Design : The Art & Science of 3d Cities
  9. UCL : Intelligent positioning within 3d environments
  10. Rust Ltd : Creation of AAA quality game environments
  11. Imsim : Autonomous vehicle fleet management

The event started with an overview of who they were and what Transport Systems Catapult were working on and with.   Catapults as I see them are there to fill the void where companies like ourselves can’t explore or experiment with technologies.  With the best will in the world Garsdale Design hasn’t got unlimited resources to ‘play’ with all the exciting new technologies coming through! 

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Season’s Greetings

Okay I’ve been unforgivably silent on the blog for quite a while.  Work has got in the way and we’re planning at Garsdale Design something big for 2017! Stay tuned.

A Merry Procedural Christmas from Garsdale Design Limited on Vimeo.

In the meantime have a very Merry Christmas and a productive peaceful 2017. 

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.

TfL_38

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.

2016-05-19 10.57.27

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!

 

CityEngine 2015.2

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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.

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!

CityEngine and Bank Barns? Built Heritage meets Geodesign

BankBarns_01
Variant versus True Bank Barns in CityEngine??

 Imagination is required to use CityEngine, I’ve said this before and I say it a lot in our 3DPathFinder CityEngine training sessions (shameless plug).   The power of the rule file is in it’s ability to be used in other contexts and is often only limited by your imagination.  Some of what I think Geodesign is also about this, connecting up other peoples workflows, joining disciplines together to form a coherent team.

Take the humble rule that places a parapet around a roof top and places a satellite dish inside, this is the same rule that I use to make my infamous “procedural sheep”.  Get your head around that and the world is yours (in a metaphorical sense).

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What do you mean you haven’t heard about my Procedural Sheep??!

 

This leads me to a little rule file I adapted yesterday, my colleague and friend Matthias had created a couple of rule files for a client (Philadelphia University’s Geodesign course).  One rule file coloured a surface depending on the steepness of a slope, which clearly when drawing a path or a road can be useful.  The other rule file was one that placed arrows facing down a slope in a grid pattern, think about water run-off and this is cool, useful stuff.  

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