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CityEngine 2017.0 now released

CityEngine 2017.0 now released

Okay so this came sooner than I thought it would and just in time for the Esri UC in San Diego next week! 

If you are a CityEngine user this is a very good release with key improvements that will make our lives easier when working on projects.  If you’re thinking about working with CityEngine for the first time this is a good release to come in on, and you can come to us for one-to-one training to get you started!

CityEngine 2017.0 has now been released and you can download it from your ‘My Esri‘ area, alternately you can grab a 30-day free trial here.

I’ve not got time to give you a run down of all the new features and interface improvements that have gone in to this release, but you can read my blog post on the beta release I was using here.

I can give you a key some key highlights though:

  • A user interface refresh
  • Scenario based planning and custom dashboards
  • Local edits for procedural models
  • Measurement tools
  • CGA neighbourhood queries (more advanced occlusion queries)
  • Improved import and export functionality including unit information for FBX exports. Also KML can export multiple models to SketchUp.

You can read more on the release here: “What’s new in CityEngine 2017“, or skip straight to the release notes here.  Or even better than that skip to the changelogs on the CityEngine help pages

EsriUK Annual Conference 2017

EsriUK Annual Conference 2017

Last Tuesday (16th of May 2017) was the much-anticipated yearly geospatial event from Esri UK.   Their Annual Conference has gone from strength to strength and the venue has been at capacity for the last two years now.

I love the EsriUK conference and being based in Cumbria having an event where I can get to see all the people we work with in one location is fantastic (although I quite enjoyed EsriUK’s Perth event too!).   It used to be I went for the presentations I now go to have meetings and keep the personal connections I’ve developed through social media going.  

Plenary

The opening plenary was interesting and focused (quite rightly) on the significant achievements Esri have made in developing their platform.  I cannot comprehend how complex the process is of developing a cloud presence and slowly (it feels slow to me at least in regards to stability & memory issues) developing the new ArcGISPro application whilst still maintaining the existing and well used product suite of ArcMap, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene.  I guess that’s what they use our licence and maintenance fees for!

What I noticed this time was what I have been saying for a while and told people about back in 2009 (when I started using CityEngine): Esri needs to be invested deeply in 3D to compete in the new and merging industries of ‘smart cities’ and ‘BIM’.  All their competitors are there and coming for the GIS users too.  Fortunately is Esri doing this now.  

EsriUK’s live demo this year was walking around with a GeoSlam device getting a laser scan of the venue, to fly around and measure in ArcGISPro.    Unfortunately I felt this demo was a little limited in scope this year.  We’ve worked with point clouds in ArcGISPro and whilst good there are still some issues so perhaps that’s why it was not as ‘wow!’ for me.

Looking at all their applications, it is truly crazy how many 3D capable products Esri have developed.  Yet amongst all these amazing tools, all too often, I am still meeting people who wonder what they’re going to do with these 3D technologies….

Shameless plug for our new GD3D® brand….

The obvious answer is ‘well first you need 3D data’, and that’s what Garsdale Design’s new project, our GD3D brand, is all about.  Acquiring 3D is still like acquiring satellite data in the early days, difficult and expensive, however I will write more on this soon because it doesn’t have to be.

Post plenary there was plenty of people to talk too, but I did manage to get to see a few presentations:

Mapping London’s 2050 Infrastructure Growth

Dr Larissa R Suzuki  gave a great presentation into the challenges Transport for London were facing managing development and maintenance of their infrastructure.  The mapping systems they are implementing to identify what activity is taking place in the same location (think development and road works etc..) at the same time are fantastically useful.  Let’s hope this kind of technology use gets adopted nationally not just per authority.

A journey through the airport

The Manchester Airport Group have a place in my heart, as I am a big fan of Manchester Airport to be honest.  Small-ish airport in the scheme of things owned by local authorities but punching well above its weight in terms of the region it serves and the places you can fly to.  I can get a train direct from Oxenholme straight to Manchester Airport and be in Dubai or major hubs in the USA really quickly.   Their talk by Vickie Withnell was very interesting, showing us a 3D animation of the next phase of expansion of Manchester Airport basically 4D or construction management.  As one commentator on the Esri AC app put it a “video’ gantt chart”.   Obviously being able to manage data through time and integrate your process with the planning and consultation elements of their business has paid dividends.   Vickie should have received a stand ovation for saying that their planning application for a new arrivals terminal at Stansted only took 13 weeks (supposed target processing time for major planning applications), top it all off they only had one objection.  Any planner (private or public) in the room I am sure was immediately feeling completely in awe.

SWEET, simplicity and GeoDesign

Charles Kennelly CTO of EsriUK was in top form clearly presenting one of his technology passions ‘geodesign’.  The application he demo’d was called ‘SWEET’ and his message was very simple really.  Sometimes making tools that are simple to use for defined purposes really do make sense.  The web application he demo showed off how you could program rules in to editing tools that automatically clipped polygons and stopped you editing outside areas.  Basically, taking away that process us GIS professionals always have to do when receiving someone else’s data which is cleaning up and fixing geometries (like slithers).  In the demo web application you could plot away and be sure that the data you create was clean and clipped to your areas properly.

Closing Plenary

The Customer Success Awards were back again (we won one last year hurrah!) and what a great series of entries, I am glad they keeping this going.  It is always nice to be recognised for hardwork and clearly the winners and nominees have been working hard!.

 

Daniel Raven-Ellison a self-confessed ‘Guerilla Geographer’ (don’t cringe) gave a very impassioned presentation focusing on his campaign to make London a National Park City .  Always the cynic living in Northern England I feel uncomfortable giving London more designations and status.  But he did give a compelling argument but perhaps instead of a National Park City a focus on making all cities green and vibrant as he wants to make London would be better?  Whatever your opinion he is a very passionate and good speaker with important things to say about our cities and environment.  I think we ignore him at our peril.

The future look at the platform was interesting the Esri inc team were represented with Chris Andrews and EsriUK by Charles Kennelly the platform is scaling well and 3D is a big part of this.   

Charles also treated us to an experimental map where the cartography was enhanced or augmented with sounds.  So moving the mouse over particular elements of a map gave a different noise.  I think this kind of approach will be ever more important when augmented and mixed reality technologies become main stream.  Not everything in GIS should be visual was my ‘take away’.

Summary

As usual I have skimmed over details at a ramble for this blog post.  As a company we had a great day talking about our new GD3D® brand and our data service for the Esri platform.  It strikes me that people still are sitting in silos of data though, hesitating to be the first to break out and hindered by restrictive licencing and pricing.  I guess that is often the nature of professions. 

Personally, I met lots of new and interesting people, so thank you if you talked to me and sorry if I don’t remember your name next we meet, it’s not personal! I’m just not very good at remembering faces. 

We gave out lots of badges and stickers which made travelling home lighter and easier too.  Coming up next for us, my colleague Nicholas Duggan will be attending the Geobusiness conference in London.  I have now booked my flights to San Diego for this year’s Esri UC I’ll be attending some 3D sessions there but am also eager to meet up and chat with anyone interested in 3D building data for the Esri platform and of course Esri CityEngine training and services.

Our presentation on Big Data!

I’ll be doing another post on our presentation at the Esri UK Annual Conference entitled “Big data! Offshore to onshore: Streaming 3D cities and point clouds” shortly…. 🙂

 

CityEngine, Unity and HTCVive : finally useful & accessible Virtual Reality?

CityEngine, Unity and HTCVive : finally useful & accessible Virtual Reality?

Walking around a 3D model of Birmingham which includes 3D buildings and symbology generated using CityEngine

I recently purchased an HTC Vive for some ‘out of hours’ Research and Development.   What strikes me is how quickly you can take 2D GIS data, turn it into 3D and walk around it in a Virtual Reality environment for testing out scenarios for urban planning or even visualising underlying data (think smart cities).  

like with maps and statistics you can lie with 3D visualisations

Like with most things it doesn’t have to be complicated, you need the right workflows and data but much of this is understanding requirements and matching your workflows to suit a particular need.   When dealing with GIS data you need to have an understanding of accuracy, projections and provenance of data as well, because like with maps and statistics you can lie/mislead with 3D visualisations.

Smooth terrains and 3D GIS buildings ready for your Unity developed game or tool!

This is quite incredible that we can go through multiple urban design scenarios in a day (modelling in CityEngine) analysing this data using Esri’s 3D Analyst extension (in ArcGISPro of course!) and then walking around the scenario in a fully immersive environment!   Yes most of the visuals need some polish but this kind of setup we could only dream of a couple of years ago.

3D GIS data integrated with CityEngine models in a game engine environment (Unity) how cool is this?!

We have the tools, we have the data it’s just a question of joining it all up.  If you need some guidance or help come talk to us at Garsdale Design because we’ve had the time to work on the workflows and datasets.

Thoughts on my time with Garsdale Design so far

Thoughts on my time with Garsdale Design so far

 
profile_Matt
 
Finally I take the time to write my first post on GeoPlanIT. It’s been too long, but too being busy for these kinds of things is usually a sign that ‘business is good’.
 
Read a bit more about my background here and follow me on Twitter: @MattB3D 
 
I wanted to share some thoughts and experiences about my time with Garsdale Design so far:

I must say the knowledge that Garsdale Design staff combines is very deep and very well balanced, evenly among Architecture, Heritage, Urban Planning, GIS, 3D Modeling and Visualization. Everybody has their own field of expertise, interests and great specialization. Having said that, it becomes clear that we are proud to be able to address an extreme range of different jobs. And this shows in the people that contact us from many sectors, from all around the globe. This feels wonderful.
 
The services we offer are unique. The consulting we provide is rooted in deep knowledge of theory, but also practice – which is essential.My own expertise is 3D graphics. I’m specialized in modeling, texturing and rendering detailed cityscapes. I hope I can further explore this field in future. As we will be growing as a company, I hope to get a hold in the visual effects and game industries, providing unique services to produce high-quality 3D city content.
 
A simple example of a visualization of data provided by our friends at CyberCity3D.

 
LA_Financial_District
 
 
In future blog entries, I will cover more technical topics and experiment with applications of procedural modeling that shall inspire everybody and show the capabilities of CityEngine and other tools I know.
 
I am looking forward to continue the great time I’ve had so far in the team!
 
Matt
 
 
ps..
If you have not had not seen mine and my friend Cyrill Oberhaensli’s ‘Favela’ project, have a look here:
 
The future of GeoPlanIT

The future of GeoPlanIT

 

A global future.
A global future.

GeoPlanIT which has been my private blog since I started, is changing. The idea was that I would muse on the geography/planning and IT (tech) world as well as off topic posts about my life and things that made me ponder.

What you may have notice happen is that my life has been consumed largely by one product (Esri CityEngine). This has been good for me and this business, in fact so much so that I have led Garsdale Design’s business into the 3D city and Esri CityEngine consultancy business.

This is turning into a tremendously successful move, in fact so much so that in September we took on a new colleague who (shock horror) wasn’t a family member!

This was a personal and professional risk taking on a new staff member with barely a business plan in place (it was more of a gut feeling really). But I needn’t have worried in a little over 3 months Matthias (more on him later) and I have made great strides into the CityEngine consulting and training business and see lots of work on the horizon.

This is turning into a tremendously successful move

GeoPlanIT the blog has been a key point of contact for many of you with us, and me in particular and with what CityEngine is capable of. I want to keep that channel open, I’m not big on the ‘corporate’ thing, and GDL is not a big faceless multinational, we’re people who do interesting work as professionally as we can.

As GDL’s CityEngine work has increased my time has been focused elsewhere and I have not been making the blog posts I should. So I’ve been thinking recently, why not be more obvious about this all and make GeoPlanIT the semi-official blog of Garsdale Design? Then I can get other colleagues to do posts and cover a more broad range of topics (that was originally intended anyway).

Matthias_xmas_2014
Once every year Matthias has a beer… (a half)

may I introduce you to the newest member of Garsdale Design, Matthias?

With that in mind may I introduce you to the newest member of Garsdale Design, Matthias? I have asked him to start contributing posts and articles to this blog and I hope to expand this further.

GeoPlanIT will still stay as it always was, a more informal way of talking about my (and now our) interests as well as our work. Yes it will still have a CityEngine focus. As to noticeable changes, well I will make it clearer this is now becoming more of a ‘company’ blog of sorts. No “look how wonderful we are!” stuff here (unless we are excited). No “buy one get one free” sales pitch either.

So what’s on the horizon for GeoPlanIT? Well Matthias has his first blog post coming soon (stay tuned) an introduction really and then he is going to do a post about some really nice work he is doing.

LumenRTsitelogo

I have a blog post about LumenRT 2015 coming, not a review as such but my thoughts on it and where we see it being used. In the new year GDL has some exciting developments coming that I hope to share with you. I’d also like to finally put to a blog about our first 3DPathFinder CityEngine training event in Miami.

Butter Tarts

Season Greetings and wishing you a successful and productive new year!

xyHt – Ready (finally) for 3D

xyHt – Ready (finally) for 3D

Arms crossed, must be serious...
Arms crossed, must be serious…

I’m in the latest edition (December 2014) of the xyHt magazine.

How do current geo and engineering design practitioners view this “3D revolution”? Many practitioners were all-in on 3D long before it became trendy for the masses. We asked for insights from noted GIS/CAD/geodesign expert, lecturer, and GeoPlanIT blogger Elliot Hartley, director of Garsdale Design Limited in the UK.
Hartley specializes in planning and urban development, and visualization and will employ any and all tools appropriate for his domestic and international  projects, including but not limited to City Engine, ArcGIS, AutoCAD, and SketchUp.

My arms are crossed in the photo of me so I must be serious!   You can read it online here (there is an option to download the PDF too).

Site Notice: All comments will now be moderated

Site Notice: All comments will now be moderated

Just a quick post to notify everyone, that I’ve decided to moderate all comments from now on.   As my site has got a little more popular (hurrah!) I’ve started to get some undesirable comments and spam posts (not everything is caught by bloggers spam filter).  I’m not offended I just need to tighten the admin side of things for the site

I will aim to approve all comments within a day, rest assured I will read and where possible reply to all!

Thank you that is all….