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Sedbergh and District The Fallen of WW1: A Cartographic project

Sedbergh and District The Fallen of WW1: A Cartographic project

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on some custom mapping for a range of products (digital and paper) to commemorate 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War here in Sedbergh.

Fantasy mapping using real world data in ArcGIS Pro is fun!

It started with my experimentation of using ArcGIS Pro and the Ordnance Survey’s fantastic Open Zoomstack data product to create ‘fantasy’ type maps.  I soon realised that there was more I could, do and with Remembrance day coming up I had an idea.

Old Ordnance Survey Mapping of the WW1 battlefields notice the red lines of war related infrastructure (trenches, barbed wire etc…) Source: National Library of Scotland  and Ordnance Survey

What if I recreated those old Ordnance Survey (6-inch maps) using modern data and symbolise the natural features of the area as some kind of trench and barbed wire network?  This would represent the deep routed effects war had on the community and highlight the ‘battlefield’ of home, whether that be loved ones not returning, or returning not quite the same, and the ripple effect it had on the valleys around Sedbergh.

Sneak peak at the A1 paper version…

I started by making a basemap I could use in a printed product (a series of A1 sheets), but quickly realised this nice looking basemap (derived from OS data) could be used in some nice digital mapping.

“Streams of Remembrance” in St Andrews Church, Sedbergh
It’s a giant river, valley, and places map of our area.

Staff at Garsdale Design had been involved in the ‘Streams of Remembrance’ display in St Andrew’s Church in Sedbergh and had a list of names given to them by Sedbergh and District History Society.   What I’ve done with this is create a geographic point file of where all the soldiers lived and their biographical details, then I constructed a web link to feed their details into the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website so you could click on the link and find where they are buried.


My feeling was that more viewers can relate to an age than they can to rank, status or anything else. 

Symbology – I’ve wrestled with this for a while, I knew each soldier had to be represented by a poppy symbol of some kind.  Was age important? Was rank? Was where they lived or died significant?  I could not and did not want to answer, every death is a tragedy and significant.   I did think however, that age might be a good way to group these people in the storymap.   My feeling was that more viewers can relate to an age than they can to rank, status or anything else. 

Badly drawn poppies by me from an image I found using Google at different life stages….

So I drew some poppies, single flowers, flowers on stems, and finally I settled on a collection of symbols.  Single poppies when close together overlapped too much and you couldn’t make out individuals and I didn’t like it.  I tried resizing the poppies based on age but was unhappy… so I asked for help.


so I asked for help.

After much deliberation I reached out to Kenneth Field**, if it’s one thing that those who know Ken would agree on is that he has an opinion!   I gave him some background and asked for advice on displaying the poppies, I won’t repeat all of what he said (it was long and very kind) but basically my idea of sizing based on age was brought into clarity when he said:

…you could ditch age altogether. Is it important in the context of the map? Isn’t the fact each poppy locate a fallen soldier enough (mass of poppies = more in this sense cognitively). A larger poppy might also be seen as being ‘more important’ because it’s more visible. Is a soldiers age relevant to their ‘importance’

Ken Field 2018
Overlapping poppies at different stages…

A poppy at various life stages is an interesting and beautiful thing.  I liked the idea and in the end after much thought I used all the symbols on my map (with the bottom of the stem being where the point is on the map).  Each poppy symbol would be distributed randomly, age would not be a factor, this also allowed me to avoid some of the overlapping symbology issues I was having.  I know it’s not perfect and the image above looks a bit too delicate, but I think I’ll never be truly happy with any solution.  Artistically I like this compromise the best.  An unexpected outcome is actually the 3D view of these poppies looks much better than the 2D.

The symbology I settled on….

I didn’t want to write so much in one post, I do have a technical blog post about the making of this coming as well.   I’ll end by saying I’ve created a number of maps paper A1 sheets, 2D webmap, StoryMap, 3D Scene, and a custom 3D mApp using the Esri JS API.

A link to the StoryMap and 3D mApp (this custom app allows you to get screenshots of an area and download them with a custom title) are ready and linked here below (click on the images).

** Shameless plug but Ken’s book “Cartography.” it’s a valuable resource for those who want to make better maps. 

Loading the OS Open Zoomstack Geopackage into ArcGISPro (with OS styling).

Loading the OS Open Zoomstack Geopackage into ArcGISPro (with OS styling).

OS Open Zoomstack in ArcGIS Pro with symbology created by the Ordnance Survey

This is a quick write up that’s related to the blog series I’m doing on custom symbology in ArcGIS Pro.  Well sort of, it just so happens to be the perfect dataset to use to use for UK based mapping projects where you don’t want to use a costly licenced dataset (maybe the forthcoming Open MasterMap may change that?).   Now, I know I normally write about 3D and CityEngine related stuff but I do love a good 2D map as well!  This post assumes a simple working knowledge of ArcGIS Pro.   I’m considering making this a video as well so you can see the entire process.

First you need to download the OS Open Zoomstack as a ‘geopackage’ don’t worry whilst ArcGIS Pro doesn’t support direct editing of a ‘geopackage’ it does support native reading of it. * there’s some discussion in the comments at the end of this post, if you’re reading on the front page click here to view

Fun fact: the GeoPackage is an ‘open format for geospatial information’

You can read about it here.

A word of warning this is a UK national dataset, so naturally the size is large (10.1 Gigabytes!).

To help as well I suggest you download the Ordnance Survey’s custom symbology for this dataset which you can get from github.

As you can see there are some instructions on what to do with style sheets if you’re an ArcMap user in that PDF linked above… well I do not use ArcMap much anymore more so I’ve pretty much made a complete transition to ArcGIS Pro so here’s what you do next.

Step 1: New ArcGIS Pro project and then ‘insert’ a new ‘map’.

Step 2: Convert the Geopackage into a File Geodatabase… as far as I am aware you don’t need an Advanced licence or FME or the Data Interoperability Extension (if I’m wrong comment below on this post) you can drag in each layer manually into a Map in ArcGIS Pro and then right-click the ‘export data’ function.  Or better yet, you can use the copy features GP tool (using the Batch function). *I’ve created a toolbox with two tools that simplifies this process for me.  I will share this as a separate blog post soon…

Step 2: Remove the prefix ‘main_’ from all the feature classes you imported into the new file geodatabase, otherwise you can’t use the lyr file on them….

Step 3: Find your “OS-Open-Zoomstack.lyr” (link to download it here) and drag it in to your Map, notice all those red “!” marks, this means it can’t find the data these symbols are linking too.   Click on one of these red “!” to fix them all.   It will ask you where the data layer is located ( in this case ‘names’).  Find the data in the new file geodatabase you created.

Step 4: Well it should all work and all those “!” should have gone and you have a nicely symbolised OS Open Zoomstack data set courtesy of the nice folks at the Ordnance Survey.

A final note this workflow unbelievably helped me find where Esri hid the ‘repair data’ function went, basically they built it into the “!“… d’oh.

Coming up in a future blog post: How we can use OS Open Zoomstack with our hand drawn custom symbology.

CREATING AND USING CUSTOM ARCGIS PRO SYMBOLOGY – PART 2: Image Preparation and Processing

CREATING AND USING CUSTOM ARCGIS PRO SYMBOLOGY – PART 2: Image Preparation and Processing

This is the second part in a series of posts on my journey to create custom symbology in ArcGIS Pro. Inspired by John Nelson this post is primarily a reminder to myself about how I did it.  Actually this whole blog is my personal notes made public (so yes you can do this differently and achieve the same results), I’ve done on more than one occasion a Google Search for a solution only to find a post I did about it ages back…. doh.

So you have the kit because you read my previous post, so now what?  Well we need to do some drawing and painting!   Then we will process those drawings by scanning them modifying them in a image editor (like GIMP or Adobe Photoshop Elements) and saving them in a nice and organised way.

The next part of this blog series will deal specifically with each symbol type (lines and points) and I will also cover watercolour swatches I’ve created.  This post will get your drawings and sketches to an image editor ready for use in ArcGIS Pro.

Inspiration doesn’t have to come from specific texts or Cartography books (but it helps)

There’s two steps to my process (you can of course do it differently!), first read some books and get some inspiration.  The I have a scrap page which I start doing test runs on symbology and lines a bit like the image below…

doodles can turn into something more digital later…

Once I’m happy with something I will add it to my grid paper I’ve created which you can download here (below).

Don’t be afraid to experiment, don’t think it’s not good enough!  Lots of people say they can’t draw, what I think they mean is they’re not confident enough to draw for other people.  Besides which some mistakes or badly drawn things might look just right in the correct context.

Some look okay, some I’m embarrassed about to be honest, I’m trying to learn not to care too deeply about what others think!

So we have a paper grid of hand drawn symbols (no you don’t need to till them up).  Notice I’ve used white paper for this the whiter and cleaner the paper the better I can edit them later.

Now I would scan them or take a photo, just be warned that take a photo you need really good light, no shadows and try and make sure them are photo’d flat so you don’t have distortions to fix later.   I recommend scanning them if you can as this will keep things nice and consistent.  As a rule I scan at 200dpi or more as a minimum, I do scan as colour even if black and white scans just so I can choose later what’s done with the image also not all pens are black!

I scan the whole A4 page (sorry people from USA we’re metric around here!), and it will look like this in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Ready to process!

Step 1: Duplicate the layer 

Step 2: Delete the background layer

Step 3: Use the crop tool and choose your symbology

Step 4: Use the Magic Wand selection Tool (uncheck contiguous and adjust the tolerance to adjust) to select all the white space on the image.

Step 5: Go to Edit menu and select ‘Cut’ or use the keyboard shortcut ‘Ctrl-X’, now you have a small image with a transparent background! Use the crop tool again to adjust the image size to your requirements (I tend to crop just to the image, but some like to make it precisely square)

filename “draft_v1_v2_final_final_v0.png”

Step 6: Save in a folder with a nice file name but save as a PNG file which supports transparent backgrounds.

So that’s it! The next blog post in this series (coming soon) will take you through symbology a types (lines or points) and show you how we get it working in ArcGIS Pro.  I will also do a separate blog in the series for coloured scans of my watercolours swatches…

Creating and using Custom ArcGIS Pro Symbology – Part 1: Stuff I use to help me.

Creating and using Custom ArcGIS Pro Symbology – Part 1: Stuff I use to help me.

You’ll have seen on social media I’ve been ‘playing’ with techniques to create custom mapping styles.   This is a direct result of me attending EsriUK’s Perth conference and getting all inspired by John Nelson.

Firstly if you haven’t read or seen John Nelson’s blog, go look at it now (I’ll wait): adventuresinmapping.com There’s more obviously around but I’ve been using ArcGISPro for all our 3D GIS and Esri CityEngine content.  However I’ve wanted to do something more artistic, more in-depth and one that pushes my comfort zone a little.   John Nelson’s cartography using ArcGIS Pro are a master class in the art of what’s possible.

So this is the first blog post in a few and maybe even a video (yes I do that occasionally) on the lessons I’ve learnt from using ArcGIS Pro to make some unique maps that look hand drawn (and sort of are).   Can you do this in a product like QGIS?  Yes I think you probably can, can you apply some of what I write here to QGIS, I hope so!

Equipment and preparation

I’m aiming to make this repeatable and consistent, therefore I’ve done some preparation which I will share with you here.  You don’t have to purchase anything of course! I just wanted to record what I had done here.

The glorious Staedtler triplus® fineliner 334

Pens. While we will be using ArcGIS Pro we will also need to do our own drawing, and no I don’t believe you have to be very good at drawing just consistent and willing to try new things.  I’ve settled on the Staedtler triplus fineLiner 334-9 a nice pen with a good line quality. Unsure?  Go to a good pen shop and try some out, for me we’re doing symbology of lines and symbols so it needs to be crisp and good for scanning.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketcher’s Pocket Box set of 12… is nice to have and small!

Paints.  Well I like watercolours and I also wanted to replicate some what John Nelson has done, so I’ve chosen a simple set we got my eldest child from Winsor & Newton.

Paper. Honestly 80gsm everyday paper for simple pen work it has a nice crisp white perfect for scanning.  If I was to improve it so you didn’t see anything on the back or to stop it curling, 90gsm is better.  For watercolour work obviously you need watercolour paper (190gsm to 300gsm) just ensure any scanner can handle it, if you intend to use a scanner!

The grid. I wanted to inject some consistency in to the process and left to my own devices just sketching on a piece of paper will get messy pretty quickly so I created a series of A4 grids for the different symbols.  I’ve made this a PDF which you can download below (see resources heading below).

Scanner or Camera. I’m using an iPhone 7 camera and the dropbox app to quickly upload to my PC (you could equally use a cable or other app).  For the most part I would recommend to use a scanner this allows for clear distortion free scans/images of your drawing.   If you use a camera I find without amazing light quality when taking it you will end up doing additional processes to clean and brighten your image.  The scanner i’m using at home is an Epson Stylus Office BX610FW, I can scan directly to a memory card or via wifi straight to my PC using their Windows program.

Sedbergh-on-sea created with hand drawn elements placed using ArcGIS Pro

Software. Well I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop Elements, but you can also use GIMP (which is fantastic!).  Oh yes and ArcGIS Pro….  

I like it.

Books and inspiration. Well John Nelson and his blog I’ve already talked about but I’ve been looking at a wide variety of books and maps to see what works.  I don’t 100% want to copy (especially if newer material!) but also you don’t have to re-invent the wheel..  From my perspective I really like “Great City Maps”, but then I’m a sucker for urban mapping, I recommend finding a style your’re passionate about and trying to replicate elements of it.

Other publications are available (this is not an endorsement)

Conclusion. So that’s what I’ve been using, I haven’t finished everything yet but Part 2 of this series will look at a workflow for the various elements of a map in ArcGIS Pro you may want to replicate.  I haven’t decided whether to do one giant post about all types of symbology creation or do individual posts for points, lines, polygons etc…

RESOURCES:

The first BCS 3D Cartography Award and 3D SIG Meetup 2018

The first BCS 3D Cartography Award and 3D SIG Meetup 2018

Well it had to happen eventually, we’ve got our first British Cartographic Society 3D Special Interest Group (or 3DGBCS) meetup coming at the end of March, hosted at the Ordnance Survey offices.   Nicholas Duggan has been leading this and will have finalised the details shortly, be sure to keep an eye out for it on social media as well as here.

Now on to more news: we’ve had tremendous support in setting up the 3D Group and we want too extend this.  As such we have setup an award specifically for 3D cartography of any sort from any industry or profession.  This bit is important really as the term 3D can be all encompassing and we didn’t want to limit who entered, you don’t even need to be a member of the BCS.   In our work we’ve seen representations of the world in 3D from many industries just look at the entertainment industry for a wide range of 3D technologies and let’s be honest mapping/cartographic techniques.   In urban planning and architecture 3D representations of the world around us provide important context for proposals.  With smart cities a 3D basemap is considered integral to the bringing all this city data together.

3D Cartography Award 2018

The first annual 3D Cartography Award Sponsored by GD3D® the 3D geospatial brand from Garsdale Design, is a new exciting award open to everyone in any industry creating interesting, informative, exciting 3D cartography (real or imagined) using any technique and/or medium!

Currently we find 3D representations all around us, whether it is a web map, a survey plan, a planning visualisation, or even a computer game. This can come in many forms from a simple isometric drawing through to full haptic virtual reality.

We don’t care what industry you are in or what software you use, whether you are a surveyor, cartographer, GIS user, artist, engineer, data scientist, or other, we just want to see your amazing 3D representations and hope the entries will challenge everyone’s perception of what 3D cartography is!

There are many interpretations of what 3D cartography is, so we don’t want to limit entries. We propose an award for an overall winner based on communication of the intended message, legibility, simplicity, visual impact, and composition. There will also be commended awards for those we see as having merit in particular areas, science, statistics, visualisation, urban, natural environment, fictional, and other.

Entries will be considered by a panel of judges, appointed by the GD3D® team at Garsdale Design and the BCS Awards Committee. The panel will include a range of people from different areas of expertise in the 3D data industry. The panel will judge the quality and design of the map in relation to the purpose for which the map was produced.
The winning entry will be announced at the BCS-SoC Conference in September 2018. The award comprises a crystal trophy to be retained by the winner and a certificate. The winning entry will be put forward for the BCS Award. Those commended will receive a certificate.

All entries will be exhibited at the BCS-SoC Conference and the winners will be published in The Cartographic Journal and on the BCS website following the Awards Ceremony.

We don’t want to limit the entries but as guidance below is an example list of entry types. This list is not exhaustive, and the judging panel will consider other formats as appropriate:

  • Web map
  • 3D print
  • Game executable
  • VR formats compatible with HoloLens, HTC Vive, Apple & Android
  • GIS format
  • PDF
  • Paper
  • Mobile Application (Android or iPhone)

The entry form is available here.

British Cartographic Society 3D Group first (informal) meet up

British Cartographic Society 3D Group first (informal) meet up

Well it finally happened!   The the very first informal meeting of the 3D Group a Special Interest Group of the British Cartographic Society took place after the Esri UK annual conference.

Both Nicholas Duggan and myself are co-conveners of the group and whilst we both work together he is based in Southampton, Hampshire and I am based in Sedbergh, Cumbria.   We often meet in the middle at conferences and the EsriUK conference happened to coincide with the formation of the 3D group.

I have to be honest there wasn’t too many people in attendance but that didn’t matter this was a social thing rather than a serious meeting.  It was good to see some familiar faces though.   We stood outside the St Stephen’s Tavern in Westminster (a couple of minutes walk from the EsriUK AC venue) and chatted about all things 3D and map related.

Nick and myself reiterated our commitment to further the world of 3D mapping and helping others with some of the challenges it presents.  We see the group as open to anyone (from anywhere) with an interest in 3D mapping whether that is scientific or artistic, professional or entertainment our feeling is that we need to start learning from each others professions and industry’s.

Here’s a quick example of what I mean by learning from each other’s industry’s…. When I started visualising our GIS data in 3D there were questions on how best to represent the non-physical world which have a location to them.  For example demographics of households or income levels.  Methods of representing this in 2D are fairly well established but I felt ability to view data in 3D somehow changed things.  For one thing the end user can views this data from multiple weird angles I would never have chosen!  I’m not saying 3D visualisation is a new thing, but it was new to me at the time.   Then I remembered someone had already done this but not as part of some professional GIS system or scientific mapping.  No, I remembered the game SimCity had been doing this for a while…

White buildings with coloured bars in 3D, a gaming company had come up with a very effective technique of visualising all sorts of data in a 3D environment over a city scale.   Ok not a brilliant example but I hope you get my point…

There are many traditional ‘professional’ companies running headlong into Mixed, Augmented, Virtual Reality, and gaming technologies all struggling with the same issues, data sizes, data visualisations, z-fighting, textures and more.   Now more than ever we need professions to come together and help each other.  We shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Next steps

We plan to have an official 3D Group meeting at the British Cartographic Society’s and Society of Cartographers Annual Conference in Durham on the 5th to 7th of September.  What day this will be we don’t know yet.   We’d also like to hold a couple of meetups in places other than the usual suspects so north and south.  If you have an idea on where to hold these drop us a line.

We’re also looking for more people to be involved!  You don’t have to be a member of the BCS (although it would be nice), so get in touch with us.  We are hoping to set up a online forum somewhere as well, but until then Nick (@dragons8mycat) and I (@elliothartley) are on twitter and will try and use the hashtag #3DGBCS 

A little bit about the 3D Group :

The 3D Group (3DG) is for anybody interested in the exciting world of 3D GIS and cartography. Real or fictional, proprietary or open, science or arts, we aim to promote discussion on the challenges and opportunities that new technologies (hardware and software) are bringing. We’re hoping to attract more than just GIS professionals, programmers, and cartographers to this group. The broad subject of 3D intertwines with several industries, we also want to bring in entertainment industry professionals, architectural visualisation specialists and more. Professional tools and technologies are blurring the boundaries between the worlds of entertainment, architecture, planning, GIS and cartography. Let’s learn from each other and provide help to those who are eager to learn. If you work with 3D software or technologies join us. We aim to hold 3D events at least a couple of times a year, provide training days and we welcome discussions online via social media through the hashtag on twitter of #3DGBCS. The Co-Conveners of the 3D Group are Elliot Hartley and Nicholas Duggan.

 

 

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.