I’ve not done this before but I think this is an interesting PhD topic for someone and of course there is a 3D city angle!
University College London and the Ordnance Survey are currently inviting applications for a 3-year PhD studentship in “Creating Dynamic3D City Models for Smarter Cities” which will examine the creation of multiple 3D models from a single data source (through generalisation/abstraction). The PhD will be supervised by Dr Claire Ellul (UCL) and by Jeremy Morley (Ordnance Survey). The closing date is the 28th July.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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’.
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…. 🙂
People want and expect their 3D modelled urban environments to be very high quality. Unfortunately, whilst most of us here work with 3D. We know that without significant investment of time and money we are not going to achieve such polish easily.
A great big thank you to Ryan Johnston for inviting us and being such a great host! We greatly enjoyed the event.
Small areas with a lot of detail or large areas with a little detail? Despite digital 3D urban models being seen everywhere from games, to movies, planning/architectural visualisations, and applications like Google Earth. Creating 3D urban models with a geospatial element is not as easy as some might think. The industry is always trying to answer the question with things like meshes, point clouds and gamification but is it working?
Firstly, a detailed understanding of what is meant by a 3D model is required. levels of detail (LOD) and accuracy need to be assessed against levels of effort as well as the equipment and method of capture available, with the end user being always in mind. The ability to bring geographic datasets together with fictional datasets poses serious questions (legal, technical and ethical) for those in the 3D urban modelling business as the line between a scientific decisions blurs with the artistic and aesthetic choices we make.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Transport Systems Catapult : TSC current projects
Future Cities Catapult : Use of environments for smart cities
Satellite Applications Catapult : Satellite
Mantle: Creation of game ready content from GIS data
ESRI : 3D GIS
Leica Geo Systems : Technology behind 3d Lidar Environments
MK Surveys : Creation of 3d Lidar Environments
Garsdale Design : The Art & Science of 3d Cities
UCL : Intelligent positioning within 3d environments
Rust Ltd : Creation of AAA quality game environments
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!
After a period of ‘radio silence’ I’m looking at doing more regular postings here. As I’ve discussed before this blog is naturally a semi-official Garsdale Design blog as well. As such we’re looking to have our Southampton colleague Nicholas Duggan contribute every so often. Nick (or @Dragons8MyCat ) is a well known blogger and the European Editor for XyHt magazine as well as having vast GIS and mapping experience in the Nuclear and off-shore industry.
Garsdale Design’s work in 3D GIS is well recognised in the Esri world, I’ve heard us called the ‘3D-Guys’ more than a few times from separate people/organisations now. We’re looking to capitalise on our knowledge by creating a new brand (which will be launched soon) to separate ourselves a little from Garsdale’s Architectural, Planning and heritage business. We’re also on the cusp of launching (subject to some bureaucracy, don’t ask) a 3D data service for people who just want their 3D basemap now. If you’d like some more details you can contact us directly.
This year we hope to organise a geospatial mini-conference here in Cumbria, with some speakers and followed on by a couple of days of training/workshops. If you’re interested in getting involved or coming along please get in touch.
Keep on the look out for our new brand, we’ll do a blog post here on launch day. In the meantime if you need Esri CityEngine or ArcGISPro training contact us!