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!
Warning these opening lines are painful to read, at the time I thought I was being clever… apologies to all of Canada.
O Canada (specifically Toronto)! My wife’s home and native land! True 3D love for all thy peoples to command. With glowing heart we see 3D rise, The True North (specifically Toronto) strong in 3D! From far and wide, O Canada, we create visualisations for thee. OpenData keep your land glorious and in 3D O Canada, we create VR for thee. O Canada, we create AR for thee.
This is all to do with the news that the OpenData initiative in Toronto has gone and released a combination of 3D detailed and 3D massing models as OpenData. What this seems to be is just the models with no attributes and in a variety of formats. True OpenData advocates will no doubt be upset to read this is just ESRI Shapefile, Geodatabase file, MicroStation files, but honestly who cares?! Those lot are so technical they can open anything right?
We already have height data in OpenStreetMap but this is different as it seems to be a combination of detailed ‘landmark’ buildings and block modelling (i.e. simple extrusions for the rest). The result is a very good looking model. This data will of interest to many types of people and industries, first person to make a Minecraft map out of it wins I guess…
Lovely wording to go with the release as well, what other planning department in the world would do this? London couldn’t do it here as someone would shout “Ordnance Survey Licence” and suck all the fun out of the party…
Exploring new ways to share information with each other is a cornerstone of improving the planning process. To do this it is essential to have city-wide data in accessible formats. A variety of 3D digital information and models exist but currently the data is not readily available to the general public. Providing a consistent city-wide 3D data source will link these digital city planning models and materials together and will allow us to imagine our city from different perspectives. The Open Date site will enable access to to application developers, designers, urban planners and architects, and the public. Ideally this will enable the creation of a visual portal and access to a large collection of city building ideas.
The expected disclaimers apply to but who cares?!
Further to the Open Government Licence, the Context Massing Model is being provided by City Planning on the OpenData website for information and illustrative purposes only. City Planning does not warranty the completeness, accuracy, content, or fitness for any precision purpose or use of context massing model for such purposes, nor are any such warranties to be implied or inferred with respect to Context Massing Model as furnished on the website.
City Planning and the City are not liable for any deficiencies in the completeness, accuracy, content, or fitness for any particular purpose or use of Context Massing Model, or applications utilizing Context Massing Model, provided by any third party.
A word of warning the files are large and it takes a while to load into some programs *cough ArcGIS* and importing all of it into CityEngine in one go should be interesting for you. As is always the case careful data preparation is key!
So what does this all mean? Well it means that the OS may well be the ‘authoritative geographic data’ set for the UK, but it doesn’t mean everything you get from it is without ‘issues’. Know your data, know its limitations, also did I mention OpenStreetMap seems to get it right? Why am I relying on data from the OS again?
UPDATE 07/02/2014 1: Read the associated comment on this post from Phil at the Ordnance Survey, quite possibly the best response I’ve ever had on this blog, thank you.
UPDATE 07/02/2014 2: Old Maps below courtesy of ‘Phil Allen’ FSE Manager at the Ordnance Survey, thank you!
Okay it’s a little odd but I’ve been experimenting with Ordnance Survey Opendata and CityEngine on and off for a while…. using ArcGIS Spatial Analyst Extension tools I created from some OS terrain an artificial flood polygon. I imported the terrain and polygon into CityEngine renamed the flood polygon “flood__water” (the “__water” tells the CityEngine webgl viewer to render it as water). Then I exported it out as a webscene.
Whether this is actually useful I don’t know, certainly for this demo it’s not as I’ve exaggerated the terrain a little for ‘dramatic’ effect.
I think it looks pretty good, I’m in the process of adding buildings, roads and forests, I’ll let you know how it goes… I’m also wanting to do this again using opensource software like QGIS and CityEngine (there is no equivalent of CityEngine as an opensource product).
Cumbria as a geographic area I think has a lot of online maps and they all vary in quality and usability. Sometimes it looks like the people who are operating them haven’t told other departments what they are doing…. to be fair they probably have but red tape has got in the way…
As a resident I shouldn’t have to check 5 different online maps to check out what’s happening in my area. I certainly shouldn’t have to learn how each one operates!(look I used bold and underline I must be serious)
I can’t help wondering why no one is trying to get a national government mapping organisation whereby everyone gets the same online mapping frontend/interface but is in charge of their own data. A bit like the Planning Portal but for publishing data not just receiving it. If people think this can’t be done, I think people working on the EU’s INSPIRE directive might say otherwise.
What I would like to see is web mapping become central not just an after thought to local and national government websites. Yes there is a place of localisation (depending on usage, tourism, history etc…). But a national web mapping site is needed so we can seamlessly browse geographically adjacent datasets. This would be great not just for residents but also policy makers, politicians and professionals. Imagine for example, seeing planning statistics and local plans for neighbouring authorities on one seamless map? Local councillors could see how neighbouring areas with similar demographics are doing. Think how easy consultation with neighbouring councils could be!
Enough of my musings, I’m off to make a map for a local authority in Iraq….
UPDATED: Various errors (spelling, grammar etc..) have been changed since the original was posted
It’s the brief encounters and interesting discussions that make all the difference at these types of events. Often I learn more and come away more enthused from the people I meet rather than the presentations, I think this year was no exception.
I didn’t meet everyone at the dinner bash….
Below in no particular order are some of the people I met (apologies if you are not on the list, use the comments section to point it out!):
Nick Chappallaz – ESRI UK – Nice guy obviously quite busy at the conference, and I apologise for using video that didn’t work on ESRI’s laptops!
Angela Baker – ESRI UK – She made me feel very welcome, and was very encouraging. She expressed a love for Inverness (I up on holiday soon near there). I just hope I gave her a presentation that works!
Andrew Blogg – Korec – As a well as a colleague whose name escapes me (I didn’t get his business card). They are, as I understand it, the UK distributor for this neat bit of surveying kit GPS + Camera + Rugged looking Tablet PC + REMOTE CONTROL PLANE = Geek heaven? From SenseFly, check out the video here.
Lisa Thomas – The Coal Authority – She did a presentation on the Geo-Futures track after me, which I talk about here. We had a very interesting chat at lunch on Day 2 (it’s always difficult standing up, eating and talking to a fellow professional who can tell when you’re making it up!), she told me of the interesting stuff that happens at the AGI meetings (I should probably go to one, one of these days). We also discussed presentation techniques and how to cope with nerves…. thank you.
Richard Greaney – Rusmoor Borough Council – It’s a shame I missed his session, but I did meet his colleague (sorry I didn’t get her name), and heard good things about his presentation. He was also excellent company at the evening dinner/awards.
Richard Betts , Scottish Natural Heritage – Nice to meet him and hear that his bosses seem to give him the freedom to explore new and innovative ways of working. Again he was good company at the awards dinner.
Elavvenil Karthikeyan – BLOM – Came and found me at the end of the conference, he was interested in my presentation and was doing some interesting modelling of cities, mainly for TomTom and was very interested in CityEngine. I think there is an interesting project here. Perhaps he’d like to come back and chat with me and the people at Procedural.
A big thank you to everyone I met and spoke with, I really enjoyed it.
Yes they are a big corporate entity but in some ways they feel more like a movement, so when their yearly conference comes round I get excited. Not content with just advertising their products to their customers it feels as if you’re at an event for the GIS industry as a whole. Whatever issue you might have with ESRI’s software ArcGIS etc… you can’t fault the staff’s enthusiasm and professionalism (well that’s my experience anyway) especially at events like this.
Why the blog post this year? Well because I submitted a paper about using some software in our workflow called CityEngine and was asked to do a presentation on both days. You can find out more about ESRI here and ESRI UK here, I would also recommend some Wikipedia research on GIS.
You may have come to this post because I mentioned you somewhere, if you want to add something more (links, information etc…) or correct something contact me or add a comment to the relevant post.