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CityEngine 2017.0 (Beta) — sneak peek

CityEngine 2017.0 (Beta) — sneak peek

It’s that time of year when Esri start to roll out test releases of CityEngine yay!   Now that CityEngine 2017.0 has switched to a Beta release I can do some limited screenshots and discuss what’s coming in the new release.

it’s never been a better time to jump onboard the CityEngine

This is a big release and it’s never been a better time to jump onboard the CityEngine, procedural urban modelling, and geodesign train!   A refreshed interface, new scenario functions and an upgraded Dashboard for all your model metrics, to name a few improvements and additions.  For those who already use CityEngine on a daily basis, did I mention the new measurement tools, often rumoured to be ‘in development’ but now are actually here?!

It feels like they are actually now making a tool for urban planning professionals rather than the media industry.

Overall, this already as an early release is stable enough for me to do work.  The Esri R&D Zurich gang (and some in Redlands I guess) have done a really really great job of polishing this up and introducing long awaited features.  

CityEngine 2017.0 viewport, note refreshed icons and new direction compass in bottom right.

It feels like they are actually now making a tool for urban planning professionals rather than the media industry. At Garsdale Design we’re a big advocate of this Esri tool, its great for  bringing all that 2D and 3D together.  Helping you to make a cohesive analytical designs and iterating quickly through urban planning scenarios.  Did I mention we offer comprehensive training for CityEngine at our offices here in Cumbria or ‘on site’ at client offices and even at EsriUK’s offices at their headquarters? (apologies for the shameless plug but hey we have to pay the bills!)

A promising new Dashboard setup in CityEngine 2017.0!

Here is a couple of screenshots, there will be more to come but I can’ share with you everything all at once.

 

Area measurement tool in action in CityEngine 2017.0
Distance and Elevation measuring tool in action in CityEngine 2017.0

Berlin joins the 3D OpenData club: 3D buildings released, in six formats

Berlin joins the 3D OpenData club: 3D buildings released, in six formats

berlin3D OpenData
mmmm 3D Buildings……

 

Have a look at what Berlin has done! Releasing 3D textured building data in six different formats!  I’m currently downloading some of the CityGML data (there’s a lot), but this along with the Toronto data set should give you some great real world data for playing with in CityEngine!   It looks like the data is available in the following formats:

Textured

  • CityGML
  • 3DS

Un-textured

  • CityGML
  • 3DS
  • 2D Shape
  • DXF
  • ESRI PGDB
  • 3D Shape
  • KMZ

The lack of choice in the textured version is a product I guess of the limitations in the fileformats but also processing time and file size.   When we do CityEngine projects we almost always use untextured buildings they are easier to download and view on other peoples PCs, and lets face it textures don’t always add anything to your scene.

 

Berlin plays a leading role throughout Europe in the digital economy – as of today a 3D city model of the German capital is available to the public as Open Data. Until now Internet users have had the opportunity to explore the city of Berlin online by using the Business Location Center’s realistic model from Berlin Partner for Business and Technology – now they can also use the data. Regardless of whether for scientists, game developers, city planners, architects or graphic designers, the large-scale model of Berlin is available as a free download.

You can read the press release here.

Better yet go and download the data here.

Sedbergh 3D meets CityEngine and LumenRT

Sedbergh 3D meets CityEngine and LumenRT

Sedbergh Demo Video Title

I’ve been busy this weekend making some of my old demo videos more ‘presentable’!  We (Garsdale Design Limited) purchased 3D Sedbergh off of CyberCity3D so that we had a test bed for 3D workflows and so we can go outside quickly and check the model ‘in the field’ as it were…

smart cities start with smart data

I personally wanted Sedbergh my home town in 3D as I’m quite frankly fed up of seeing cities get all the fun 3D data.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, forget smart cities, what about smart villages and towns?!

People really struggle with CityEngine and what it can do, this is understandable as CityEngine is a very versatile and technical software tool.   We often start with pretty imagery and nice 3D models but we embed intelligence, the underlying 2D GIS data we already knew about.   What we do (amongst other things) is create nice looking 3D basemaps and take your 2D data and make them attractive and importantly useful.

 

This Sedbergh model we’ve added some landuse data (polygons and points) these represent trees, Listed Building status and community buildings.   For planners and architects imagine visualising your plans for a site with this technology.   If you want to view and interact with a Sedbergh model (not quite the one on the video) you can do so here.

 

 

Toronto’s remarkable OpenData gesture: 3D buildings released with city-wide coverage.

Toronto’s remarkable OpenData gesture: 3D buildings released with city-wide coverage.

torontoDEMO_1
Toronto in 3D with Height Zoning map! You can tell it’s Toronto by that building in the bottom left…

 

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…

Toronto, now in glorious 3D! Torontoist Article

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!

I’m waiting for someone to put it in a Cesium demo next….

I’ve been having a go with the data already in CityEngine as you can see from the webscene shot at the top of this article.  Have a look at it in LumenRT too below.

torontoDEMO_2_LumenRT
Even when I model Toronto in 3D I can’t resist making the weather miserable and overcast…

 

So what are you waiting for? Go download it!

Back story – “Master Planning Cities in Iraq” or “Sedbergh, where is it?”

Back story – “Master Planning Cities in Iraq” or “Sedbergh, where is it?”

Nasiriyah Overview

Well this is a topical post and it’s not a coincidence! Some of you who know me, know that I’ve been working on a number of city related projects in southern Iraq. Those that don’t, now do…

I’ve already written a couple of times about our Iraq projects more as a mention rather than a full article (apart from this one here “An interesting day at the office GIS & masterplanning in Iraq”), but those who haven’t I’ll give you some background.

For me it is very rewarding work but sometimes it is ‘just another day at the office’ work.  I’ve realised that many people have found what we do and where we do it from to be an interesting story.

…sometimes it is ‘just another day at the office’ work

  1. A family firm
  2. City Master Plans
  3. Iraq Projects
  4. What’s it like working on a project based in Iraq?
  5. Consultation
  6. Training
  7. Location, location, location
  8. Why am I in the Guardian
  9. Sedbergh – Yorkshire Dales or Cumbria

Read More Read More

In case you missed it: I’m on the Guardian Cities blog

In case you missed it: I’m on the Guardian Cities blog

‘We can’t go to Iraq because it’s too dangerous’ ... Derrick and Elliot Hartley of Garsdale Design in Sedbergh. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
‘We can’t go to Iraq because it’s too dangerous’ … Derrick and Elliot Hartley of Garsdale Design in Sedbergh. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

A week or so back I met with Stuart Jeffries a writer for the Guardian to chat about our interesting in work in Iraq and our exciting future in 3D.   The result was what seems like a popular article in the Guardian Cities blog.

Whilst many people have quoted other passages one of my favourites is this:

To my eyes, there’s a touch of the pleasure of playing video games to Elliot’s work – certainly it looks like great fun.

He’s not wrong!

Elliot Hartley and Stuart Jeffries hanging out...
Me and Stuart Jeffries hanging out…

I’ve read a lot of the comments, both below the article and on twitter.  To be fair I think it’s been quite a positive response, clearly the article didn’t address everyone’s concerns though.  As to the usual trolling well that’s the internet.   I think I will write a response to the article and post it here in the coming days, more for my therapy than anything else.  Thank you to all those who retweeted the story and responded both positively and negatively to the story, I genuinely mean that.

You can read more here.