You may have seen that I was out in the United Arab Emirates a couple of weeks back. I was there for two reasons, one to conduct a CityEngine training session for a number of GISTEC clients (we do this training here in the UK either with EsriUK or at our offices in Sedbergh as well as worldwide). As always training often turns to bespoke advice and discussions around workflows and use cases.
Basically, most things that a client asks for with 3D GIS can be done, you just to have a clear idea of what you want (oh and a budget!), technology (hardware and software) has progressed so much recently that most clients are now spoilt for choice.
Want a smart city? Well you may need a 3D basemap. Do you have any sensor data? If so what’s the quality? The answer invariably to all these questions and more is “it depends”. That’s why on the 20th of September I went to help present at our friends and partners GISTEC 3D GIS workshop/seminar event in the Roda Al Bustan in Dubai.
As a new format for GISTEC we were all excited and apprehensive to see how invited guests and clients would respond. We shouldn’t have been nervous as the response was overwhelmingly positive. The sessions allowed people to find out what was possible with particular aspects of the Esri platform and where they could join up some of those dots. My discussion table didn’t just talking about CityEngine. We talked about data acquisition (from UAVs for example, in fact I used demo data from the UAV table), about smart cities and story maps. The day was designed to find out more about everyone’s workflows and problems as well as informing and discussing potential solutions.
The format was informal and less about a sales pitch and more about discussion (no one likes presentations which basically say ‘buy me’). We had divided the session up into tables and each table had a theme to talk about (mine was Geodesign and Urban Planning of course!). The table’s moderators also used flipcharts and post-it notes to engage with the attendees and come up with problems and solutions around each table’s theme. This meant that at the end of the day each table had gained insight into some of the issues surrounding 3D GIS (in for example designing cities) but also discussed potential solutions and workflows (as well as software) to help. These flipcharts and notes would then be shared with the attendees as well (not just the table group but everyone).
Each table’s theme discussion was led by an expert in their field and as you can see we had some amazing people:
Smart Cities and IoT Solutions – Smart City and IoT
Andrew Rippon – NXN
Getting 3D-GIS Data from 3D-CAD – BIM to GIS
Nandakumar Menon – GISTEC
Data Capturing and 3D Data Preparation from Drone – Working with Drones Giuseppe Catania – b-link
Texturing Your Landscape and Building VR Solution – VR Solutions
Dileep Verma – Cirqus
Building Different 3D Applications – Working with Story Maps
The largest group of attendees had come to hear about smart cities and the ‘Internet of Things’ from Andrew Rippon of NXN (formerly Nexgen group) from what I heard (and saw a little of) this was a well received talk and discussion on some issues and challenges as well as the amazing solutions NXN are implementing for smart city projects.
The day ended with a quick panel summary of each tables discussions and a question and answer session. Questions about workflows and interest in what was possible seemed to be the main concerns. All in all I really enjoyed the day with GISTEC and the attendees I think I may have learnt more off of them then they did of me!
Well I’ve been a bit busy as of late working on some exciting 3D projects and attending some really interesting conferences! One day I’ll get around to writing about them. 🙂 There is so much going on in the 3D GIS space that it can feel a bit too much. Fortunately that’s where our expertise lies, making sense of it all and helping clients.
I’ve made some time though to talk a little bit about the new CityEngine 2017.1 Beta that I’ve just installed. But before I continue this is a sneak peek at a beta release some or all features I talk about maybe removed at the last minute, don’t plan your future projects based on this blog. What I would say is yet again, if you are thinking of working in 3D and the Esri platform, CityEngine is worth a look, especially for planners.
The team in Zurich seem to be hell bent on adding new features quickly now especially for the Urban Planners among us! I wanted to show you a very cool new feature/toolset called viewsheds. This gives you live (see animated GIFS below) views of viewshed domes or corridors in the CityEngine viewport, giving you an indication of what you would see from particular vantage points. You can change the colour for each area too (colour visible by all, colour visible by one, colour not visible by any) and place multiple viewsheds.
There are some usual bug fixes and a few new rule functions I can see coming up (I may write about these later), and there is a facility to import and synchronise feature layers hosted in ArcGIS Online! This brings some potentially exciting opportunities and workflows but as a new feature I think as usual this should be used with caution, but the direction of travel here is interesting.
While you’re here it would be good to know what you think of CityEngine and/or it’s direction into Geodesign and planning. Add a comment to continue/start the discussion (all comments reviewed/moderated).
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…. 🙂
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!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted I know! Anyway this year the CityEngine team at Esri have been publishing ‘Rules of the Week’ videos not only that they’ve been publishing the actual rule files as well.
A great way to learn CityEngine is to look at the code other people have written, and who better to (ahem) copy form than the CityEngine team itself.
It’s a bit of a shame that the audio quality is so good in places but if you like CityEngine it’s well worth a view!
A longtime ago in 2013 I did a video demoing some color pallettes being used in CityEngine, I’ve decided to revisit that work making it compatible with CityEngine 2016.1 and adding additional features. The rule now ramps Peterson’s colours based on building elevations, assign your rule and then choose the page number of your favourite Palette in the Cartographers Toolkit (just the palettes obviously) and click generate. The rule uses CityEngine’s ability to query lists of data to make it all work.
I always love CityEngine’s ability to become a flexible symbology tool, I may make this a rule package for use in ArcGISPro too.