Well it seems I’m always apologising for being to busy write or update this blog.  I probably should stop that.  Anyway as part of GISday (you got your GIS/maps person a cake right?), Lorna Sherman from Jacobs posted on LinkedIn a question: Whete do you see the value in 3DGIS?  

Well I had to reply unfortunately my reply turned into something to large for a comment, so I thought I’d write it here (hashtags and all).  

This can be a tricky question to answer as the term #3D itself means different things to different people.  #3DGIS is a subset of that but already this is a diverse topic!

From my experience of #training private and public organisations in 3DGIS using #CityEngine, #ArcGISPro and other tools (I’ll see you and the team next week Lorna!) I have found people can struggle with quantifying its immediate value. 

Inherently #3DGIS for many (I’m probably talking #urban – #architectural – #design related fields) #3D is about the ‘pretty picture’ so for example a design scenario within the context of a city block.  Wrongly some mistake this for being trivial, when actually being able to communicate information in an engaging way is very valuable.  From the #GIS professional side, I often come across those who see value in metrics and attributes, but a static picture with no obvious values or numbers being displayed seems pointless to them.  When discussing modelling 3D buildings, I have heard the phrase more than a few times “what’s wrong with just an attribute and an extrusion?”. There are many answers to this of course, but the value question is routed in our notion of our individual professions.

Of course, those reading this will know about 3D #design – #architectural – #engineering related technologies such as #BIM (more information than 3D I’d argue, but still).  3DGIS fits above this somewhere but is basically the next logically step for those who make #maps.  Esri’s #LivingAtlas is full of flat maps.  If we are to increase our understanding of the natural and built world we need to try and replicate it digitally somehow (perhaps #digitaltwin as a concept is useful!), so 3D GIS is the term we use to store this information, and just like conventional 2D GIS it can take many forms.

Add to this a general merging of the end point (by end point I mean outputs) of some disciplines: hands-up all those in #urban – #architectural – #engineering – #GIS – #environment who are using or experimenting with game engine technologies like #unreal or #unity!  Combine this also with the concept of #geodesign and the acknowledgement that professional disciplines need to get out of our individual silos of information/knowledge and work together.

So, I guess my answer to your question is that the value of #3DGIS can be in a simple #visualisation and that is okay, but equally it can be in clash detection of #underground #infrastructure or analysis of wind over a building.  3DGIS then has immense value it just depends what question you’re trying to answer, and often experimenting in 3D can pose new questions and ideas you didn’t have before.

This is Ordnance Survey Terrain50 OpenData used in CityEngine and then an external renderer

FINAL NOTE: The ‘Featured Image’ associated with this post might look like Minecraft but is in fact real Ordnance Survey Terrain50 Opendata (3DGIS!) which has been recreated in CityEngine and then rendered for nice light and water in another program as Minecraft blocks, I don’t think anyone would dispute the value of Minecraft… 🙂