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GIS 3D: The Rise of the Buildings

Dale Lutz
July 15, 20093 min
It’s always fun and exciting at the ESRI UC, and this year was no less so than any of the past 14 that I’ve been privileged enough to either attend...

It’s always fun and exciting at the ESRI UC, and this year was no less so than any of the past 14 that I’ve been privileged enough to either attend first-hand or vicariously through colleagues at Safe. For me the most relevant demonstrations of ArcGIS 9.4 at the plenary were those relating to the 3D support it is going to have – it will be a true 3D GIS. As a company that makes software used by a great many ESRI customers, I was extremely gratified that we will be very well positioned to play a key role in getting 3D data both into and out of the Geodatabase. The Geodatabase will also be a great destination for results of data integrations. My colleague and Safe Chief Scientist Kevin recently showed this at the OGC 3D Fusion Summit where he put orthophotos, building outlines with heights (or building outlines + LIDAR) and building textures into FME and spit out a 3D city model – which can be used to quickly make a starting point for a 3D city model that can then be edited or further refined using a tool like ArcGIS 9.4 (Stu Rich has a great recap of the summit on his blog). I was also very relieved that we started building the infrastructure for 3D in FME two years ago — otherwise we’d be very far behind the curve now. 3D city model from 2D data

It seems like 2009 was the year when 3D really made it into the mainstream of GIS products – at the Oracle Spatial User Conference I saw Abaco visualizing urban areas stored using Oracle Spatial’s 3D objects, at Intergraph 2009 I saw some impressive demos of GeoMedia with Skyline’s 3D technology tightly integrated into it, at Where 2.0 and at the aforementioned OGC 3D Fusion Summit we saw Autodesk’s LandXplorer working with 3D city models, and at our own FME User Conference Francois Valois of Bentley showed how they were using FME to bring CityGML into Bentley Map for editing and later export – you can view his presentation below.

2009 is truly the year that the buildings rise up (queue the Terminator music), well, at least rise up out of our maps….

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Update: (Friday)
ESRI has posted the video of the plenary 3D GIS section from their UC. The 3D portion begins about half way through and is well worth a view…

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