Last week I had the pleasure of again attending the GeoWeb conference here in Vancouver. As usual, the venue and weather combined to create a perfect environment for a hundred or so attendees from around the world to share ideas, learn, and be challenged on a variety of cutting edge geospatial topics.
GeoWeb truly is a gathering point for the top minds in a variety of disciplines within the industry. At what other conference could an impromptu session on CityGML be scheduled a couple of hours ahead of time and have 3 presenters who really truly knew the ins and outs be ready to go.
There was an entire track on things 3D, and within those I could sense a maturing from “gosh, this 3D stuff is cool” to “okay, here’s how we can use this 3D stuff to start making informed decisions”. Examples shown ranged from tax calculation based on hours of direct sunlight received (which we should push for in the often cloudy Vancouver area!), to determining the building height envelopes so as not to disturb city profiles or viewscapes. And as always, I was shocked at how few people know that PDFs can do 3D, and how useful this format can be for mass distribution of moderately sized scenes.
Several talks referred to the next big jump in geospatial computing power coming from harnessing the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), the floating point supercomputer, that sits largely idle on most desktops. Some very impressive demonstrations were shown, and during the breaks, I saw some benchmark results of some open source software that had been ported to make use of the GPU. I’m not sure how much of this is ready for prime time today, but I can sniff some disruption coming if and when this does go to production.
One theme I noticed in the BIM/GIS talks I attended centered around the difference in primary purpose of these two disciplines. Today, most of the BIM work is for planning and designing a building. But it is not maintained or intended to be used once the building is completed. GIS purposes for this type of data however pick up typically after the building is complete, are long lasting, and care little about most of the information necessary to actually build the building. The last part sounds to me like a job for ETL!
Overall, GeoWeb continues to be a fantastic, if “boutique” conference, that pushes the edges of the state of the art in 3D, standards, BIM, LiDAR, and all things geospatial and webby. Start planning now to come to it next summer – you definitely won’t be disappointed.