The 3D GIS revolution is on its way, unless it isn’t. A little backstory, I was the CTO at Cityzenith, so I’ve probably put a lot of thought into this over the years and I think we’re so close to something happening, maybe.
Traditionally 3D GIS was awful. ArcScene/ArcGlobe or whatever else you used was so bad. It wasn’t performant and you should as heck couldn’t use it to share data. This is why Esri bought a little-known company, Procedural, back in 2011 to help them get a jump on things. I wrote at the time
Esri has bought a company called Procedural
that gives Esri now 3D content creation tools that are used in movies such as Cars 2. Clearly this is a huge move for Esri and could put them in markets they haven’t been in before.
That’s it, nothing more. I remember being amazed at what I saw but I didn’t write anything more. In fairness, live blogging the plenary was always hard, so any deeper thoughts were shelved.
When I joined Cityzenith, we used Cesium.js
as our engine. I like a ton about Cesium, but we moved off of it to go to Unity3D
because of poor browser support (which has been fixed since then). The one thing we kept and I think the one thing that is most critical to 3D GIS is the 3D Tiles standard
. I liked much about Unity and how we could leverage Mapbox to have our 3D cities rendered, but if I had to do it today, I’d just automate the process as really all that Mapbox did was extrude OSM data. We’d still need the geocoder and such but the look and feel of the city was so important to us, I would love to control that more. But I’m not at Cityzenith anymore so I worry about other things.
What I’m really interested in is how 3D GIS can share ideas with people. I love the AECOM’s virtual public consultation tool
which I really think brings together the 3D with a virtual environment that people can browse. Plus in the age of COVID, this is such a great way to bring public input to users that might not want or be able to come to a public meeting in person. How one feeds these systems it critical though. You can learn more how AECOM is trying to solve these problems on their Digital Innovation microsite.