3D cities

This week’s podcast (episode 274) looked at the 2D/3D question, but as we tend to do, we talked a good bit more about 3D than 2D. We each, of course, have worked with 2D and 3D applications, but again and again we have returned to 3D for a particular use. Urban environments scream for 3D. Sue has blogged about her efforts in creating 3D visualizations for historic environments, 3D models for planning activities, and the plain old fun of looking at city data in a 3D viewer.

But how can you get into the 3D city modeling game? Well there are lots of options.

  • If you are using SketchUp 8 and ArcScene 10, things are getting easier
  • Check out Bentley’s 3D city GIS webinars
  • Take a look a products like Geoweb3D
  • Get some 3D data
  • And keep things open by learning more about CityGML
  • These are just a few of the resources online that you could check out to get on the road to creating your own 3D cities.

    More on Earth Observation

    This week’s main topic on the podcast focused on the role of Remote Sensing and Earth Observation. It seems to have been an unintentionally timely topic as the International Astronautical Conference is going on this week (Sept 27-Oct 1). News/press has already come out of the conference about some future satellites that will be up and running in the next few years. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) plans to launch 3 satellites by 2013. The sensors on these satellites will range from high resolutions (1m and 4m pixel) to moderate resolution (20m pixel) with the potential to capture 600km swaths.

    In association with the announcement, Sir Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of SSTL discussed the seed money that allowed SSTL to spin off of University of Surrey going on to say: “We’re not asking government to fund grand space programmes,” he told BBC News. “But there are some technologies and some business cases that we need the help of government just to get us over the hump – to get the wheels turning.”

    I still think that we should of course continue to spend government money on satellites for earth observation purposes, though I am excited about the growth of the commercial sector in this area as well.

    If Google Maps Were Real

    Mashable (perhaps one of the cooler sites I visit each day) has a nifty story about an artist who drew Google Maps icons as if they existed in the real world.  It’s rather interesting to think about these big push pins existing in real life, or a pop-up box over a building.  Take away the surprised looking people and I think we’ll have a pretty good idea of what large scale augmented reality is likely to look in the near future.

    The State of Mapping APIs.

    Adam DuVander over at O’Reilly has written a decent summation article on the current state of mapping apis in the world.  It’s a short read and highlights some issues, but I think the more important take-away is the lack of cross pollination between geographers and internet mappers.  He doesn’t even discuss ESRI’s api, for instance, and it offers many of the capabilities for which Adam is asking.  There’s simply too much stove piping between the ‘experts’, meaning traditional geospatial experts, and the ‘amateurs’, which are mostly people coming from more traditional computer backgrounds.  Unfortuantely, I fear it might be on the shoulders of the geospatial experts to teach the rest that what we do is important and relevant.  Otherwise we’re libel to see much re-inventing of our spatial wheels… except maybe with added spinners.

    Great video introduction to the National Map

    One of the fun things I get to do in prepping for my classes is getting to look at all the amazing video resources out on the interwebs for Geography and geospatial technologies. While putting together my Intro to Mapping lecture, I remembered this great 6-minute video introduction to the National Map, including a little bit about the history of the USGS’s role in mapping the US, how digital technologies are changing mapping, and the development of the National Map and its functionality. Even if you saw the video when it came out back in January, it’s still a great reference for what the National Map is all about.

    NASA Earth Science Hurricane Katrina retrospective

    To mark the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating landfall in the Gulf Coast, NASA Earth Science has released this short video retrospective of some of the imagery and analyses that were used to track and visualize Hurricane Katrina

    King of Bing contest provides great apps

    While the King of Bing contest ended last week, there are lots of great map apps that you can now check out and play around with. This is the time to do so since the judging will be based on each map app’s use between August 1 through 15. Gizmodo, for instance, highlighted one of the apps which calculates your cab fare for you based on pick-up, time, and distance. Other apps offer parking locations, tourist info, and, my new favorite when traveling, GeoSalesTax

    There are tons of other apps available that have either been submitted for the contest, by content partners, and by Bing itself. One of the newest Bing created apps (which just rolled out today) is an OSM map. For all these goodies and more (to come) head over to http://bing.com/maps/explore