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A compilation of blogs and articles on 3D mapping and modelling

Ananya Ghosh
Sub Editor
[email protected]

The Dirt
Pete Kelsey, Technical Evangelist, Autodesk is the creator of this blog. He has an ongoing project on on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile. He is using Autodesk Civil 3D 2007 and Trimble GPS gear to inventory, monitor, and map archeological sites on Rapa Nui. He has already created survey grade, georeferenced, 3D models the site, and then overlaid these models on the base map of the entire island that he has himself drawn. In the blog, Pete Kelsey provides an account of the work that he is doing on Civil 3D, especially in the Easter Islands.

GIS Obsessed
The blog has been created by Mike Olkin, an ESRI-authorised ArcGIS instructor. There are nine articles posted under the 3D GIS section. Most of the articles are based on 3D models developed for the town of Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. The blog also features sections on SketchUp, Google Earth, ArcGIS 9.2, Resources and ArcGIS Server.


All Points Blog
Gary Smith from Green Mountain GeoGraphics, Ltd.,shares his take on the new version of SketchUp and what he knows about its integration in the GIS world in this article. He discusses two new additions to the software, namely, Photo Match and Layout which enable users to build and add 3D content to their existing designs.


Earthware Blog
The author has put together a list of new features that Microsoft is in the process of development into the Virtual Earth, version 5. The features that will be ready for release by summer include Support For Mac’s Safari Browser, Mobile API / Tileserver, Rooftop accuracy geocoding for US. Other features that would be available in the near future are the Polygon Searching and native GIS support, Better Custom, Image Overlays, Map Metadata, Street side views, Improved 3D Model Textures, Support for a 3D Model Community and Licensing for use of imagery outside of Virtual Earth. There are articles in other featured sections (General Mapping, Google Earth, Google Maps and Microsoft Virtual Earth) that make for a good read.


Web 3D Consortium
The Web3D Consortium defines and evolves the X3D royalty-free open standards file format and run-time architecture to represent and communicate 3D scenes and objects using XML over the Web and networks.

It is an ISO ratified standard that provides a system for the storage, retrieval and playback of real time graphics content embedded in applications, all within an open architecture to support a wide array of domains and user scenarios. The community blog provides a forum for discussion regarding the utility, applications and developments in X3D.

Trulia Blog
The blog features Trulia, a new add-on to Google Earth that enables you to search for real estate in 3D! Trulia also enables you to opt for daily feeds that match your real estate search requests and view the search results in Google Earth. The articles available under the sections titled ‘Mapping’ and ‘Geocoding’ can be useful for people searching for information on real estate in the US.


This blog has been created by architecture students. It serves as a platform to showcase their projects. Most of the papers that have been posted have a 3D component. The post on ‘Seismic City’ has the ingredients required for an interesting and informative read.


Blogs Containing Articles on 3D
“Microsoft Challenges Google Earth With 3D City Maps”
The article elaborates upon how Virtual Earth 3D from Microsoft can challenge the dominance of Google Earth.“The only way that it can truly surpass Google Earth is to introduce features that are not present in Google Earth” is a defining statement in the sense that only the ‘new features’ will determine whether Microsoft’s new software can truly surpass Google Earth or not.

“Google Earth Technical and Non-technical Aspects Explained”
This article gives the readers an idea regarding how it produces 3D images of the entire globe. The article also provides a link to the NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission or SRTM (https://srtm. usgs.gov/) data that is used by Google to generate the digital elevation models (DEMs).

The DEMs and GIS data are together used to produce the 3D world images that we see on Google Earth. The SRTM used radar instruments to collect data for the most detailed, near global topographic map of the Earth ever made.

“Tibet in 3D”
The article gives an insight into how a Non-Governmental Organization called ‘Machik’ is working to bring Tibet out of oblivion, through a set of online projects that bring information about Tibet. This information would not only help others to know about this mystical land but also help Tibetans preserve their cultural heritage. The Lhasa Neighbourhood Project has been explained in some detail in this article. To quote, “it overlays the boundaries of traditional neighbourhoods over the contemporary map, neighbourhoods that remain only in stories and memories. People can explore these neighbourhoods via map and and 360 degree photo panoramas. This means that students in rural villages can see sites like the Parkour Plaza, the plaza outside the holiest of all temple.” The blog is hosted by Ethan Zuckerman, who is working at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School as a research fellow.