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Making of a high-tech nation

Open access to 3D spatial data through Bing Maps and Google Maps has enhanced people’s interest in 3D data. This has lead to a surge in demand of 3D spatial data worldwide. The situation is no different in South Korea where government offices, local governments and private enterprise are rushing to build 3D spatial database to meet demand.

History of 3D spatial data in South Korea
Before 1990, geographic information in South Korea was usually based on digital elevation model (DEM), just like in any other advanced country. In the late 1990s, Korea started building 3D spatial database. It introduced the concept of building information modelling (BIM). One of the first 3D models was created by the Ministry of Information and Communication to study wave propagation. In the late 1990s, the use of mobile phones witnessed a surge in South Korea. So, National Radio Research Agency and telecommunications companies made efforts to build 3D spatial data to measure wave propagation. They built simple 3D spatial data for most of the Korean cities. In the earlier days, 3D spatial data was just like a simple figure without texture information.

In the 2000s, 3D spatial data creation was led by navigation companies. Many 3D navigation tools were launched and so the demand of 3D city models increased. The data for navigation did not only include texture. It also included detailed shape maps of buildings. But one of the key problems was poor height accuracy because it was based on photography.

The country started building a centralised 3D spatial database in 2006. It was a high-cost project, so each organisation agreed for one centralised database. There are different applications of 3D spatial data in different organisations.


Major utilisation of 3D spatial information in South Korea

Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs took responsibility for the construction of 3D spatial database. They used LiDAR instruments for data acquisition. National Geographic Institute, a subsidiary organisation of Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, defined 3D data standards in 2006.

On a pilot basis, 3D spatial database of 28 cities were built in late 2000s. The database is accessible to government offices free of cost.

Demand for high quality 3D spatial data
After successful development of 3D spatial database for 28 cities, the local government units requested for more detailed city models. The government realised that Google Earth was providing 3D data with better resolution than them and hence, public was not interested in their 3D data. Responding to the demands of local government units, Korean government has decided to build high-quality 3D spatial information system. They will invest approximately KRW 200 billion (approximately USD 0.17 billion) from 2012 to 2015. New pilot projects will cover areas including Seoul, EXPO area in Yeosu and Songdo International Business District in Incheon.

To begin with, Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, was mapped in 3D. In 2010, high-quality 3D spatial database of two districts of the city was created. The project was accelerated in 2011 and will be closed by the end of 2012. The 3D spatial data of Seoul includes 1 metre grid DEM model, image data based on true orthophoto, detailed building model of LOD Level 4 and city facilities including bridges, trees and traffic lights.

Especially for the 2012 G20 Summit, indoor map of COEX Convention & Exhibition Center was also prepared. The indoor 3D data is linked with the location tracking system for tracking guests and enhancing security.

Figure1. 3D spatial data for central area of Seoul

EXPO 2012 Yeosu Korea
For EXPO 2012 Yeosu Korea, buildings of Yeosu city were mapped in 3D. The 3D data incorporated more detailed texture through ground photographs. That data aids EXPO 2012 Yeosu Korea, the public relations department and navigation for tourists.

Figure2. 3D spatial data information for EXPO 2012 Yeosu Korea

Songdo International Business District in Incheon
In 2011, buildings of Songdo International Business District in Incheon were mapped for management and PR department. It was led by Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) in Songdo and Cheongna districts, which covers approximately 169.5 km2. The 3D data is based-on LOD Level 4 by Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.

Figure3. Example building 3D spatial data information in Songdo International Business District

Korean Spatial Information Open Platform
Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs provides access to 3D data through “Korean Spatial Information Open Platform”. This platform is also known as “Korean Google Earth Platform”. It is accessible at www.vworld.kr. Post July 20, 2012, this platform provides updated cadastral map of the country and zoning service. People can use this platform in city planning, architectural designing, research, finding suitable trade areas and so on. In addition, it can be used in disaster prevention, promoting tourism, sports etc.

South Korea is using detailed 3D spatial data in various projects. At the same time, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs is keen to innovate this technology and offer new services. Additionally, it aims to integrate 3D spatial data system with mobile mapping system and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to provide real time information. It will be possible with high-speed Internet environment and IT technology in Korea. Integration of 3D spatial data with indoor data like BIM will promote augmented reality-based services and in true sense will help in embodying the concept of Ubiquitous-City (U-City).