Improved Data Integration for 3D City Models

HK 1Building more accurate 3D city models is a challenge since no one remote sensing platform is capable of supplying all of the data. This paper presents various aspects of integrating data from different laser scanning technologies (terrestrial and airborne), which are at the moment considered to be the most detailed and accurate systems for the direct acquiring of 3D geodata.

The main issue discussed in the paper is the integration of data in the form of point clouds acquired from different laser scanning systems. Integration will be understood here as an appropriate processing of both sets of data for orientation into a uniform spatial coordinate system. Thus, the problem of extracting characteristic points common for both sets, in a way which will allow for obtaining a basis for building a complete and accurate 3D city model, will be fundamental.

The main challenge when performing this task is to correctly and accurately specify the homologous point pairs used in 3D transformation when both data sets characterise different accuracy, density and content. In the present paper, manual (direct), semi-automatic (indirect determination of characteristic points by approximation) and automatic (3D model) methods for extracting characteristic points are presented, along with the results of an accuracy assessment. Furthermore different transformation methods (isometric, conformal and affine) are also verified, compared and analysed.

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Human Lasers

laser-cells-537x358This is truly amazing. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that they can get human cells to emit light in a tightly focused beam; in other words – a laser beam. They actually found three different methods for doing this. Who new?

What’s the reason this is important? Tagging cells with fluorescent dyes is “a common and relatively easy way for researchers to label cells by getting them to emit light,” according to New Scientist. However, this process produces a range of wavelengths that make it difficult to distinguish between cells that are tagged differently. Laser light has a narrow range of wavelengths, so every cell in the human body could have a unique, identifiable signature. Incredible.

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Consumer Lidar Investment

delphiDelphi has also made a strategic investment in 3D LiDAR sensing company, Quanergy. Quanergy is a privately-held, Silicon-Valley-based technology company developing smart sensing solutions for real-time 3D mapping and object detection, tracking, and classification.

It said those two strategic moves strengthen Delphi’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) applications and could help speed the adoption of automated vehicles. The ability to detect objects and execute digital mapping, surface modelling and distant imaging is enabled by the use of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) scanners.

Are you surprised that this investment was made in a start-up rather than one of the industry leaders in 3D laser scanning? I am not.

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3D Forensic Animations

accidentEmma Alberici from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation speaks with Craig Fries, the founder and chairman of Precision Simulations based in California, who has created or directed over 1,200 3D forensic animations for use in criminal and civil expert in the field of 3D forensic animations.

It’s a well done interview that covers accuracy, admissibility, cold cases and more.


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hereOne of the more important issues to be discussed at the recent TRB AFB80 Committee meeting this week was the issue of 3D highway design models not being suitable for construction, particularly when automated machine guidance is being used to move the dirt and install the pavement. This creates major problems in the field.

I like to refer to this as the constructability of the model. Most highway design engineers do not understand and/or have the time consider this which has lead to a cottage industry of data takeoff pros who translate the design into machine control files that are not only more densely graded,but that recognize the limitations of the equipment.

This is not as much of an issue in vertical construction, but for horizontal the system is broken and it needs to be fixed. One idea might be to add a “Construction Engineer” into the workflow to cover these issues. Improved education of designers would also help.

What do you think?

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JRC Outperfoms

A team of researchers from the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s in-house science service, has outperformed a global mix of 27 teams from academia and industry, achieving the best overall result at a recent Microsoft-sponsored indoor localization competition in Seattle – and 3D, real-time LiDAR sensor technology from Velodyne proved to be key to the victory.

The competition, organized annually by Microsoft, gathers teams to evaluate the performance of various localization systems. Providing accurate position information on people and objects indoors, where GPS signals are not available, has long been a challenge for governments and industry. The competition was carried out in two categories — infrastructure-based systems, pegged to installed radio beacons, and infrastructure-free systems, which rely only on sensor readings. The JRC competed in the infrastructure-free category, where it finished in the top spot, with a localization error of 0.2 m, which also surpassed the best result in the infrastructure-based category.

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terrain360Thanks to Michael Raphael for the heads up on this very interesting use of outdoor imagery. It’s not lidar, at least not yet, but it is a very cool use of panoramic photography. is your interactive trail companion providing 360 degree panoramic tours of some of the most beautiful terrain in and around Virginia. After an incredible day of hiking and kayaking down one of Virginia’s finest waterways, the founding partners of beached themselves on an island and began brainstorming over what would soon become the most innovative trail mapping software to date. Motivated by the desire to share a love for nature’s most remarkable terrain, Terrain360 continues to push the boundaries of technical capabilities and usability in an effort to better enhance your next outdoor adventure.

Discover trails for hiking, biking, running, horseback riding, water features for kayaking and rafting, competitive race terrain and much more. Connect and share stories with other adventure seekers in the Terrain360 Forum or preview trail and weather conditions to help plan your next trip. is absolutely free to use and available on all mobile and tablet devices for convenient access on-the-go! Make a new adventure. Explore a new trail. Discover a new perspective with Terrain360.

Posted in Business Development, cultural heritage, Environmental, Mapping | Leave a comment

TRB Committee Meeting

I’ll be in Indianapolis attending one of my favorite annual events the summer meeting of the TRB AFB80 committee meeting. This is the Geospatial Data Acquisition Technologies in Design and Construction and not only do we share ideas and information on the latest technologies and trends within the geospatial and geomatics industry as it applies to the DOTs we have also been known to have a little fun from time to time.

This year’s agenda includes presentations on the White House Perspective on Pipelines, Underground Utility Infrastructure by John Palatiello, A Road Map to Accuracy by Lewis Graham and A Proposed AFB80 Initiative with AASHTO from Curtis Clabaugh and that is just the first morning.

Stay tuned for updates from Indy.

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BIM Standard Released

BIMFollowing a multi-year effort, the National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART alliance® released the latest edition of the nation’s consensus-based standard governing building information modeling (BIM). From planning and design through construction and operations, the National BIM Standard-United States® (NBIMS-US™) Version 3 (V3) covers the full life cycle of buildings.

“BIM is a powerful tool that can change the way our industry designs, constructs, operates and maintains facilities,” said the vice chair of the NBIMS-US™ V3 Project Committee, Jeffrey W. Ouellette, Assoc. AIA, IES. “The National BIM Standard-United States® Version 3 provides industry professionals with the necessary guidance to set that process in motion.”

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Dumb Point Clouds

AWB_5639-2-onlineHere’s the problem with laser scanners – they are dumb, or as they point out in this article from the UK, “Whilst the point cloud gives a dimensionally-accurate 3D representation, from a BIM perspective it is still very much dumb data with little embedded information.”

To support the use of BIM the point cloud and legacy data can be used as a base to create a Revit model which contains data-rich components with built-in parameters to enable additional asset data to be introduced. This embedded data can then provide a wealth of information for renovation, construction, facilities management and, indeed, the asset lifecycle of the station itself.

This project was undertaken by Bridgeway Consulting for the UK’s Network Rail. It was a large-scale project to create a 3D digital model of Liverpool Street Station in London. The model was to be based largely on 3D laser scan data collection in the field by surveying teams, which would then be supplemented and cross-checked against existing asset records.

The logistics of producing such a model relied heavily on integrating data with some 29,000 legacy drawings from the archive in York, some of which dated back to the original construction of the station in the late 1800s.

Relying on these drawings alone would import a large element of risk when producing a current as-built record so, to supplement the model, over 600 fully-coordinated 3D HDS laser scans were produced of the entire station.

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