On the Need for a Unified 3D Data Model for the Built Environment

I believe one of the most pressing needs now that we see 3D technologies beginning to scale, driven in part by the application developers in the mass market like Floored, is a unified 3D data model. By unified I mean embracing all types of data – CAD, GIS, point clouds, energy related, video, you name it.

I began my quest for this type of data integration in the mid-1980’s when a small group of us thought of Arc CAD two years before Esri. The history of that product deserves it’s own discussion, but needless to say we are not any closer to true integration today they we were then.

So why even bother? Maybe we don’t really need a unified data model. How would it benefit those of us involved with 3D and the Built Environment? I think it’s simple. We are being overwhelmed with data. BIG Data is the buzzword in many sectors, such as the smart grid and as we know with mobile LiDAR.

The state of Utah has the collected the entire state highway network with 3D LiDAR, video still photography and more, but there is no standard model for how to organize that data. If you agree that in the end it is all about data and that we need to effectively manage large data then the first step is to create a unifying data model.

Any interest?


  • Can’t fault the aim of this piece as I understand it.

    Doesn’t the scope of E57 look to cover some of this requirement?

    Or are you headed somewhere else with this?

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