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February 18th, 2009
Extending 3D Models Beyond Application Dead Ends

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Geospatial technologies are increasingly incorporating more detailed, dynamic and real-time information. The move to 3D data and models removes a layer of abstraction, and creates immersive environments that more closely resemble and model the real world. As these systems continue to compile more realistic and holistic views of our world, three dimensional data will be of increasing importance.

Three-dimensional models of buildings and cities contain intelligence that connects details about their construction with the systems that operate and maintain them. Ultimately, intelligent 3D models will interface with sensors and communicate with other systems and numerous actors for a realistic and up-to-date picture of our world. In order for this vision to become a reality, we need compatibility and connectivity between different tools, data types and data models.

Interoperability between different systems can be overcome with a process known as spatial extract, transform and load (ETL). Spatial ETL solutions, such as Safe Software’s FME, effectively solve interoperability issues by seamlessly translating and transforming data in various formats between different toolsets and different data models.

As society becomes more urbanized, the need for detailed 3D city models for holistic city management becomes imperative. Different file formats and data models for 3D plans and digital cities will undoubtedly arise. While cross-industry interoperability efforts will solve some issues between these differences, there will always be a need for tools that address translation and transformation workflows.

As spatial ETL solutions evolve to better solve 3D interoperability challenges, it will open up the door to a whole new world of possibilities for those wanting to use and leverage their 3D data and 3D models. Instead of stove-piped interfaces to specific data types with specific tools, the true value of 3D information will be revealed with a means to seamlessly integrate data across different tools, systems and models.

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