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Submission for GeoVis Project Assignment RyersonGeo, SA, Fall Interactive City Models One of the most useful visualization and planning tools used in urban planning and design is the 3D model: a to-scale representation of the built form of a city, its existing and as-built conditions and its proposed or possible conditions. A 3D model effectively communicates information about the proportion, size, and distribution of structures and other urban elements, that when well made and presented is intuitively grasped by the people that are viewing it.

A principal drawback to most 3D models is that they are physical models, and they take a lot of time to create, to modify, and can only be shared with an audience who is physically present.

Yet, there are drawbacks to this approach, too. For one, these models can only be shared with users that have the same or similar software of the kind that was used to create the model. For users who do not have the correct software, static or animated representations of the model are made which, while they can still convey information, do not allow the user make choices on what aspects of the model they want to view or explore. Beyond this technical problem, the models are not geographic and they are not data-driven.

There is no way to know what building or open space you are looking at without asking someone who is familiar with the model. Informal exploration is just too limited. One way to solve these problems is to store and view 3D model information in CloudCities. The graphical rendering is done through ThreeJS, a javascript library used to build and render 3D objects in a browser.

It is one of several platforms that blend geographic information within a 3D environment see here and here for further examples.

CloudCities allows users to upload 3D model information, such as a building, tree, vehicle, or terrain, as well as their attributes. Not all 3D information can be uploaded for instance, stylized 3D lines or other non-geographic 3D visualizations are not generally possible. CloudCities is built to store and view 3D models as opposed to general 3D visualizations , and specifically 3D models of cities multiple buildings, blocks, terrain, etc. The 3D information from the City of Toronto is of high quality, but it is released in several formats, and not all of these formats contain equivalent data.

Out of all of the data available, the 3D CAD information is the most detailed and accurate but it is harder to work with.

While there are other ways to create a functional CloudCities scene, uploading from ArcScene is the most straightforward, though it is certainly not an option for everyone see the Asset import tutorial , especially when they do not have ArcScene or 3D Analyst available to use! Rhinoceros model of Kerr Hall above and a multipatch of the Ryerson Student Center below I manually modelled Kerr Hall because I wanted it to be more detailed than that stored within the City of Toronto dataset.

The modelling was done in Rhino. The model was then exported from Rhino into. Complex Data Terrain surfaces and trees which can be very complex objects were not added to this model because of the eventual data size requirements, but in order for these elements to look good and not awkward, they must be of sufficient detail.

In addition, terrain requires that buildings sit on top of the surface, but the buildings modelled by the City do not account for an uneven grade around the base what is known as Finished Floor Elevation. While this detail can be made within the models, the eventual time required would have been onerous. User Experience UX highlights In the CloudCities model, buildings contain a name, whether they are Ryerson University buildings, the planning zone they fall within e.

These attributes serve as the basis for dashboards and a search bar. The dashboard displays these vital statistics whenever a building object is clicked. Dashboard reveals attributes when a building is clicked. The search functions are limited, however — there are no advanced queries supported by CloudCities. Instead, various constraints on searches must be set on the back end to make sure that a particular search does not return any object that fulfills any small dimension of the attribute data.

This is a particularly relevant feature when sending the model to others, as the locations are stored with the scene, and literally move the user point of view around the model in order to tell a story. Sun and shadow controls Limitations of CloudCities One of the main limitations of CloudCities is that it is not customizable from a development point of view. A user is limited to pre-set dashboard, search, and styling options. The range of 3D visualizations possible is limited.

It would be nice to have a platform that incorporates more options for presenting thematic data that goes beyond dashboards and search bars. There is a lot of 3D data that does not manifest itself in a 3D structure. Despite these limitations, CloudCities provides an easy-to-use platform for making and viewing 3D city models. The final model can be viewed on CloudCities here.


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