Esri and the 3rd dimension

With Esri’s ever expanding software stack it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the variety of software solutions available. One of the main areas of growth is Esri’s collection is its answer to 3D GIS. Fully utilising the extra dimension has come difficult to the GIS sector in the past (which is historically mostly two-dimensional in terms of application). Esri’s recent focus on developing a 3D stack which fully embraces three-dimensional analysis, content generation and visualisation with the emphasis on sharing 3D scenes with non-technical users has led to mainly two desktop applications, ArcGIS Pro and CityEngine. This blog post will have a look at both of these applications by discussing the capabilities and when to use them through a typical use-case for an area around central Johannesburg.

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CityEngine or ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro:

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ArcGIS Pro allows users to seamlessly integrate traditional two-dimensional GIS with 3D data in a single application interface. Using the 3D Analyst extension a user can perform various 3D analysis on GIS data including line of sight, volumetric calculations, viewshed calculations as well as working with LAS datasets, as well as the traditional GIS analysis methods like proximity, overlay and statistical analysis. For more information regarding the 3D Analyst extension visit: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/extensions/3danalyst.

The image below shows a Johannesburg scene showing 3D textured buildings, analytical representation of trees and extruded polygons showing the various zones and height restrictions of the buildings. This gives the user the ability to quickly see which building exceed their height restrictions.

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Overlay 3D buildings and zonal restrictions in ArcGIS Pro

Next we need to calculate how the shadows in the city change over course of a specific day, and share the result with external users.

Use the Sun Shadow Volume geoprocessing tool (3D Analyst) to calculate the shadow volumes. In the example below the analysis were done between 08:00 and 16:00 for every two hours.

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Sun shadow volume tool

The resulting multipatch represents the shadow volumes created by each building at a specific time. ArcGIS Pro has the ability to cycle through these time-enabled data to create a seamless animation of the shadow movement.

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Shadow movement over the course of the day

Share the scene to either ArcGIS Online or Portal with ease. An example web scene for of the shadow analysis mentioned above can be viewed here.

*The next blog post will focus on the various 3D sharing techniques available in the ArcGIS Platform

ArcGIS Pro is a powerful tool for performing 3 dimensional analysis on GIS data. However, although ArcGIS Pro has 3D editing capabilities, its primary function is not 3D content creation. CityEngine on the other hand was designed especially for quick content generation on a large scale.

CityEngine:

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CityEngine’s ability to dynamically create and compare urban scenarios quickly makes it a favourite among urban developers, local governmental authorities, township planners as well as the entertainment industry.

The key behind CityEngine’s quick content generation is its own procedural scripting language called CGA. These scripts or rules are basically a set of sequential tasks that guides the software to create accurate 3D geometries.

By applying different rules to the same datasets, we are able to generate various 3D representations. In the example below, we can see that in the larger view a more realistic scenario is generated displaying textured buildings and highly detailed trees. The inserted image shows the same datasets represented differently to produce a more analytical scenario of the data.

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Using CGA rules creates multiple scenarios quickly using the same data

In another example, an urban designer might want to compare scenarios for a redevelopment project. In the image below CityEngine is used to compare high rising buildings, office spaces and apartment building designs.

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Comparing redevelopment strategies in CityEngine

A CityEninge scene can be easily shared in a variety of ways. These include:

A CityEngine webscene is a static version of the CityEngine scene. All models, terrains and networks generated in CityEngine is compressed into a single .3ws file. This file can then be added as an item in ArcGIS Online or Portal, and when opened creates a browser based 3D environment that allows user-driven navigation and interaction. An example of the CityEngine web scene can be found here.

The image above shows examples of:

  • comparing real-world and analytical scenes (top left)
  • comparing redevelopment scenarios (top right)
  • adding HTML embedded attributes such as Google Streetview (bottom)

Datasets can also be exported to a Scene layer package. A Scene layer package has the ability to publish hosted scene layers which represents 3D data as a feature service, when added to either ArcGIS Online or Portal.

CityEngine also has the ability to share a scene as a 360 Virtual Reality experience. This creates a .3vr file which can be shared to ArcGIS online. Using a Samsung Gear VR headset along with the ArcGIS 360 VR app from Esri Labs, you are able to explore scenes in a fully immersive 3D virtual reality.

Find the Johannesburg 360 virtual reality scene here.

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For more information about creating a 360 VR experience in CityEngine go to the Esri CityEngine Help.

Powered by ArcGIS – An OMS solution deployed in less than a week!

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What do potholes and electric outages have in common?  Like puncturing a tyre when hitting an unexpected pothole, power disruptions can cause emotional and economic havoc.  Most South Africans can recall the power crisis of 2015 which disrupted many lives and caused damage to the economy.  For most, the power cuts were unexpected and often lead to financial consequences such as replacing damaged home appliances, or psychological effects such as missing their favourite prime time TV show.

Our customers in the Electric utilities industry have realised the value and benefits of improving their Outage Management System to better serve the economy and community at large.  By implementing the ArcGIS platform, electric utilities are managing outages by integrating systems and geo-enabling both employees and the public through the power of location.

The utility’s GIS is usually the source of the network model whereby advanced location analytics enables smarter outage predictions and mapping.  Eskom is an example of a customer who has embraced the use and benefits of the ArcGIS platform to visualise outages on their electrical network.

In an article published in the November 2016 issue of the PositionIT magazine, Gerhard Brits, Keagen Liebenberg and Shaun Goodbrand from Eskom explained how they leveraged the ArcGIS platform to create a national 2016 voting station outage web mapping application in only 5 days.  By consuming information form two separate systems for multiple and single customer outages (FMS and CC&I) the team created links between reported faults and the 22 614 voting stations which allowed them to visualise which voting stations were experiencing outages.  ArcGIS for Server was used to host and publish data exposed by desktop and web clients. Portal of ArcGIS was used to control access to the platform and Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS was used to create application-specific tools.

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“The combination of these software utilities provides a very agile environment that allows the team to respond to user requirements in a timely manner” – Gerhard Brits.

For more information on this project, see http://www.ee.co.za/article/national-2016-voting-station-outage-map.html#.WHjjI8vRbqA

Esri helps you answer the question of “where” and solve real world problems.  You transform your utility operations when you can quickly query, analyse, and understand your data.  Esri provides a complete system that allows you to integrate disparate data, access and update information from the office or the field, and maintain a real-time view of all operations.  More than maps and applications, Esri gives you the location analytics you need to save time, lower costs, and satisfy customers.

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Example of an OMS operations dashboard configured with ArcGIS

Acknowledgements: Gerhard Brits, Keagen Liebenberg and Shaun Goodbrand from Eskom