One World. Big Data.

LiDAR and imaging technologies capture the natural and built environments in unique ways. 3D spatial visualisation provides a reality mirror for confident decision making.

A history lesson

In the early 1940s, 2 photographs were published which for the first time brought viewers to a single point above Earth to see all of the continents.

One World, One War (left) depicted the rapidly growing conflict of World War II, while the Fuller Projection Map (right) is the only flat map of the entire surface of the Earth which reveals our planet as one island in one ocean.

Buckminster Fuller intended his projection map to be unfolded in different ways to emphasise different aspects of the world. In the late 1960s, Fuller was particularly involved in creating World Game®.

This large-scale simulation aimed to help humanity better understand and benefit from the world’s resources.

Fuller’s World Game was to be played inside the Geoscope, an immersive environment for Earth information. The Geoscope was a tool for a more mature technological time, offering experiential opportunities to discover vast amounts of information in geospatial context.

Fuller’s Geoscope was predictive as the first interactive geo-environment that would take advantage of the computing power that is available to us now.

The now

Spatial disciplines ‘mirror’ our physical world in its digital counterpart. Innovations in 3D printing, numerical control and self-assembly robotics enable the realisation of digital ‘bit based’ models. 3D printers can fabricate increasingly complex artefacts from human organs to tall buildings to coral reefs.

This interplay between the physical and digital worlds creates an arena in which innovation can take place, and opens exciting opportunities for developing new knowledge economies.

The spatial industry dramatically reshapes the way we view infrastructure and asset management. Imagery, point cloud and survey data collated from the natural and built environment are structured into models, which can be augmented by precision data of the physical world.

Vast amounts of data are collected during the process of exploring for minerals, developing a resource model and mine plan, conducting feasibility and approval studies, and constructing, commissioning and operating a mine.The challenge is to recognise where the value lies in this body of data and take advantage of the convergence of computing, global communication, visualisation and simulation tools to develop systems to apply it profitably.

The result is rich, full lifecycle models offering a multiplicity of applications and facilitating high level collaboration between stakeholders.

The multi-dimensional data modelled and tested can be visualised so that we can make best use of it in specific tasks such as simulating floods or seismic risk.

The future

Visualisation of rich data can be delivered through many metaphors - animated 3D scenarios, info-graphics, reports or logic diagrams. These must be fit for purpose. For example, a map of the London Underground is better for catching a train than an interactive 3D model of the city.

Super computer clusters and cloud computing will service the increasingly complex models and massive demands for data storage, computation and visualisation. As the spatial industry matures, greater diversity will continue to drive innovation and opportunity.

Thanks to Richard Simpson, Spatial Industries Business Association (Queensland)
Extract from Keynote Address to Maptek Users Conference, Brisbane, 2013