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One of the new generation of geospatial-related conferences that I have attended for two years now is Location Intelligence for Enterprise USA. It is not a traditional GIS conference but includes talks about vertical business challenges in the commercial space that have benefited from geospatial data and technology. This year it was hosted by Natasha Léger, Editor, LBx Journal and included speakers from Fedex (managing infrastructure), IBM Business Analytics (business intelligence), Walgreens (retail), Microsoft Azure (cloud computing), Jones Lang Lasalle (Healthcare), Thomson Reuters (predictive analytics), Piteny Bowes (business rules in the cloud), Nate Hole of Loeb and Loeb (privacy), and I talked about gaming and data visualization.
Indoor mapping and tracking
One of the panel discussions focussed on indoor location and mappping. It was moderated by George Percivall, Chief Architect and Executive Director of the OGC Interoperability Program, and included Kipp Jones, Chief Architect ,Skyhook, Ankit Agarwal , CEO, Micello Inc, Corey Mandell, Chief Technology Officer, Point inside and Chris Galo, Regional Director of Sales, Aeroscout.
To kick it off George Percivall gave an overview of where things stand wit respec to indoor location. He mentrioned that the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has initiated an IndoorGML Indoor Location Standards Working Group. The objective of the working group to provide a common schema framework for interoperability between indoor navigation applications as well as to integrate indoor space and outdoor space in a seamless way. Indoor mapping is already supported by Google and Bing. Micello is in the business of creating indoor maps of major venues around the world. Most of the activity seems to be focussed on consumers and locations such as malls, airports and department stores. A typical indoor application would help you find particular products in a mall or department store.
The major problem that distinguishes indoor from outdoor location and mapping is that there is no indoor equivalent of GPS. When you are outside of buildings on most of the Earth's surface you can use GPS to determine where you, other people and things are. As soon as you walk into a building, GPS no longer works and it is difficult to automatically track people and objects. For example, to be able to track a firefighter in a building that has not been prepared in advance remains a challenge.
There have been a number of attempts to solve this problem. Aeroscout, recently acquired by Stanley Black & Decker, uses Wifi signals from transmitters with known locations to triangulate locations to with an accuracy of 10-15 feet. Other technologies involve tracking cell phone location by triangulation, RFID, accelerometers, or tracking by low frequency radio frequency waves that are not as affected by walls as high frequency waves. Recently magnetic anomaly-based indoor positioning using smart phones has been developed by IndoorAtlas.
Another challenge is 3D location in tall buildings, translating an elevation in meters or feet to a particular floor and vice versa.
The industry is also facing a serious lack of standards right now like, for example, the CityGML standard for everything outside of buildings. So the OGC's IndoorGML working group initiative is opportune. In the Netherlands there is a working group associated with Geonovum and the Dutch 3D cadastre that is attempting to align the CityGML ADE GeoBIM standard and the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) BIM standard maintained by BuildingSmart. IFC is intended to enable the exchange of BIM data between applications developed by different software vendors in a vendor-neutral way. The objective of the work group is to define a standard, semantically meaningful mapping between IFC and GeoBIM.
The business benefit of indoor location is significant because it increases the value of your assets - when you can locate equipment and facilities easily, you will use them more. In the case of hospitals it can be a matter of life and death to find the "crash cart" in seconds rather than minutes.
The land administration system in Australia is widely regarded to be of high quality and integrity, but as in Canada, the lack of a single federal authority with responsibility for land administration makes it difficult to aggregate information collected at local and state levels up to the national level. This represents an inhibitor to understanding increasingly complex urban challenges from a national perspective.
In 2011 the federal government in consultation with the state governments published the National Urban Policy (NUP) that attempted to delineate the broad urban challenges Australia is facing and the implications for land and property management. The NUP defines the primary goals of government policy as
improving sustainability and resilience of built and natural environment
improving the liveability in terms of housing, transport and community services
improving governance through integration of processes, engagement and evaluation.
In this paper the authors argue that implementing the NUP should be a key driver for the development of a 3D‐LPIS in Australia.
Efficiencies in productivity would be gained from more holistic planning, incorporating social and economic aspects as well as improving transportation modes and improving land use and development. A 3D‐LPIS provides a platform to catalogue and connect ‘above the line’ with ‘below the line’ interests of a given property, resulting in improved analytical capabilities and potentially dramatically improving current regulatory processes.
Improving the sustainability of the built and natural environments involves protection of the environment, improvements in air and water quality, sustainable management and increasing the ability of cities to adapt and respond to natural disasters. Recent Australian legislation on greenhouse gas emissions means that carbon emissions and energy information are becoming mandatory elements of modern land administration system in Australia. A 3D-LPIS would provide the appropriate infrastructure for collecting, managing and visualizing this information, because land and property information is used as the common denominator. This information could then be accessed and used by relevant industries such as risk and disaster management, for example, as a 3D model is already being used for emergency planning and management in Sydney Down Under.
A 3D‐LPIS would help planners achieve better urban design by providing a visual representation to planners and the public of the types of land use currently in place, as well as the types of structures and how these may impact upon the well‐being of residents in adjacent properties. It would help analyze land use by spatial clustering of land use type to ensure an appropriate mixture of land use. And It would provide an intuitive spatial representation of land use policies to foster a better understanding of these policies among the public and evaluate their relevance to the communities they serve.
A 3D‐LPIS could facilitate open access of information and communication between stakeholders by presenting land and property data in an intuitive 3D visualization. This would support federal initiatives supporting open, transparent government in Australia. This system would not only link citizens with governments and industry with each other, it could link the various levels and branches of governments dealing with land and property matters.
At the Geospatial World Forum in Amsterdam, Jantien Stoter of the Delft Univeristy of Technology and an advisor to Geonovum, gave an overview of the ongoing work on the Dutch 3D standard, which is being piloted by about 100 organizations in the Netherlands. Geonovum is the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) executive committee in the Netherlands. Its goal is to provide better access to geo-information in the public sector and is responisble for developing and maintaining the standards for geospatial information that are necessary to achieve this goal.
The Dutch 3D standard integrates CityGML and the Dutch IMGeo standard.
CityGML is an Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standard for 3D information (geometry and semantics) about cities, external to buildings. GeoBIM is a CityGML Application Domain Extension (ADE) intended to extend CityGML to include detailed, semantic information about the inside of buildings. GeoBIM was initiated in 2009. The last official update was completed in 2010.
IMGeo is the Dutch standard for the exchange of large scale geography such as roads, tunnels, water bodies, land use, and so on. IMGeo is intended to be a scale-independent object model providing a uniform nationwide coverage. IMGeo 2.0 contains a mandatory part, the Basisregistratie Grootschalige Topografie (BGT). which has legal status in the Netherlands, plus additonal data. IMGeo is 2D, but is extensible to 2.5D and ultimately to 3D. Like CityGML, IMGeo recognizes levels of detail (LOD).
There are six work groups involved in the Dutch 3D standard effort. For example, one is responsible for compiling killer applications using the 3D standard.
Relationship to IFC
One of the work groups could have broad implications, potentially beyond the borders of the Netherlands, This work group is responsible for aligning the CityGML ADE GeoBIM standard and the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) BIM standard maintained by BuildingSmart. IFC is intended to enable the exchange of BIM data between applications developed by different software vendors in a vendor-neutral way. The objective of the work group is to define a standard, semantically meaningful mapping between IFC and GeoBIM.
At the Geospatial World Forum in Amsterdam, Peter Creuzer, Director State Survey of Lower Saxony, gave a very interesting introduction to land management in Germany and some of the things that are on the horizon.
Germany has about 82 million citizens, or about 229 people per km2, and the population has been declining since 2003. It has about 64.5 million parcels (land properties) valued at about €9 trillion. About 48% of households own land. The land administration system handles about a million transactions per year.
Germany has the same problem that other jurisdictions have, urbanization, but it has limited land resources. It loses about 77 hectares/day to urban sprawl.
Land administration in Germany is comprised of two parts, a land register and the cadastre.The land register includes information about owners, land use, encumbrances, and other legal obligations. The cadastre includes the land parcel geometry, owneship, buildings and public restrictions. The objectives of the land administration system are security of tenure, some revenue for the government, and support for a transparent planning process.
There are some interesting future goals, one of the most important of which is enabling sustainable development. This includes land consolidation and revitalization of older cities.
Another major initiative is revision of the land taxation system which is expected to be completed by 2014. The alternatives that are being considered are taxation based on market value (which is what is used in Ontario), a fixed tax, and a combined system.
There is also a new data model underway based on ISO and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards referred to by the abbreviation AAA, which stands for AFIS (uniform geodetic reference), ALKIS (uniform cadastre), and ATKIS (uniform topography). By 2013 the data model will include support for a 3D cadastre and will include the CityGML standard. It will be accessible via OGC web services; WMS, WFS, and others.
Germany is also working on being compliant with the EU INSPIRE directive. There is a pilot in progess involving the Netherlands, Lower Saxony, and North Rhine Westphalia.
In April 2006 at a conference organized by PDS on Pangkor Island in Malaysia, Professor Alias Abdul Rahman from the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia talked about 3D cadastres, which are more important in Asia, where urban population densities tend to be higher. Professsor Alias outlined three approaches for dealing with 3D cadastres
Administrative tag model - Integrate 2D spatial with tagged information for strata
Hybrid model - Integrate a 2D cadastre with topological information about 3D structures
Full 3D model- Requires a complete overhaul of the cadastre to incorporate three dimensions
Professor Alias had developed a pragmatic solution based on the hybrid model that supported topological queries including adjacency using off the shelf products (COTS), for example, Oracle Spatial and AutoCAD Map 3D.
Singapore's motivation for a 3D cadastre
Yesterday at the Asia Geospatial Forum conference here in Jakarta, Soh Kheng Peng of the Singapore Land Authority, which is reponsible for the cadastre (parcel fabric) in Singapore, gave a riveting presentation on the reasons for the importance of a 3D cadastre in Singapore and what the Singapore Land Authority is doing to implement a full 3D cadastre.
Defining the 3D cadastre problem
Soh Kheng Peng made it very clear that a 3D cadastre is in the cards for Singapore, for several reasions.
Land developers are being very creative and packaging complex volumetric parcels both underground and above ground.
Current survey techniques cannot capture accurate 3D coordinates.
The current 2D GIS used to capture and store cadastral information is unable to represent volumetric parcels.
All strata boundaries are not in the cadastral GIS, making it impossible to perform effective spatial planning for national development goals.
Underground space is heavily used and underground density is increasing. Underground lots are getting very close to each other and accurate delineation of boundaries is required.
First step toward a full 3D cadastre
The Singapore Land Authority has identified priorities for the first step toward a 3D cadastre. The first priority is to change survey procedures to enable surveyors to capture accurate 3D information. This means adopting new technologies and changing legal requirements for surveys. The next priority is to collect sufficient information in a 3D GIS to support national planning goals.
Basis for virtual Singapore
I've blogged about other cities' efforts to create 3D urban models, for example, Vancouver, and a recent software release focussed on conceptual design for 3D urban environments. These have been undertaken for planning purposes, for zoning and other bylaw enforcement such as viewports or right to light, or one of the most remarkable recent efforts, Sydney Down Under, for emergency and disaster planning. But in Singapore Soh Kheng Peng said that the "future 3D cadastre will be the fundamental information for building virtual Singapore." This means that virtual Singapore will not only be a representation of Singapore in 3D, but will incorporate the legal 3D parcel fabric.