In its first version, SmartBetterCities’ released CloudCities virtual reality tool, that can be imported from CityEngine, SketchUp and GoogleEarth. CloudCities is an online platform for hosting, sharing and visualizing smart 3D city models. The models are based on OpenStreetMap, are lightweight and used mostly by mobile users, with an easy drag-and-drop workflow. It was used in a development review at Harvard University urban campus in Kindle Square, where building sensors and monitoring were integrated into visualization.
CloudCities’ newest release includes a massive 3D format support plus the marriage of BIM and GIS data in its 3D Mash-Up feature, plus support for numerous well-known GIS and BIM formats. CEO and co-founder Antje Kunze talked to GISCafe Voice about this exciting new release.
Revit model placed on 3D Map from Jan at SmarterBetterCities on CloudCities.
GISCafe Voice: Will the objects have relationships with each other in the new release?
Are you referring to our scene object? We refer to objects as the smallest pieces inside a CloudCities web scene. They can be selected edited, equipped with attributes, searched for, presented in dashboards, organized on layers and streamed. However, objects are not cross-referenced and have no parametric behavior. That might come in one of the next two releases.
GISCafe Voice: What makes it possible to combine BIM and GIS?
BIM and GIS exchange workflows are quite time-consuming. Therefore we included a massive 3D format support to CloudCites to make things much easier. But the real enabler for marrying BIM with GIS data is CloudCities’s 3D Mash-Up feature. It is like a 10-minute recipe. Users can now combine multiple files from BIM and GIS inside a single web scene. Or they upload 3D files as asset models. Assets can be then added to a CloudCities web scene by using drag and drop. If your data comes with attributes, you can immediately set up 3D search and dashboards. And you can use CloudCities to add geolocation or attributes – if you do not have any in your 3D. Beautiful and straightforward.
We currently support Esri 3D web scene (.3ws), Collada (.dae), Autodesk FBX, Google Earth (3D .kmz), Trimble SketchUp (.skp) and Wavefront Object (.obj). The next CloudCities releases will add support for IFC, REST service communication and more.
GISCafe Voice: Can you give me a sample workflow, of how this would work for someone building or making a city model?
Just imagine that you are an architect. Typically, you would iterate your design a couple of times, but clients would like to see the urban context. You received a 3D city model in a GIS format. Now you can combine your design data from your 3D CAD or BIM application with that model. Just by sharing everything online and mobile. There are more examples: civil engineers that want to have their subsurface piping from Autodesk Infraworks shown inside a city. Urban planners can use CloudCities to visualize zoning from Esri CityEngine or ArcGIS Pro and to let architects evaluate their designs. Facility managers can now combine their asset solution with GIS and BIM data. Before it was one or the other. Or even if you just like to update a 3D map for enterprise or university campus: You have your existing 3D base map in CloudCities. Now that a new building is added you can simply bring it in 3D into your online map and place it using the CloudCities editor. Or you are an engineer that needs to monitor and communicate construction progress. You take a 3D city model for context; you bring in your 3D construction plans and overlay with your latest drone flight 3D capture.
GISCafe Voice: Do you feel this will have equal value for both BIM and GIS users?
Yes, of course. BIM and GIS users always have looked at the other side of the fence. People had been longing for these new abilities for a long time.