Advanced City Models Targets Navigation and Location Based Games
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Advanced City Models Targets Navigation and Location Based Games

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Industry News
Advanced City Models Targets Navigation and Location Based Games
By Susan Smith

A partnership with the Norwegian company BLOM has made it possible for Tele Atlas to offer their latest product, Advanced City Models. Like its predecessor, 3D City Maps, Advanced City Models is a collection of 3D content types, but this new product takes it a step further with the technology of BLOM, which specializes in oblique imagery. BLOM takes very high resolution images of cities from all angles which allows Tele Atlas to offer a higher level of detail and photorealistic representations of cities.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
Designed for use in navigation systems and location-based applications, Advanced City Models are 3D representations of major city centers that offer greater clarity and reality of screen images within in-car and portable navigation systems and mobile devices. With Advanced City Models, users should be able to more readily identify their surroundings to help them locate places and services they’re looking for.

In a recent interview with Rik Temmink, Tele Atlas VP of Global Product Management, GISWeekly learned about how the Advanced City Models evolved from 3D City Maps and what the new partnership with BLOM signifies.

Rik Temmink: Our 3D City Maps product came in a number of levels of detail, from basic blocks which we call shoeboxes to blocks with roof structures and then a library of textured models which allowed you to look at a building and say, that looks like a glass fronted building. We would clad the model for that building with bitmap images from the library, as we had some shipping customer applications in the market already with that content. We also did what we call 3D Landmarks of well known buildings in much more detail -- from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe and the White House, recognizable buildings.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
The Advanced City Models product is a next step in 3D models. BLOM has such high resolution imagery we can create a new level of detail with photorealistic cities which are basically the underlying vector 3D models adorned with high resolution imagery. That partnership is very significant as it marries the capability of BLOM, their strengths of having all this detailed imagery, with our capability of inserting those models, aligning them with our map and making them easy to use for our customers, and easy to combine with the base map.

What markets are you targeting with this product?

RT: Some observers have looked at this and said this is just a next step of visualization for navigation applications, that obviously is a key market we’re aiming at. We’re part of a navigation company – Tom Tom. A lot of our key customers build navigation applications either as built in factory fit, in-dash systems or portable PND consumer devices, but we also have customers in a variety of other markets, such as government, enterprise and GIS customers, Some of those are interested in that kind of content. We have companies like PlayStation, a division of Sony, that is also very interested in maps and location content for a variety of things including location based games. This content is applicable to a number of different segments.

What is meant by “lifelike display?”

RT: We have four levels of detail. The highest level of detail involves very high resolution imagery, and it can be converted into lower resolution as well so we’re trying to aim fairly high in terms of the resolution to offer our customers the ability to tune down the resolution so it doesn’t get too heavy to put on a consumer device. Storage is obviously getting cheaper but there is still a bill of material cost associated with storage and also the rendering of high resolution images that also requires some processing power and not all consumer devices have that processing power.

At this point are you relying on consumer devices to have that processing power or are you trying to develop a database that is not so memory intensive?

RT: It’s an ongoing balancing act to get something that looks really good but still renders quickly and doesn’t take too much storage space on a device. The Sony PSP device is an application that Sony sells which has our 3D content in it – that’s a perfect device for this kind of content because it has a very good graphics processor in it. It’s a device designed to do games, and in games you want that fast rendering of lifelike graphics. As with anything in this world, the speed of evolution of technology is pretty fast. Processing power is greater, and flash memory is getting cheaper all the time, so we’re at that inflection point that for even mainstream, in mid range and even low end devices, the capability is there now to make use of this kind of content.

What differentiates Advanced City Models from what you’ve had in the past?

RT: It’s really two different things – the first is the most important: coverage. Over a number of years, we’ve built out 3D models of cities. The way we did that was by effectively surveying the cities from the ground because we had that capability to do field surveying, we didn’t have aerial survey capability. Doing this from the ground is much slower and much more expensive than flying over the top and taking imagery and building models from it. So in the past, our ability to expand coverage quickly at a reasonable cost was the problem. Our partnership with BLOM removes that obstacle so we can build much more quickly at a very cost effective rate. For example, this first batch of city models is 40 cities – in the past we came to slightly more than 40 cities, but it took us 2 ½ years to get there, so we can move much more quickly. The other difference is the photorealistic level of detail. In the past, we couldn’t really get good enough imagery from the ground again to use for these city models which is why we went to the library approach. This involved using bit maps of what a building front might look like, replicated across the front of a building. We still have that level, for some applications that is the right model, because if you use this library texturing it does take far less disk or storage space. With BLOM we now have access to this super high resolution imagery which we can texture on the building block to make it look really lifelike and photorealistic.

In terms of people being able to see these images on their navigation systems, is BLOM or other technology making it easier to view these images?

RT: The models we build are in an industry standard format like VRML and we try and do clever things to reduce the size of the image, for instance, we don’t include facades that aren’t visible. We do a lot of cleanup to remove content that doesn’t add any value and we’ll clean it up to remove artifacts, etc. We’ll do a lot sophisticated work to make the models as light as possible and we publish them in industry standard format. On the device the software application developer would need to choose a renderer that can deal with this kind of content. We offer a standard format that leaves plenty of choice for renderers to operate systems.

There’s a wide range of off-the-shelf technology available that will render our models with different operating systems and devices.

What cities will the first release of Advanced City Models focus on?

RT: The first 40 cities, available immediately, will be across Europe. Over the next 12-18 months we will expand to include cities in North America and Asia Pacific. Through this partnership we can really deliver lots of cities. For manufacturers of navigation devices, it’s great to have this really cool content for a handful of big cities; customers will only want more.


(From the press release) Features that Advanced City Models provide include:
- Lifelike Display with a high level of optical quality that answers the consumer demand for a more realistic, appealing map display;
- Improved Orientation that depicts city centers, complete with city blocks, building textures and notable landmarks, to enhance recognition and guidance; and
- Improved Navigation Experiences with a richer, more attractive visual guide for driving and pedestrian applications.

Top News of the Week

Autodesk, Inc. reported financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 with revenue was $426 million, a decrease of 29 percent compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

"Our revenue results for the quarter continue to reflect the global economic downturn, which is impacting our business on almost every front," said Carl Bass, Autodesk president and CEO. "We made significant progress in our continued effort to improve our cost structure and ongoing efficiencies, which resulted in lower than expected operating costs for the quarter and greater than expected earnings per share and cash flow."

OpenGeo has recently announced that it will offer total integrated support packages for the OpenGeo Suite. The flexible web-mapping stack bundles the best open source geospatial software into a fully supported package. The OpenGeo Suite includes supported versions of the OpenLayers map component, GeoServer application server, and PostGIS spatial database, allowing customers to support a complete open source web-mapping stack under a single contract.

OpenGeo has an open pricing structure, and clients are encouraged to tailor their support hours to meet their unique needs. Every client gets access to core developers of each component of the OpenGeo Suite. OpenGeo has committers on all the projects it supports, ensuring that bugs will get fixed quickly - usually on the order of days or hours instead of weeks or years.

Water/wastewater utilities are one of the leading groups of users adopting Freeance Mobile software for ArcGIS Server and BlackBerry. Water and wastewater utilities are discovering time and cost savings in the field by using BlackBerry smartphones - as a supplement to laptops, to display system maps and acquire numerous types of data. Water/wastewater utilities using Freeance Mobile include San Diego CA County Water, Mobile AL Area Water and Sewer System and Tarrant Regional Water District, Fort Worth TX.

Tele Atlas announced the availability of 3D, photorealistic Advanced City Models. Designed for use in navigation systems and location-based applications, Advanced City Models are three-dimensional representations of major city centers that dramatically raise the clarity and reality of screen images within in-car and portable navigation systems and mobile devices. With Advanced City Models, displays more closely match what users actually see in their surroundings, helping them more easily find locations and services.

OpenLM announces that the ESRI Desktop floating licenses capabilities of OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS has been extended in order to allow better usability of ESRI ArcGIS Desktop Extensions licenses. The new functionality overcomes a built-in disadvantage in the way ArcGIS Desktop software handles extensions. The default behavior is that when a user loads an extension it will never unloads until the user actively does that. With the new release of OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS all licensed extensions can be unloaded on session shutdown, assuring that extensions are only be consumed when they are really needed.

ESRI (UK) has launched the Enterprise Lab; a purpose-designed suite at ESRI (UK)'s HQ that will encourage public bodies and private companies to explore the power and potential of GIS.

Underpinned by an enterprise standard infrastructure comprising the latest ESRI and partner technology, the Enterprise Lab brings data to life, modeling real-world examples to demonstrate how GIS can join up every part of an organization – from local government to utilities to insurance or any other sector - to bring significant benefits.


ERDAS Inc. announced that EDISOFT, S.A. is now the official ERDAS distributor to customers in Portugal. Established in 1988, EDISOFT offers technologically advanced software solutions and highly qualified IT consulting services.

EDISOFT specializes in photogrammetry, remote sensing and the development of critical systems and complex architecture, namely in the technical scope of geospatial consulting solutions.

TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (TCS), a global leader in mission-critical wireless communications technology, has acquired the assets of privately-held LocationLogic LLC, a leading provider of infrastructure, applications, content provisioning, and integration services for deploying and maintaining innovative location-based services (LBS).


GeoWeb conferences focus exclusively on geographic information systems, the Internet, and the economic potential associated with their convergence. GeoWeb 2009 will continue the tradition of focusing on the reciprocal impact of the Web and Geographic Information as well as the ever-increasing need for collaboration in light of global economic and environmental concerns.

GeoWeb 2009 is taking place July 27-31, 2009 in downtown Vancouver, BC Canada at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. The program is available on the GeoWeb Conference Site.

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation announced its official endorsement and leadership support for the development of Penn State Public Broadcasting’s Geospatial Revolution Project, an integrated public media and outreach initiative, about the world of digital mapping and how it’s affecting our world.

Marine geographic information specialist SeaZone announced its latest solutions for the renewable energy sector at All-Energy ’09. The event held in Aberdeen, Scotland, attracted visitors from all aspects of this sector including wind, wave, tidal, hydro, solar and biofuels. SeaZone’s marine geographic information data, software and services support the planning, construction and management of renewable energy developments.

SeaZone clients include E.ON Climate and Renewables, Dong Wind (UK), Scottish Power Renewables and SeaEnergy Renewables who are involved in the development of offshore windfarms in Scotland. Many of the bidders for the Round 3 offshore windfarm developments in England are also users of SeaZone geographic information.


DigitalGlobe announced the resignation of Judith McHale from its board of directors, effective as of May 26, 2009. Ms. McHale joined DigitalGlobe’s board of directors in July 2008 and is resigning to accept the position of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Ms. McHale’s resignation was expected by the Company.

New Products

Field Mapplet is a spatially-enabled mobile e application framework designed to automate utility workflows between the office and the field. The latest release of Field Mapplet has included some major enhancements for both the end-user and administrator. Some of the enhancements include powerful facility network tracing. Field Mapplet 2.0 not only has the ability to do line isolation, for water, but also up stream/down stream tracing for sewer and storm drains. Many user centric enhancements have been made to simplify the use of the application including rapid startup and activation of the interface. A key enhancement has been the ability to provide data sharing by all mobile and office users when it comes to editing and adding GIS data.

Spatial Wave, Inc. announced the release of Mapplet 5.0, which is now shipping to new customers and those on maintenance.

Mapplet is an advanced GIS viewer that takes advantage of proven technology from ESRI and Microsoft to offer a framework for developing in-house GIS portals. Mapplet 5.0 is built on ESRI’s Application Development Framework (ADF) technology and supports both ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS simultaneously. Using Mapplet.NET any organization can build powerful GIS portals with ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS to view and analyze data within hours without the need for any programming. Mapplet.NET has many powerful features which make it an ideal platform for utility companies interested in developing GIS portals that allow them to view and query not only GIS data, but other related facilities databases such as: Customer Maintenance; or Document Management Systems.

Lorienne released the new version of its LorikSoftware suite of cartographic programs. The redesign of LorikSoftware 2.0 is the result of more than one year of development to anticipate technologic and market changes. For this purpose LorikSoftware comes now in two ranges of programs to meet the current trends of cartography.

DBx GEOMATICS inc. announced the release of CartoVista 2.0 with new cartographic publishing tools and application extendibility through Adobe Flex.

The new CartoVista Publisher is a state-of-the-art desktop application designed to support every aspect of a CartoVista 2.0 deployment. The CartoVista Publisher features advanced management tools to create and maintain any maps or data used by the application. It centralizes the management of the users’ map files and style settings so that they can rapidly create maps without having to find map files each time, or reapply style settings. CartoVista Publisher provides tremendous cartographic freedom to create very high quality maps from existing GIS data.

Geographic Technologies Group, Inc. (GTG), a provider of geospatial solutions, announces the release of Geo Blade Route. Geo Blade Route is the latest breakthrough in routing software solutions, providing a state-of-the-art solution perfect for any local government organization. It is ESRI compliant and operates with ArcGIS Server.

ThinkGeo announced the availability of a Map Suite Desktop Edition 3.0 Release Candidate. The Release Candidate incorporates a combination of bug fixes, performance improvements, and new features as requested by ThinkGeo's active user base, providing a major enhancement to the company's leading GIS development software for the Windows desktop.

Geographic Information Services, Inc. (GISi) announced the release of Data Download. Data Download, built on ESRI’s ArcGIS Server 9.3 Flex (API) technology, streamlines the entire GIS data request workflow by empowering users to download data based on layer, viewable extent, or selection. Data Download allows users to specify the file format (CAD & GIS formats) for downloaded data. Data Download also provides a framework to facilitate your organization’s digital submission requirements.

Around the Web

In-Flight Entertainment That Begins With Wi-Fi  by Joe Sharkey, May 25, 2009, The New York Times (registration required) - BY the end of this year, about 1,000 airplanes flying domestic routes will have Wi-Fi service, according to Aircell, the company that has done nearly all of the Wi-Fi installations so far.

Despite impending shutdown, Gitmo to receive new security systems by Jacob Goodwin, Editor-in-Chief, May 26, 2009, Government Security News (GSN) - Even though President Obama has ordered the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be closed in less than a year, the U.S. naval station's contracting office is planning the installation of an improved access control system – including additional surveillance cameras -- at Camp Six, a maximum security detention facility at Guantanamo, and two other facilities which appear to be called "Camp Six Lite" and "Ultra Lite."

ArcNews Online - ArcGIS 9.3.1 Delivers Optimized Map Services
ArcGIS 9.3.1 presents a new option in the author-serve-use workflow; map documents can now be analyzed, then optimized to create faster, higher-quality, dynamic map services. As a result, map service and Web application end users will experience dramatically improved online performance, including much faster drawing speeds and better-looking maps.



GeoTec 2009
Date: June 1 - 4, 2009
Place: Vancouver Convention Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

GeoTec 2009 is proud to be back in Vancouver, the founding home of the conference in 1985. The GeoTec Event offers its attendees high caliber and timely presentations from knowledgeable industry leaders, geospatial technologists and users from Canada and the world.

Sponsored by GeoTec Media, publisher of GeoWorld magazine and developer of the Web portal, the 23rd annual event GeoTec Event is a world-leading technical event, and the largest geospatial technology event n Canada.

GIS: Real Business Value
Date: June 1 - 2, 2009
Place: Houston, TX USA

Today's competitive business environment has required organizations to become more diligent about their Information Technology (IT) investments. Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) are no different.

This has meant that business units advocating or using GIS must now compete for their share of a limited, and often shrinking, capital IT budget

Midwest Infrastructure & GIS Technical Conference
Date: June 1 - 4, 2009
Place: 725 Blue Harbor Drive
Sheboygan, WI 53081 USA

Focus of event will be Civil 3D and the WisDOT workflows of Civil 3D, GIS, GPS, LiDar, Map, Mapguide, Virtualizations, BIM, Navisworks, Utilities. See Invitation and Class List attachments.

ESRI Regional User Conference
Date: June 2 - 3, 2009
Place: University of Northern British Columbia, Conference Centre
3333 University Way , Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9 Canada

ESRI Canada is pleased to invite you to join other GIS professionals for this exclusive opportunity to learn about the latest advances in GIS technology and hear first hand how others in your community are using a geographic approach in their work.

Webinar: What Is Radar Data?
Date: June 3, 2009
Place: USA

Radar remote sensing is a technique that has matured substantially over the past two decades. The focus of this Webinar is the processing, interpretation, and application of radar imagery. It will begin with basics and physics of radar remote sensing and continue with current and future prospects, followed by a discussion on applications using radar imagery. These applications include topographic, base, geological, and land cover mapping; image orthorectification; burn scar detection; glaciology; pan sharpening optical data; and radargrammetry covering several radar sensors (airborne, such as STAR Technologies and Fugro, and spaceborne, including TerraSAR-X, RADARSAT-2, and ALOS PALSAR).

When: June 3, 8:00 a.m. PDT; 9:00 a.m. MDT; 10:00 a.m. CDT; 11:00 a.m. EDT; 16:00 GMT

ENCOM Discover 3D for Mineral Exploration
Date: June 4 - 5, 2009
Place: Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Discover 3D course makes use of the skills you gained in the MapInfo Professional and encom Discover courses to help you visualize your geological data in 3D.  This course is of most benefit to those geologists working on a drillhole program.

URISA's Second GIS in Public Health Conference
Date: June 5 - 8, 2009
Place: Westin Providence
Providence, RI USA

To provide an open and participatory forum for advancing the effective use of spatial information and geographic information system technologies across the domains of public health, healthcare and community health preparedness.

Webinar: Enabling the Smart Grid with GIS
Date: June 5, 2009
Place: USA

Because of the webinar's overlapping content, those employees with the following areas of expertise will benefit from this information:

GIS Directors
Smart Grid Personnel
Data Managers
Load Management Personnel
Demand Side Resources
Fleet Managers
Directors of Transportation

GeoGathering 2009
Date: June 8 - 9, 2009
Place: Estes Park Conference Center
Estes Park, CO USA

GeoGathering Located in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, GeoGathering 2009 is a conference dedicated to providing pipeline operators in the production and gathering sectors with a venue to share their experiences and best practices with geospatial information while learning about current industry regulations and GIS solutions.

Defense Installation Geospatial Information & Services (IGI&S) Conference & Exposition 2009
Date: June 8 - 12, 2009
Place: Sheraton Dallas Hotel
400 North Olive St., Dallas, TX 75201 USA

The theme of this conference is "Back to Basics: Establishing Consistent, Repeatable IGI&S Processes." The focus will be the "nuts and bolts" of GIS and how it supports installation management, including implementation, common problems and their solutions, and successes.

MapInfo Professional for Mineral Exploration
Date: June 9 - 10, 2009
Place: Vancouver, BC, Canada

The goal of the 2-day MapInfo Professional course is to familiarize new users in the geoscience field with the various functions of MapInfo, and the background geomatics/GIS concepts that all GIS users should have. Students will complete a regional-scale GIS compilation project with real mineral exploration data. Project planning issues and common pitfalls are discussed throughout the course.

2009 FME International User Conference
Date: June 11 - 12, 2009
Place: Westin Resort & Spa
Whistler, BC, Canada

Join fellow FME users for this annual opportunity to build your spatial ETL expertise. Gain new insights on how to solve complex spatial data challenges by attending workshops, breakout sessions and more. Early bird rates end April 3rd – registration closes June 3rd. Visit for more and to register today!

ENCOM Discover for Mineral Exploration Level 1
Date: June 11, 2009
Place: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Our ENCOM Discover for Mineral Exploration Module 1 one-day course gives attendees an extensive introduction to working with Drillhole data in Encom Discover, a mineral exploration add-on program for MapInfo Professional. Attendees will complete a Drillhole data project, starting with the basics of database design, and finishing with scaled surface maps and cross-sections. By the end of this project, students will have gained the technical and project planning skills required for their own drillhole GIS projects. Many features of the software applicable to other types of projects will be introduced in the context of a drillhole project.

ENCOM Discover for Mineral Exploration Level 2
Date: June 12, 2009
Place: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Our ENCOM Discover for Mineral Exploration Module 2 one-day course is designed to give attendees an extensive introduction to surface-data compilation skills in Encom Discover, a mineral exploration add-on program for MapInfo Professional. Attendees will complete a property-scale GIS compilation project. By the end of this project, attendees will have gained the technical and project planning skills required for their own geological GIS projects. Many features of the software applicable to other types of projects will be introduced. This course builds on Module 1 lessons.

2009 Indigenous Mapping Network Conference
Date: June 13 - 16, 2009
Place: Radisson Hotel and Conference Center
2040 Airport Drive, Green Bay, WI 54313 USA

Native American / Indigenous / tribal attendees and supporters of mapping efforts on aboriginal territories, let's learn, share, and grow together - find new ways of using mapping tools to solve sovereignty, environmental, and cultural issues. Previous ideas resulting from this conference include supporting and training indigenous people who may have little experience with modern mapping technologies.

Intergraph 2009
Date: June 15 - 18, 2009
Place: Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
Washington, DC USA

The Gaylord National serves as the anchor tenant for Washington D.C.’s newest premier destination –  National Harbor – a one-of-a-kind waterfront development on the banks of the Potomac River. This destination will provide you with a prime location to network with Intergraph customers from around the world while enjoying D.C. and all its attractions.

GSDI 11 World Conference
Date: June 15 - 19, 2009
Place: Rotterdam, Netherlands

The theme for this conference is Spatial Data Infrastructure Convergence: Building SDI Bridges to Address Global Challenges. Geographic information technologies and spatial data infrastructure play critical roles in allowing governments, local communities, non-government organizations, the commercial sector, the academic community and common people to make progress in addressing many of the worlds most pressing problems.

ENCOM Discover 3D for Mineral Exploration
Date: June 15 - 16, 2009
Place: Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Discover 3D course makes use of the skills you gained in the MapInfo Professional and encom Discover courses to help you visualize your geological data in 3D.  This course is of most benefit to those geologists working on a drillhole program.

First Open Source GIS UK Conference
Date: June 22, 2009
Place: University of Nottingham
Nottingham, United Kingdom

The Centre for Geospatial Science of the University of Nottingham, Open Source Geospatial Foundation (UK Chapter), ICA Working Group on Open Source Geospatial Technologies, SOSoRNET and Open Knowledge Foundation are organizing the First Open Source GIS UK Conference on Monday 22nd June, 2009 at the University of Nottingham.

MAPPS Summer Conference
Date: June 25 - 29, 2009
Place: Ocean Edge Resort & Club on Cape Cod
Brewster, MA USA

This will be the second time the association has held a summer conference on the Cape, the last time being 1992 in Hyannis, MA. The Summer Conference will focus on emerging technologies, education and networking. The MAPPS summer conference is open to private geospatial firm. The conference allows for unique networking opportunities for principals, owners and senior executives of private geospatial firms.

Fourth International Workshop on "Geographical Analysis, Urban Modeling, Spatial Statistics"
Date: June 29 - July 2, 2009
Place: Kyung Hee University-Global Campus
Yongin , Korea (South)

The growth of Spatial Data Infrastructures, Geo-portals and private sector initiatives (e.g. Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, etc.) produced an increase of geographical data availability at any scale and worldwide. This growth has not been fully coupled by an increase of knowledge to support spatial decisions. Spatial analytical techniques and geographical analysis and modelling methods are therefore required in order to analyse data and to facilitate the decision process at all levels.

ENERegion Summer School 2009
Date: June 29 - July 10, 2009
Place: Salzburg, Austria

The ENERegion Summer School 2009 is dedicated to the theme of "Regional Potentials for Renewable Energy Generation" and is hosted by Salzburg University's Centre for Geoinformatics (Z_GIS).