A few days ago, Michael Shean of the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) announced the availability of videos of 3-D terrain models created to support Planning Board activities in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The videos have been made available via Google+ here: https://plus.google.com/105701421300090504528/posts.
I followed up to inquire how the models were created. M-NCPPC analyst Chris Rotondo gave me the following information:
“We build our 3D models in Google SketchUp, using measurements from the site plan images submitted by the developers. Their architectural elevation images are also the source for our model textures. The building model is then loaded into Google Earth Pro, where we complete the scene by adding simple models of adjacent 3D buildings (based on our LiDAR data) and landscaping. We use the video capture tool within Google Earth Pro to record a video showing all perspectives of the potential development, and the same video that is presented to the Prince George’s County Planning Board is the one available on our Google Plus website. We have also worked with ESRI ArcScene 10 to create more complex terrain models and perform 3D viewshed analysis.”
The use of Google (and/or Trimble) and Esri tools in combination is a theme I see popping up more often in all levels of government. Many shops have long-standing Esri-based workflows but the power of Google for information dissemination and visualization is proving compelling. M-NCPPC does a good job here of making use of both to create good visualizations in support of their core mission. Additionally, I really like the use of a social media channel for dissemination and I’d love to learn more about what drove the decision to use Google+ as opposed to some other channel. (I have no issues with Google+, but am curious what drivers affected the choice.)
This is a great example of the kind work many local governments are doing every day with traditional as well as not-so-traditional geospatial tools. Kudos to the Planning Department GIS staff at M-NCPPC.