Pact aims to spark real-time 2-D/3-D Web visualization

Technology outpaces pandemic preparations, experts say

A recent agreement between two industry groups could lead to innovations in the conversion of 2-D data into 3-D display that would have major implications for homeland security, emergency response, defense and intelligence users.

The memorandum of understanding signed by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the Web3D Consortium allows them to collaborate on extending the work that’s already been done to inject interoperable, Web-based geospatial services into the 3D graphics environment that the Web3D Consortium is trying to expand into the Web.

“The OGC and the Web3D Consortium envision the synthesis of 2-D maps with content-rich immersive worlds,” said Alan Hudson, president of Web3D. “To that end, we believe the incorporation of interactive, Internet-based 3-D graphics is the next logical step that will benefit users with a richer, more meaningful geospatial experience.”

The standard for the geospatial Web services now is 2-D. Although 3-D services have been considered for some time, computer processes have not been fast enough and, until recently, the bandwidth generally has not been available to push these types of services across the Web.

However, officials of both industry groups feel the time is right to begin developing the standards that would support Web-based 3-D visualization.

The proposed standards would allow users to flow 2-D data from applications such as computer-aided design geographic information systems into a 3-D environment in real time. That conversion is possible now, officials said, but would take weeks to process.

That procedure was used after the 2001 terrorist attacks to get a view of the conditions under the World Trade Center, but it took about a month to produce results.

The two groups plan to coordinate on activities such as working on the X3D specification that the Web3D Consortium has already started developing for 3-D Web-based communications. They will also collaborate on the specifications the OGC has developed for displaying map data in standard Web browsers.

Officials said they are still negotiating timelines, but expectations are that it could take at least six months for an initial harmonization of the two groups’ specifications. Because they are all based on Extensible Markup Language, even that initial set of joint specifications would be immediately useful, they said.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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