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

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

The memorandum of understanding signed by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the Web3D Consortium allows them to collaborate on ways to extend 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 2D maps with content-rich immersive worlds,' said Alan Hudson, president of Web3D. 'To that end, we believe the incorporation of interactive, Internet-based 3D 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 2D. Though 3D services have been considered for some time, computer processes have not been fast enough and, until recently, the bandwidth has generally not been available to push these types of services across the Web.

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

The proposed standards would allow users to 'flow' the kind of 2D data included in computer-aided design Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into a 3D environment in real time. That conversion can be done now, officials explained, but would take weeks to process.

This procedure was used after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 to get a view of the conditions under the center, but it took about a month to do it.

The plan is apparently for the two groups to coordinate their activities around such things as the X3D specification that the Web3D Consortium is already developing for communicating 3D across the Web, and the specifications the OGC has developed for displaying map data in standard browsers.

Officials said timelines are still being negotiated, but expectations are that it could take six months or more for an initial harmonization of the two groups' specifications. But, as they are all XML-based, even that initial set of joint specifications would be immediately useful, they said.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected