Written by Ken De'Ora
About 5 years ago, after some positive experiences with GIS in the field as an archaeologist, I began exploring the potential for a new career revolving around interests in understanding the inner-working capabilities of mobile technologies, and the way they assist information management. But before jumping right into the GIS certificate at PCC, an influential internship in historic preservation provided me with insights into how indoor mapping and modeling could stand to be more efficient. Painstakingly measuring architectural details can be slow going without the right tools, and if you miss a deadline it can affect your project negatively. Along with this problem, not being able to share my data the way I wanted to, took considerable attention away from peers I wanted to have review it. To be specific, at the time I finished my work, the most efficient way to share it was either to pay for a larger amount of space on a service like DropBox to host my report, or I could just pay Kinko’s to print it out and I could mail it to them. Because of this scenario, within the context of our class on web map design, I figured talking about new developments in web sharing and storage of LiDAR data could be appropriate.
For some time now, companies like Autodesk and FARO have had their own scanning software for users (such as ReCap 360 and SCENE) to be used in conjunction with LiDAR instruments. Customers like NASA, Volvo, Johnson and Johnson, and others, use them for creating “as-built” data (data that’s finished being messed with and ready to be built), for mapping, and for asset management or project execution, which tend to require quite a bit of space on a drive. Until recently, that meant putting it on the web was more time consuming and costly, because those customers would have to own and maintain their own internet servers to host their individual projects.
But today, progress in cloud-based hosting has allowed FARO, Autodesk, and even smaller companies, to host the servers for their subscribers securely and increase the customer accessibility of very large datasets, like point-cloud information. Because of cloud-based data storage, computers can access data entirely from within a web browser. And not only do most cloud-based environments allow for storage but many of them allow additional functionality to be able to do things like access libraries and caches to add to your project and customize the image. The only downside is that these are obviously for profit companies, so their instrumentation is expensive as is there software. There is open source and open access software out there, but what I found was only for geophysical and geological data, exhibiting interactive topography, but primarily for plate tectonics. Also, since they’ve been compiled by academics, not marketing geniuses, they don’t seem intuitive. However, the hosting and software architecture for them is interesting to explore.
Ok, that’s all I wanted to say! Sorry this is so long. I sort of didn’t know where to stop. Or what would be interesting, or dry. Hopefully, these following links will address anything I missed or satiate any curiosity.
Müller, R. Dietmar, et al. "The Gplates Portal: Cloud-Based Interactive 3D Visualization Of Global Geophysical And Geological Data In A Web Browser." Plos ONE 11.3 (2016): 1-17. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.