What is 3D GIS and what are its uses?

Similar to 2D maps, 3D GIS maps depict objects in greater detail by adding another dimension (z). 3D technology in GIS maps is explanatory illustrations that represent the scale of real-world objects. 3D models assist appearance, survey in a large number of different domains. For instance, 3D maps can show the height of a hotel or a mountain and not just its location. The 3D tools have to be used along with 2D GIS and then imagined in a 3D setting.


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There was a time when more than one software was needed in order to view objects on the streets and different places in a city.  Modern Geographic Information System (GIS) has changed the dynamics of Geographic and Earth Science. With the development of digital medium, modern GIS interface lets its operators not only envisage and evaluate, but also manage geographical facts and figures.

Over the years, GIS has made a significant impact in creating mapping as an essential tool to solve problems. Conventionally, GIS information was based on a two-dimensional recording, which apparently limited its usage in most applications. Incorporating 3D technology in GIS customizes the whole experience, making it more personal and enabling detailed visualization. Let us look at some of the uses of 3D GIS.

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City Planning

Today, a majority of cities face shortage of basic amenities like water, electricity and space to live. The problem can be attributed to improper allocation of resources. Incorporating 3D technology in GIS can help government agencies, architects and engineers envision, evaluate and analyze asto how certain changes in a city will look like, and how these changes can meet the needs of the future generations. A typical 3D model would consist of building information, satellite imagery and traffic data that can be used by urban planners to find alternative solutions effectively and address emergency situations efficiently.

Building Information Modeling

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is an important technology that depicts real-world settings of an environment. The combination of BIM and GIS provides the necessary know-how to build a robust model. The combination of 3D GIS and BIM can help produce error-free building management plans that would eventually allow for a more detailed analysis of data.

Coastal Modeling and Analysis

Coastal areas are important as they connect a country with the rest of the world for trade. Coastal areas globally face major threats and challenges for development. It is important for planners to recognize what all factors affect the construction and preservation of ports, fisheries and mining operations. The efficient and effective planning of resources on 3D GIS can provide some level of understanding in the economic, environmental movements along the coast.

Disaster Response

3D GIS can help people and societies better handle natural disasters. In case of a calamity, the detailed mapping may give a broad idea to disaster response teams by making them aware of the environment they would be dealing in. This would also include providing information like:

  • Proper coordinates of the point of action and the best route to reach
  • Detail of the area including the type of terrain
  • An alternative route for proper evacuation