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Thoughts

Underground Digital Twins

We all have used 3D maps. From Google Earth, to Google and Apple Maps, to Esri, Mapbox and others, we are very used to seeing 3D buildings rendered on our devices. But think of the iceberg analogy…

Below is a bigger deal than above…

Icebergs are so much bigger than they appear. This is the case with the built environment. Look out your window and you see a complex city. But what you don’t see is what is below. We know that these underground assets are hit on average every 60 seconds in the United States which costs over $1B dollars in losses. What we can’t see is costing cities and developers money that could be better spent on making these cities sustainable.

But getting a hold on this issue is not easy. The ownership of these assets is many times private and those companies do not wish to share anything about what is underground for business or security reasons. Plus even if sharing was something that interested people, there isn’t a good unified underground model to place them in (we have many of these available for above ground assets). But there seems to be some progress in this area. Writes Geoff Zeiss:

At the December Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Energy Summit at EPRI in Charlotte, Josh Lieberman of the OGC presented an overview of the progress of OGC’s underground information initiative, with the appropriate acronym MUDDI, which is intended to provide an open standards-based way to share information about the below ground.

The part that gets my attention is that MUDDI model is intended to build on and be compatible with many existing reference models. This is a big deal because many of the stakeholders in underground assets have already invested time and money into supporting these. As Geoff writes:

MUDDI is not an attempt to replace existing standards, but to build on and augment existing standards to create a unified model supporting multiple perspectives.

I’m totally on board with this. Creating a new model that handles all these edge-cases only will result in a model nobody wants. As we work toward integrating underground models into Digital Twin platforms, MUDDI will be a huge deal. It’s not ready by any means yet but because it support existing standards everyone can get involved immediately and start working at creating underground digital twins.

Categories
Thoughts

3D Underground

There are plenty of 3D globes for desktop and for web that support above ground objects (mostly buildings) on the globe but there are few that support features underground (such as wells). The only one that really has good support is Esri’s CityEngine. You can render scenes such as this in the browser.

Now the problem is that this all requires CityEngine which is neither inexpensive nor easy to use. I’ve got a great database of wells with GeoJSON attributes that I’d love to map on a 3D browser view but most of the efforts so far have been put into 2.5D solutions. Most of my current project work is 3D but underground which means that I can’t view on Google Earth or other web solutions.

I get all excite to map wells and then disaster strikes.