| Article Archive
Features List 13
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 19 No 03 - MARCH/APRIL 2006
David Chadwick gets a clear vision of the future as Bentley's MicroStation connects to Google Earth
Shades of Dick Tracy! For all of you who werenít even a twinkle in your
father's eye when Dick Tracy was around, he was the Private eye who always
carried the latest technology on his wrist - a two-way radio that was light
years (this was in valve radio days) ahead of its time. I get the same sense of
looking into the future when I see how Google Earth is developing. For be under
no illusion, this is the first taste of the way we will be looking at the earth
and all its resources in years to come.
The potential is enormous, and Google is quite literally only scratching the surface of what will be achieved. Whatís more, the benefits are already being realised by companies that are able to latch on to Google Earth's capabilities, adding their tools to those provided by Google to dig into any corner of the globe and extract layers of information in vivid, real imagery.
The current limitations of Google Earth, namely the lack of resolution currently provided for many parts of the globe, will be rectified in due course. Letís face it, Google can probably now afford to put their own satellites in orbit to snap those areas that are currently a bit out of focus! Getting in to bed with CAD and GIS companies will also be a catalyst for marrying up the current visual images with 3D surveyed data. It's already a feature of other CAD/GIS solutions, and will have been considered by both parties prior to getting together - Bentley and @LastSoftware are not just concerned with potting their structures on the flat fields of The Netherlands, after all.
For this is where CAD and GIS come together, and Bentley and @LastSoftware are the first companies to see the benefits of this symbiosis and take advantage of it.
@LastSoftware, the developers of Sketchup, have been working with Google for a while, the software being used to develop the 3D blocks that represent buildings in Google Earth when you go into Buildings mode. It was a natural course of events for Google to acquire the company, as it secures continuance of a massive project (only a few cities are covered at the moment) and gives Google access to a technology that will undoubtedly develop into a major tool for the rapid creation and visualization of structures.
Bentley, on the other hand, are delighted to be able to use Google Earth to locate their projects on real terrain. The company announced recently that Microstation users will henceforth be able to place their buildings directly on to a bit of real estate within Google Earth and navigate around them in both 2D and 3D at will. It also gives them access to Google Earthís many overlays, so that, for instance, they can attach Google Earth's own demographic data - street names, the location of schools, banks, hospitals, golf courses - in the vicinity - or they can attach their own notes.
A particularly fascinating part of Google Earth is the way it allows any user to place markers anywhere they like and create hyperlinks to their images, text, views or whatever.
Obviously, within a more commercial environment such as the one proposed by Bentley, such additions would have to be more tightly controlled - some users of Google Earth have gone overboard, and if you go looking for Area 51 with the Military tick box checked, your target location will show up totally obscured by enthusiastic markers!
How will it work? MicroStation users will be able to publish their DGN and DWG models of infrastructure assets being designed, approved, or maintained directly within the Google Earth environment. In Google Earth, models will be able to be viewed and navigated with all associated content including buildings, transportation systems, boundaries, bodies of water, and census information - to cite just a few examples.
MicroStation files placed in the Google Earth environment can contain links to more detailed data that users can review locally. This information can be provided in a variety of formats, including Excel spreadsheets, Word and PDF documents, additional DGN and DWG files, and URLs - enabling diverse project information to be shared through the Google Earth interface.
Understandably, the implications for the future development of linked CAD and GIS environments are enormous, and Bentley's key staff are very enthusiastic about the project. Commenting on the Google Earth connection and the value it brings, Ray Bentley, lead developer, said, "The Google Earth connection is fantastic for our users, who work on major assets placed on or in the earth. The feedback regarding the connection has been great - beta users around the world are inspired by their new ability to view their work inside the Google Earth environment."
Joe Croser, global marketing director, Bentley platform products, added "The most exciting thing about the Google Earth connection is that it facilitates richer visualization for everyone involved in a project - from designers on through to the public. I like to think of it as 'grounding design' by placing the project in situ."
The richness of the MicroStation model content is available to users of the Google Earth service. For example:
- All included levels available to the MicroStation user are persisted in the KML file, so the Google Earth user can easily switch parts of the model on and off as desired
- Saved views in MicroStation are transferred to the KML file, so the Google Earth user can easily move through pre-configured perspectives in the model
- Embedded links within a MicroStation file will be automatically published as Google Earth Placemarks. This allows the Google Earth viewer to quickly navigate to supporting project data
- The geometries of MicroStation GeoGraphics users who have defined the coordinate system for their designs will be automatically exported to the correct locations in Google Earth
- MicroStation raster imagery can be published to Google Earth to replace or augment the Google Earth imagery
Bentley SELECT subscribers can download the new connection software now for use with MicroStation V8 2004 Edition. The capability is delivered within MicroStation V8 XM Edition.
Bentley is the first professional CAD company to provide a single-point solution that encompasses 2D and 3D models with raster, GIS and civil data from both DGN and DWG files. The company is embarking on a path with a clear strategy for linking all kinds of data being used on major infrastructure projects with Google Earth, a strategy that will lead to profound changes in the way we search for and source data on our planet, our local environment, and the way in which humans interact with it, and build upon it.
It is quite interesting that CAD, the software that we take for granted, is in a unique and privileged position, being the sole source of information about the man made features of the planet, and the links between the two worlds - Google Earth's amazing imagery and Bentley's professional software and civil engineering tools, only serve to enhance each other's offerings.
The sample images shown here, of San Diego are a case in point where the basic, 3D block models already in Google Earth are enriched by the addition of the
MicroStation 2D GIS and utilities data.
To view an online demonstration of the MicroStation and Google Earth connection, view an eSeminar on how to publish DGN and DWG models to the Google Earth environment, or to learn more, go to:
Click here for a Print Friendly Version
©2006 BTC. All rights reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced without written permission of the owners.