Cities in 3D

Why is there no comprehensive 3D model of London in Google Earth? Back in 2007 there seemed to be some licensing issues and in the interim others have stepped forward with far more detailed models than are currently offered on Google. The Skape model (via Londonist and Digital Urban), relying not on traditional 3D modelling practices but on data gathered via LIDAR, (Light Detection And Ranging), ‘an optical remote sensing technology that measures properties of scattered light to find range and/or other information of a distant target.’

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Lidar for London (hi-res image here) has resulted in ‘200sq kms of London [being mapped] at 15cm accuracy!’ by companies like LiDAR Airborne (gallery). They pump out information saturated data sets that are then translated into rich image-mapped navigable cityscapes that would have been simply unimaginable a few years ago, the kind of data that was costly and well guarded Certainly, London is one of the few major cities relatively untouched by 3D models (with alternatives like Bing still entirely impenetrable) – the view down the Thames from three years ago has barely changed, given how dense and evocative places like Prague or Miami or St Petersburg or Stockholm, etc. etc..

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So is a model of London just too commercially sensitive to be released for free? One wonders how quickly the city would be populated if an Open Street Map type arrangement was established and heavily promoted, along the lines of the Model Your Town competition (Dursley in Gloucestershire is a real labour of love. Google needs to build a trainset plug-in for GE; that would get the data flooding in). How quickly could DIY data accurately fill an entity like Greater London? Related: street view in South Africa / 10 amazing buildings in Sketchup / ZNO seems to be posting again.

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Other things. A great illustrated essay on the Roland TB-303, the ‘Silver Dream Machine’ (via me-fi): ‘ It was still next to impossible to program even with a PhD in computer sciences. Few people found much success with the unit, many discarding it as a total waste of time and energy but the lucky few who managed to work out how to program the notoriously difficult to program bass emulator, found the sound it gave wasn’t that of a realistic bass at all but often a buzzing lifeless drone, sometimes sounding quite random and not musical at all.’

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Feast, ‘images that our medieval and Renaissance ancestors created to depict the food, feasting, kitchens, equipment, taverns and feasthalls that enriched their daily lives’ / occasionally nsfw, Neurastenia / Curious Punishments of Bygone Days by Alice Morse Earle / A Killer Vacation, the Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado, 30 years after The Shining. Stephen King’s chosen location, but Kubrick went for the Timberline in Oregon to get his evocative exteriors (only the Timberline makes it into Google Earth in 3D).

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I love sheds, the work of Philip Cooper (via NDG) / artist Sophie Munns has put together a post on the Mappa Mundi, ‘sheet of the world’ / Destroying the Laboratory for the sake of the experiment, a photographic and poetic journey through the ‘England of the Now’, with Mark Power and Daniel Cockrill.

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Below, London in Google Earth, 2007. Bottom, London in Google Earth, 2010.

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