Labs Putting GIS in the Game

Visualising GIS data in a highly interactive game engine can provide a better experience for end users

Unity Heli

As computing power increases, the ability to interact with GIS data within 3D environments can be realised in a web browser, alongside the usual standalone desktop and mobile applications. The normal tools for creating these 3D visualisations can be unwieldy for some users to navigate. To close this gap, Geoplex is using the Unity3D game engine to provide highly interactive visualisations of GIS data, embedded in webpages.

Mapbox provides a SDK to stream in GIS data and tile sets in to the Unity3D game engine. As provided, the SDK only serves data from Mapbox’s services. To augment this, we are extending the SDK to make use of other services. The first extension allows loading of map tiles from services that use the “Slippy Map” convention. Future extensions will allow streaming of point, line, and polygonal data into the game environment from GIS servers, such as ArcGIS Server and GeoServer.

The demo linked below allows the user to fly a helicopter over Melbourne, Paris, London, or New York. Map tiles are streamed in from Open Street Map, while buildings are loaded from Mapbox’s service.

Technology used:

View the demo