Modeling an Entire Country in 3D
Roopinder Tara posted on November 11, 2015 |

3D modeling is growing in popularity, so it makes sense to scan and render buildings in 3D—but what the city-state of Singapore is doing is on another scale entirely.

For Singapore's 3D modeling project, the entire nation will be scanned in high-resolution 3D and stored in multiple formats. (Image courtesy of Singapore Land Authority.)

For Singapore's 3D modeling project, the entire nation will be scanned in high-resolution 3D and stored in multiple formats. (Image courtesy of Singapore Land Authority.)

The government of Singapore is working on an initiative to create and maintain a 3D model of the entire island nation. The project, started in 2014, is expected to take a total of three years and cost 8 million in Singapore dollars.*

This 3D model project was one of the stars at Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure 2015 conference, taking home the prize in the Innovation in Government category of the Be Inspired Awards.

Modeling a Nation

The process of modeling a nation in 3D is similar in many respects to mapping buildings or even cities.

2D and 3D data is captured using various methods of scanning, including oblique imagery, airborne laser scanning, mobile laser scanning and terrestrial scanning. Information is to be updated after the model’s completion using satellite imagery and building information modeling (BIM).

Data for the map is being collected in stages, leaving areas in a basic format such as that seen in this image before receiving more detailed information. (Image courtesy of Singapore Land Authority.)

Data for the map is being collected in stages, leaving areas in a basic format such as that seen in this image before receiving more detailed information. (Image courtesy of Singapore Land Authority.)

Managing the Data

Singapore’s 3D modeling project was created to yield a series of data and datasets to support interoperability between different agencies and software.

The model hasn’t been completed yet, but it has already generated more than 50 terabytes of data in multiple formats. Understandably, managing and updating this data is one of the main challenges for this project.

These datasets are stored in a single repository and organized using Bentley’s Map software for GIS and mapping.

Why Model a Nation?

We’ve heard of the “smart city” concept, but Singapore, a small nation that refuses to believe it is small, aspires to be the world’s first “smart nation.”

By modeling the entire nation in 3D, the government of Singapore will create a common, collaborative model to unify increasingly popular 3D platforms and prevent inaccuracies.

It will support the needs of the government and other agencies in the fields of operation, planning and risk management.

The model also has the potential to increase industries in Singapore. The government has listed potential future projects using the model, including an idea for a web-based 3D virtualization of the city to draw attention to the tourism industry and tourist attractions.

For more information, please visit the Singapore Land Authority website.

*One Singapore dollar is equal to 0.70 U.S. dollars at the time of this writing.

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