Friday, April 17, 2009

Virtual buildings

I am a member of the Geospatial Technical Working Group at the Department of Justice. This is a group of about 20 police practitioners from around the county who are advising the National Institute of Justice on what kinds of research and development needs exist for geospatial technology in criminal justice (think crime mapping and analysis.)

One of the topics I'm interested in on this panel is tools and techniques to assist in emergency preparedness and response. As a simple example, we load a digital map application in all our mobile data computers in patrol cars. In the right kind of circumstances, an officer can launch a detailed map of Lincoln, zoom in and out, turn layers on and off--such as streets, parks, schools, parcels, address labels, and even excellent aerial photos that will identify the wading pool in the backyard. Select a tool on the toolbar, click a school, and a site plan and detailed floor plan of each level of the school is launched in a browser window.

As useful as this might be on a bad day, it's still just a flat two-dimensional building. This is going to change. The image below is a mock-up of Adobe's office complex in San Jose, CA. Click the image to launch the application, built with scalable vector graphics (you might need the Adobe .svg viewer plug-in to open this). After the app opens, roll over the building, and different floors are highlighted. Click a floor, and it's floor plan opens, roll over an office, and it's occupant and the phone number are revealed. That's one fancy building directory!

Now click on the photo below, an image of the great hall of the Nebraska State Capitol from a Lincoln firm, roundus.com that I discovered a couple years ago. Use your mouse to tour around, up and down. It's incredible in full-screen, so look for that link at the bottom right of the panorama.

These are relatively straightforward and effective commercial applications of off-the-shelf technologies. Makes one wonder what the future will bring. Think about combining either of these with Google's StreetView. Come to think of it, Google Earth's GigaPan photos combine several of these concepts: map, 3D, panoramic photos, and navigation.

These technologies and concepts have some intriguing possibilities in emergency management. It will be interesting to see what the future brings.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

That full-screen view is impressive, though it might be telling me that this old Radeon X800XT Pro needs an upgrade for faster scrolling.

It's ironic that insane legislation like this can co-exist with such splendor (that's all we need, being tin-cupped at stoplights for the Transient Fortified Wine Charity).

Anonymous said...

Chief Casady
As an employee of the Omaha Police Department, it appears to me that the technology of LPD makes us look 20 years behind. I am very impressed with what I have seen and this is just from your website and blog.

Anonymous said...

this is going to have ACLU all over this...invasion of privacy...if it's a private company, locations of the offices of individuals shouldn't be known unless published in a guide or newsletter....this is an intrusion, IMO.

Tom Casady said...

8:45-

I can't tell if you are serious or if you being facetious. Please tell me you are kidding. If not:

The "directory" is from Adobe's public website. It's one of the examples they use to demonstrate scalable vector graphics.

Anonymous said...

It's just a private company's employee directory, but with an interesting interface. I believe that building has pretty good security and access control. You can also be sure that they run all this stuff past their legal dept.

Anonymous said...

Off topic:

Thank you LPD!!! There was a large party by my house last night. I called you at 1:05 a.m. and you were there and had the party busted up by 1:20 a.m. I'm so pleased that you were able to provide me with the means to get a good's night sleep last night.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

The State Capital link is cool but I can't get the Adobe one to work.

Maybe I need to upgrade my computer but times are hard.

Anonymous said...

Chief, A little off topic...Who was the recipient of the MADD awards this last year? I never heard anything about that in the news.

Anonymous said...

I was kidding...this place needs smilies to use. :)

JIM J said...

Happy Monday Chief. I thought I would promote a video I made this weekend. Have fun. Jim
http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-246695

Steve said...

Chief:

I found the rotunda view a couple years ago, too. Pretty cool stuff. I've been in Washington D.C. and Norfolk, VA, since Thursday and thought I'd take a page from your book and do a little long-distance posting. I'm still getting my crime alerts and keeping up with the Chief's Corner while I'm gone. By the way, I noticed there were several cars broken into on the sixteenth not far from my home. I'm glad I took my truck over and stored it in my mother-in-law's garage while I'm gone.

Anonymous said...

Regarding A9-035179, a parking lot robbery at ~2am: There were no street robberies within a mile of this incident in the previous 90 days, yet a group of 3 robbers hit this particular group of 3 victims at that place and time. Maybe I'm just getting cynical, but is it suspected that anything stolen in this robbery was not reported to the responding officer? Do any of the victims have a history of drug arrests or convictions?

Tom Casady said...

All-

Several people have told me that th Adobe office building application doesn't work. It requires the .svg viewer plug-in and ActiveX control from Adobe. Apparently you aren't necessarily prompted for this, so if you're interested, you can install that manually here.

If you'd rather not install the plug-in, you're not missing that much: the description in the original post of what happens in is about the size of it.

Anonymous said...

UNLPD is currently asking UNL departments not to provide building maps in any publicly accessible formats, even on kiosks inside buildings, let alone online. They claim that this is to deter any possible acts of terrorism. Do you feel that "virtual buildings" present new risks?

Tom Casady said...

2:44

Yes, I do. I think these should be readily available to emergency responders, but only general layouts of public buildings should be available on public websites. It may be remote, but there's no need for the general public to have a detailed layout of room numbers, corridors, elevators, etc., when all they really need to know is "Where is the Centennial Room?"