Stay tuned for the next generation of online maps. They’re likely to dazzle everyone.
A team of computer scientists at USC’s Integrated Media Systems Center
(IMSC), led by Cyrus Shahabi, is providing the magic to make those maps
interactive, three-dimensional, extremely accurate, and easy to
access. The technology is being developed in a project called
GeoDec: Geospatial Decision Making.
Cyrus Shahabi works with GeoDec technology to make geospatial maps accurate and easy to access.
“GeoDec is designed to enable an information-rich and realistic
three-dimensional visualization and/or simulation of geographical
locations, such as cities or states, rapidly and accurately,” said
Shahabi, who specializes in databases and information management. “The
technology has a similar look and feel to the new, high-powered
interactive mapping tools, such as Google Earth and MSN Virtual Earth.”
For a start, with the GeoDec technology, Shahabi and his team have
shown that they can build accurate 3D building models in a relatively
short time – a fraction of the time required by other existing
technologies and procedures.
“We can also map images and live video textures to the models to make them even more realistic,” Shahabi explained.
In addition to those advances, GeoDec technology can automatically and
accurately integrate a broad range of spatial and temporal data,
including road networks and GPS data, into the model to prepare it for
sophisticated, spatio-temporal data analysis. That type of analysis is
necessary for decision-making tasks.
The Newly Emerging Geospatial Internet
An abundance of geospatial information — such as digital maps,
high quality satellite images, road network data, traffic data, 3D
building models, global positioning system data and more — is rapidly
transforming the web into a geospatial Internet. Shahabi said the
time is ripe to build more advanced data management and visualization
systems, such as GeoDec, to integrate all of this information and make
it easily accessible to users.
“The idea is not just to allow navigation through a 3D model, but to
be able to submit queries and get information about the area seamlessly
and effortlessly,” he said. “Our main challenge is to figure out
how we can quickly and cheaply integrate, visualize, and simulate all
aspects of a geographic region.”
The ability to create high-fidelity, information-rich models of cities,
states or countries is critical for a wide variety of decision-makers,
including city managers, city planners, emergency response planners,
and first responders. Applications include commercial
development, tourism and hospitality industries, retail sales and
advertising, job training in simulators and in the field, and
transportation and military operations planning.
Shahabi’s GeoDec team is comprised of five faculty members specializing
in four areas: databases, artificial intelligence (Craig Knoblock),
computer vision (Ram Nevatia), and graphics (Ulrich Neumann and Suya
For information about GeoDec, go to http://infolab.usc.edu/projects/geodec/index.jsp