Creating SimCity: Real time data and 3D visualisations bring cities to life

Data is all around us, but we’re unable to see and interact with it. This could change with one online tool that combines real-time data with 3D maps to help bring cities to life.

At present the creators of ViziCities have been able to map buses, planes and even London Underground’s tube service.

One of the creators, Robin Hawkes, said the inspiration for the tool was “to see if we could do SimCity for real life.”

ViziCities was created by Hawkes and business partner Peter Smart, who intend for the tool to  help developers create city visualisations with real-time data.

They said that the system, which operates in a browser and comes as a free and open source download, allows people to see cities in new ways and unlock the data that is hidden within them.

Potential applications include viewing public transport flowing around a city, performing traffic simulations, visualising social data, overlaying historic data and much more.

Hawkes, who was speaking at the Re.Work Future Cities Summit in London, said that there could also be virtual reality potential for the visualisation tool.

“People are wanting to use this for things like wanting to put yourself in a situation where you can see the underground network below you,” he said.

This means that with development, a city could be viewed through an Oculus Rift and you could look at your feet and see a train that is passing below.

Other future developments that are planned for the service include creating virtual local weather for the areas, AI vehicles and pedestrians and more.

The aim is to try and create as realistic a 3D city simulation as possible, using data for as many sources as can be obtained.

vizi2

The maps are built up using data that is static and also live. The types of data can include crime, flooding and as many other sources as can be obtained. They are all layered onto the 3D maps, which are built upon OpenStreetMap.

Most of the collection of the data comes from official sources, which are publishing it proactively. However, the amount and quality of data that they publish can hamper what the developers can do.

Hawkes said the quality of the data needed to be improved and, when writing an early blog on the construction of the visualisation tools, said: “The biggest problem by far has been finding accurate, usable data for the locations that we plan to visualise in 3D.”


Images courtesy of ViziCities 


Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC