Under the surface

Editorial Type: Software Focus Date: 01-2020 Views: 865 Tags: CAD, Construction, vGIS PDF Version:
MGISS and vGIS bring Augmented Reality to 3D mapping and BIM

You may have assumed that being able to visualise subterranean plumbing, sewers and drains, electric cabling, gas pipes, fibre optic cables and other underground assets using your iPad or laptop already features in the toolset of civil engineers and utility company employees. But the fancy promotional images that will have led you to this conclusion are typically mock-ups that show you what could be achieved if you have the subsurface model data that they need.

However there are companies that do pull all the technologies together to provide such a solution, and more importantly create the links to the various models that contain the information they need - BIM and CAD models that describe the subsurface components, and GIS information that places them in situ. What has really driven the process forward, though, is the emergence of Augmented Reality (AR), the integration of digital information with data models taken from any form of reality capture tools footage to facilitate and enhance the viewing experience.

AR is no longer just a marketing tool. The development of Augmented Reality as a tool to manage and visualise hidden infrastructure assets has now taken a major step forward following the announcement of a partnership between two technology companies. MGISS, a UK geospatial specialist, has partnered with Canada based vGIS to transform traditional GIS, BIM and CAD data into stunning AR visualisations.

Augmented Reality provides the interactive experience of an environment where objects that reside in the real world, such as underground pipes, are displayed and enhanced with additional intelligence such as attribute information and maintenance records.

A specialist in the use of geospatial technology in the utility, infrastructure and environment sectors, MGISS understands the demands for improved spatial data quality and the requirement to communicate complex, asset dense 3D environments in an easy to consume way. By combining authoritative survey grade positions and associated data with consumer grade hardware, MGISS enables users of vGIS to access Augmented Reality visualisations from any suitable smart device.

vGIS is the leading augmented and mixed reality visualisation technology for GIS data. Using the vGIS system, field personnel can see an augmented view that includes holographic infrastructure objects, improving environmental assessments and increasing situational awareness.

Besides providing civil engineering companies and utilities with the ability to explore underground infrastructure prior to digging up the tarmac, the BIM components and working processes that they will be accessing are primarily designed to encourage collaboration between stakeholders, contractors and workforces. Taking a lead from the construction industry, it is to be hoped that the same spirit of cooperation between the various utilities and civil engineering companies will result in more efficient handling of infrastructure projects. This would eliminate the costly and proverbial practice of the electricity company digging up the road and filling it back in, only to be followed closely by British Gas repeating the process!

MGISS and vGIS are keen to bring their solution to the UK, and there is no doubt that the market's expectations and requirements are neatly falling into place as AR technology becomes more prevalent in other industries. Their credentials in this critical environment are neatly expressed by the two founders.

According to Mike Darracott, Managing Director and founder of MGISS, "Initiatives such as digital twinning and the expectation of 'Business As Usual' operations require the capture and representation of increasingly complex real-world environments. Asset owners and operators face a number of challenges and opportunities including the need to improve safety, reduce risk and ensure what lies beneath our feet meets future infrastructure needs. vGIS truly understand the needs and the challenges facing these sectors. In fact, vGIS goes further than any other AR solution by providing a full range of 3D spatial data capabilities; all within a platform that works with existing enterprise systems and data structures," added Darracott.

"Value is often hidden deep within the structure of data. By helping people "see" data in more intuitive ways, they gain new insights and can subsequently do more with that information. That's been the core operating philosophy of vGIS," commented Alec Pestov, founder and CEO of Canada based vGIS. "To achieve this we are building an ecosystem bringing together top experts to work jointly towards a common goal. MGISS possesses deep expertise in the spatial services and solutions sector and we are looking forward to joining forces to deliver augmented and mixed reality visualisations in the UK."