Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Singapore in Glorious 3D

The Straits Times has created a very impressive 3d map of Singapore to illustrate an investigation into who owns the buildings on Singapore's most famous shopping street. Who Owns Orchard Road? explores the diverse ownership of individual buildings on the city's main retail street.

We can't be sure how this impressive 3d map was built because essentially we never get to interact directly with the map. The initial story map progression through the buildings is all managed by video. The developers have videoed a linear pan of the map from one building to the next. The progression through the story map is therefore controlled by simply playing and pausing this video.

Once the videoed story map has completed the video is replaced with what is essentially a picture map (or two picture maps - as the zoom button switches the image of the 3d map to a zoomed in picture of the same map). Buildings on the image map have been made interactive so you can click on the colored buildings to learn more about who owns the property.

The use of a video and picture map is an interesting hack which enables the Straits Times to provide a very detailed 3d view of Singapore. This level of detail presented in an interactive map would result in delays for the user as the map would presumably have to be rendered in the user's browser. Currently you can provide a similar looking interactive 3d map but without the level of detail in the building models. If you want to create your own interactive 3d maps then you could start with this tutorial on making Interactive 3D Maps With OSMBuildings.

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