Piero Toffanin


Abstract: The increased availability and lower costs of acquisition for 3D geospatial data has been pushing a wide range of industries toward the adoption of 3D GIS. 3D visualization offers some compelling benefits for the pipeline industry and many other industries with the engineering, design, planning and management of existing infrastructural systems. In 2D maps important vertical information is often missing, or is misinterpreted by field workers and office professionals alike. 3D maps overcome these limitations and allow for a more intuitive experience, as well as providing additional information that can be used for more detailed analysis. Cesium is an open-source engine for 3D globes and maps. 3D Tiles is an open specification for streaming massive heterogeneous 3D geospatial datasets, currently supported by Cesium. We found no satisfactory implementation to convert and display pipeline data at scale using Cesium and 3D tiles.

Our approach involved the development of a software package that:

  1. Reads pipeline data from a variety of common GIS formats,
  2. Re-projects the data into a suitable coordinate reference system,
  3. Progressively subdivides 3D geospatial data into tiles,
  4. Procedurally generates pipeline features such as pipe segments and appurtenances for different levels of detail,
  5. Associates pipeline attributes and metadata with each feature,
  6. Builds cached tilesets for efficient streaming

The resulting 3D pipeline visualization provides information that could not be captured in 2D. Bends and crossings are clearly visible. Individual pipeline features can be toggled or isolated to pull metadata about them in an intuitive manner. Existing utilities, structures and objects can be displayed with the accuracy at which they are surveyed. We explore how this 3D data could be visualized in the field using augmented reality technology by overlaying virtual underground pipes to the video feed of a mobile device.


Bio: Piero has 19 years of experience in software development. He's an active contributor to many GIS projects, including OpenDroneMap, Cesium and 3D Tiles.


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c/o Technical Design Services
231 E. Superior St.
Suite 201,
Duluth, MN 55802

Work:  218-216-1112

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