GIS Tech News (#70)

17 Nov, 2008

A Sunny Tomorrow for Virtual Worldsp>

Geospatial data opens new doors to environment simulation.

By Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong photo

Anybody can check the weather in Anchorage, Alaska, or Daytona Beach, Florida, by logging on to, but in Linden Labs' virtual world Second Life (SL), you can actually walk from one state to the other and experience the changing climates along the way. How about looking at the storm clouds gathering above Dallas, Texas, even though you might be sitting in a living room hundreds of miles away? You can now do that in Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D. Bill Gail, director of strategic development for Microsoft Virtual Earth, sees these developments as an indication that we may soon be able to use virtual worlds to simulate and predict environment changes. Before we can put this theory to practice, we'll have to overcome some technological hurdles, and the geospatial community might be best equipped to tackle many of those.

Storm Riders
If you're an environment-conscious resident of SL, you now have two new islands to explore: Meteora and Okeanos, built and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory. After teleporting to Meteora, walk toward what looks like an old airplane hangar. Here, you'll find a 3D national weather map, with storm formations and drizzles reflecting the weather conditions of different regions.

Aimee Weber, who was part of the NOAA Team responsible for creating these islands, reported in the virtual world's news and gossip blog Second Life Insider that "The system works by way of dozens of scripted reporting stations dotted all over a map of the U.S. These stations retrieve METAR (METeorological Aviation Report) data from NOAA every eight minutes, which they then decode and render into models of the appropriate weather phenomenon for the area. ... Temperature is represented by warmer and cooler shades of color." Read more »

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Cadalyst executive editor Kenneth Wong explores the innovative use of technology and its implications. Reach him at


From Athens to V8i: Bentley’s ‘History-Making’ Launch

With much fanfare, the company debuts software portfolio for infrastructure design and lifecycle management.

Referring to the software suite it unveiled on November 6, Bentley Systems reports that the lower-case i in V8i stands for intuitive (design modeling), interactive (dynamic views), intrinsic (georeferencing), incredible (performance), and interoperable (with other Bentley and third-party products). But that little i might as well stand for something bigger than all of us -- for the power lines, utility networks, bridges, and roadways around us that we take for granted. Code-named Athens prior to its public debut, V8i is a comprehensive software portfolio that supports the infrastructure lifecycle.

Yesterday, in a two-hour launch event held at the Philadelphia Ritz-Carlton Hotel and broadcast online, Bentley CEO Greg Bentley said, "I'm not exaggerating when I say that [V8i] is the most significant release in the history of Bentley."

V8i was not created from scratch but assembled from existing Bentley products. With MicroStation and ProjectWise at the center, Bentley put together a bundle that sweeps across various markets: AEC, GIS (geographic information systems), civil engineering, and facilities management. Read more »

Mark Your Calendar: GIS Events

Webinar: LizardTech Express Suite with a Focus on Autodesk Solutions
November 18, 2008
1 p.m. PST
LizardTech's webinar will showcase how MrSID and JPEG 2000 images can be used in AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Civil, and Autodesk MapGuide. Read more »

AutoCAD See the Difference Live Simulcast
November 19, 2008
Various U.S. Cities
Autodesk, DLT Solutions, and CADD Microsystems will present this event, featuring Autodesk technical evangelist Lynn Allen, who will share her favorite tips and tricks for AutoCAD 2009. Read more »

Geomagic Convergence 2009
February 24-26, 2009
Savannah, Georgia
Geomagic's conference will feature presentations on how Geomagic technology can be used to enable digital shape sampling and processing. Read more »

Optech Innovative Lidar Solutions Conference
June 24-26, 2009
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Potential users of laser-scanning technology will meet with experts, learn about the newest techniques, and exchange research ideas at this conference. Read more »

Cadalyst's complete list of upcoming events is always available on our Web site. Our sister Web site,, also offers a full calendar of GIS-related events.