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An international technology firm has introduced an interactive digital three-dimensional model of downtown Vancouver that it says could change the way commercial realtors, landlords, developers and other businesses serve their customers and clients.


GeoSim is a 14-year-old company with offices in Warsaw, Tel Aviv and Vancouver. Matthew McCauley, GeoSim’s chairman, introduced the Virtual Vancouver model recently at the Emerging Technologies show at SIGGRAPH 2014, a computer graphics, technology and digital design show held annually around the world.



Produced using air and ground laser scanning and photography, the technology provides digital models that can be used on a screen to view cities and specific buildings in three-dimensional detail within centimetres of precision.


McCauley said the resulting 3-D model enables free virtual movement anywhere within the city, including the inside of buildings. “It’s highly precise, it’s interactive and it’s what we called parametric, which means the model can be searched for attributes, such as windows, fire hydrants,” he said in an interview.


“For example, how many north-facing windows are there on the Harbour Centre building? Or, show me all the fire hydrants on Georgia Street,” he said. “It’s not just an image of the city, it’s an interactive model.”


He said the model, which has captured about a 12-square-km section of the city, represents GeoSim’s flagship project. “Vancouver is by far our largest and most detailed model,” he said, adding they plan to eventually model every major city in the world.


The model takes users beyond what they can have access to with similar technologies, such as Google Earth, he said. “The difference with our model essentially is that you can (virtually) walk right to a building, and around, and behind and so on, so you continue to have freedom of movement in every direction.”

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