Bluesky MetroVista Mesh Models used to produce a new Digital Twin of London

With increased processing and graphics power, the gamification of profession design tools and big data, city-scale modelling is become accessible to all AEC firms. The Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), part of the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at University College London (UCL), is creating a 3D virtual map which can bring together live real-time data streams including sensor readings, TFL transport updates as well as social media information such as geolocated tweets from Twitter.

Bluesky MetroVista
Bluesky MetroVista city models can be used to locate and navigate through sensors and devices such as street cameras

The system uses photorealistic 3D models from Bluesky’s MetroVista product range, to create the interactive map of London. Bluesky’s MetroVista data is created using a new aerial mapping technology to simultaneously capture vertical and oblique photography together with laser scanned height measurements. These provide real world context for CASA’s mapping platform which is intended to support uses in environmental monitoring, transport, architecture and urban planning.

CASA also use SafeSoftware FME ( to pre-process Bluesky’s MetroVista data and combine it with geographic information including map tiles, building footprints and point cloud data. When combined, this data can then be imported into a game engine for visualisation and real-time interaction by users. CASA’s system is backed by a database which stores the attributes of 3D objects in the model. Finally, real-time data from a range of webservices and APIs are also streamed into the game engine to create an informationally rich, real-time map of the city: a Digital Twin.

Bluesky claims the data is captured using the world’s first large format imagery and LiDAR hybrid airborne sensor. Bluesky’s MetroVista datasets also include geographically accurate, phototextured, mesh models ready for use in 3D GIS, CAD and other modelling software as well as visualisation, gaming and Virtual Reality workflows. MetroVista data is currently available for the following UK cities: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Norwich, Leicester, Derby and Newcastle.

“The value of Bluesky’s MetroVista data is that it provides an immediately recognisable visual reference and context for other, potentially more abstract forms of data,” commented Oliver Dawkins, Research Assistant at the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. “We are so used to seeing real world imagery with platforms like Google Earth that we can struggle to get a sense of place when presented with more traditional architectural block models.”

“Using MetroVista gives a greater sense of real-world location which can be useful for communicating location-based insights” Dawkins continued. “The Bluesky data helps users make a connection between the various streams of data we present such as traffic updates or bike hire schemes, and to imagine and explore their relationship with a specific location. The model helps to show where ‘here’ actually is.”


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Source: AEC