24 September 2010

Virtual Mediterranean Islands

Three-dimensional versions of Mediterranean islands will be updated virtually automatically with current information from a range of public and private databases. The European research project may launch a revolution in the tourist trade sector. MedIsolae-3D is a project that combined software designed for aircraft landing simulations with orthophotography and satellite images of the islands, as well as public data such as digital terrain models, maps and tourist services to create the portal to the 3D island experience. It has capitalised on the LANDING project that was also funded by the Aviation Sector of the EC/RTD programme. The plan is to link the virtual-visiting tool to web-geoplatforms such as Google Earth, MS Virtual Earth, or ESRI ArcGlobe to make it available to people across the globe. The EU-funded MedIsolae-3D project planned to deliver the service to more than 100 European Mediterranean islands – territories of Greece, Cyprus, France, Italy, Malta and Spain offer platforms for island visualisation.

One of the biggest challenges for the MedIsolae-3D team was to take data from local governments and other providers in a range of formats and data standards, and to use this data to produce a system capable of interoperating its sources to deliver a single virtual visiting service. MedIsolae-3D is an EU-funded project and it builds on the recent development of Inspire, a standardised Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) for Europe. Inspire, backed by an EU Directive creates a standard that allows the integration of spatial information services across the Union. Once standardised, users can access local and global level social services, in an interoperable way. The result of the combined datasets must be seamless for the user as they move from satellite generated images above the islands and onto the island’s roads and streets. Once the MedIsolae-3D framework is in place, it can work in combination with a range of spatial data services to aid tourism, transportation and other money-earners for the island economies, but it can also provide services for health and disaster planning, the environment, and policy-making.

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