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I don't know much about GIS but I'm investigating a project that requires a 3D model of a hilly large town (town centre, suburbs, golfcourse, etc.). I'm not certain which file-type of these Geospatial Formats will give me the best data for the model.

I need the data to be able to distinguish between homes and their lawns (roof height), spaces between town buildings (most are less then 10 stories; with roof height), hills, valleys, and so on. Perhaps a resolution of 0.5 cubed-meter or less; I am guessing.

I need to create a 3d model of the surface of the area where the surface includes the buildings, trees and the like. I'll then be doing a few flow simulations on this 3D model. The is seeing how water (flood, industrial run-off), industrial smoke stack soot (pollution), industrial noise, and the like, travels through the area.

I plan on using the Mathematica technical computing software (+ some cold computing resources) for this and it only has the few Geospatial Formats mentioned in the link. It can make 3d models from point clouds and from elevation maps. I'm most concerned about the resolution I'll be able to get as I need the model to be able to make out buildings from other surrounding buildings in both in the recreational, residential, commercial, and industrial areas. Large tree line heights would also be very good to have in the data.

The data will be from an aerial survey but I need to specify the file-type.

  • For full control I'd go for the raw (classified) .LAS data. Then you can filter out vegetation, water, buildings, ground etc and create several elevation models to fit your needs. However, since that's not listed on the link, Geotiff is probably what I'd use. Works with both QGIS and ArcMap, for example. Make sure you get all features that you need in it though. – Martin Apr 10 '15 at 11:28
  • Edmund, if this is for an aerial survey which you are going to pay for, then get the LAS (large set of XYZ points, hopefully classified into categories, like ground, non-ground etc) and any aerial photography that will be done at the same time (tiff format). – Neil Ayres Apr 10 '15 at 12:12
  • @NeilAyres The package I will use for the model is limited to the file-types in the link I provided. I have to use one of those. – Edmund Apr 10 '15 at 16:24
  • @Martin May you elaborate on "... all the features you need"? Perhaps in an answer that explains what these features. – Edmund Apr 10 '15 at 16:25
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    Since you plan on using Mathematica, have you tried asking on that stackexchange site? You might have better response there since it isn't really GIS software and they may better know what formats would work best for your purposes. If it can make models out of point clouds, then you could focus on figuring out what is needed to convert an LAS point cloud into a format Mathematica can read. – Chris W Apr 13 '15 at 23:20

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