I'm doing a scholary research on 3D GIS but i have some problems in finding where they are used. Does anyone know of any real life examples where 3D GIS has been adopted?

  • 2
    You'd have to define 3d really, as data can be a multitude of dimensions. Logically, you have have data structures made up of many more than 3 dimensions. I recently worked on models incorporating height, concentration and time as well as traditional x and y
    – Hairy
    Mar 19, 2012 at 15:35
  • Sorry you're right, I meant to say the the normal sense of 3d, where x is the length, y is the width and z is the height.
    – GeoMad89
    Mar 19, 2012 at 16:05
  • 1
    Have you read the thread on 3D GIS visualization at gis.stackexchange.com/questions/3617/…?
    – whuber
    Mar 19, 2012 at 20:44
  • I don't had read this qustion, thanks it's very usefull
    – GeoMad89
    Mar 20, 2012 at 6:37

6 Answers 6


There has been a large adoption of 2.5D and 3D GIS products within the military mission planning community. Any increase in operational awareness in a battle space can have exponential benefits. Both of the products have become critical in vertical lift vehicle ingress and egress planning.(Helicopters) Knowing the vertical attributes can be very important when dealing with approach and take off paths.


3D is used a lot in oil exploration and the planning of drilling operations. Shell and BP (and presumably others too) even have 3D visualisation suites using active 3D so they can not only analyse the data but visually inspect the results. On a visit to Shell's 3D installation in Aberdeen, Scotland, I was informed that the cost was easily recovered in just a single project where a blow-out from hitting a salt cap can cost millions.

I personally use 2.5/3D a lot in wind farm visualistion and visibility mapping as well as calculating access limitations (slope being a major factor for getting the wagons up the hill to the site). I also use it to calculate potential radar interference and conflicts between turbines and airport approach/landing surfaces.

3D has been used for decades to calculate cut and fill for major civil engineering projects such as major road projects.

The military has been mentioned and it is worth noting that GRASS (including its 3D capabilities) was originally US military software. They have to calculate their bombing trajectories somehow!


You might want to look at the mining industry or utilities management. You could also look at the Civil Engineering industry. They have been using AutoCAD for years to look at data and plans in 3D for years.

There are specialised packages for 3D data management. One product I know if is Vulcan for mining purposes. There are obvious packages like ArcScene, though I think its purpose is more visual than analytical.

Aspects of a true 3D GIS implementation I find interesting is whether the use of a third dimension enhances an analysts ability to deduce a more accurate answer, and is it this enhanced visual component that influenced the conclusion.


I have been involved recently in the 3d rendition of volcanic ash clouds, in the dispertion of spillages underwater. I have also been involved in some modelling of other areas not open for discussion.

Routing underwater is heavily reliant on 3d modelling too.

Currently trying to write an application to model houses in relation to their surroundings using 3d

Many, many areas you can utlise 3d modelling and wares.


I am late to the party, but the following study published in the ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information might be of interest:

Biljecki, F.; Stoter, J.; Ledoux, H.; Zlatanova, S.; Çöltekin, A. Applications of 3D City Models: State of the Art Review. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2015, 4(4):2842-2889.


(Open Access PDF)

The paper focuses on 3D city models.


Currently 3D city modeling is hot in research with long range and close range photogrammetry. There are publications on them for your serearch to get a problem and work on. Science diredt is one search for papers.Also see ESRI's city engine soft ware also to get an idea.

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