3D spatiotemporal analytics and visualization

Helena Mitasova, Anna Petrasova, Vaclav Petras, Brendan Harmon

Center for Geospatial Analytics, North Carolina State University


  • NCSU Open Source Geospatial Research and Education Laboratory

  • Member of Geo4all initiative: global network for foss4g education
  • 91 labs on all continents
  • NCSU NA leading lab: GRASS GIS development, courses, research projects
  • geospatial.ncsu.edu/osgeorel (GitHub: ncsu-osgeorel)


GRASS GIS: geospatial research platform


  • general purpose desktop GIS with updated wxPython GUI
  • backend processing for QGIS, R statistics, WebGIS
  • powerful geospatial 2D/3D raster, imagery and vector processing
  • single integrated software with 30 years of development

GRASS GIS 7: Spatiotemporal 3D GIS

  • Temporal framework for large raster and vector time series

  • 2D and 3D dynamic visualization

  • pyGRASS: python interface to the GRASS C library

  • spgrass7 for coupling with R

  • 350+ core modules and rapidly growing add-ons contributed by the community

DEM time series visualization:

Jockey's Ridge migration 1974 - 2012

Space-Time Cube visualization:

Jockey's Ridge 16m, 20m contour evolution isosurfaces

UAS data acquisition for high resolution modeling

  • NGAT Trimble UX5 system at NCSU Lake Wheeler experimental farms

  • Orthophoto (3cm res.) draped over a Digital Surface Model (DSM, 15cm res.)


Data acquired by NCSU NGAT, processed by Justyna Jeziorska, U. Wroclaw

UAS DSM and water flow modeling

  • DSM of tilled fields at NCSU Lake Wheeler experimental farms

  • Simulated surface water depth captures flow redirection by tillage

Centennial Campus case study

  • 3D data acquired by lidar in 2001 and 2013

  • used as study area for several courses

  • Lidar data processing, surface runoff assessment, trails planning

Centennial Campus

Solar radiation modeling: summer and winter solstice dynamics

Centennial Campus

Fire spread modeling using fuel estimates from lidar data and with a fire break:

Interactive Centennial Campus

Tangible landscape: overview

Collaboration with industry using open source concept

  • develop a open source library of algorithms (BSD or MIT license) which allow incorporation of the library into both open source and proprietary applications in academia and industry

  • example of a project using this approach: PCL (http://pointclouds.org/) which is created by "research institutes, university labs, and companies, all collaborating for the same purpose: advance the state of the art, and simplify the work that young PhD students and commercial companies need to perform in order to build their products."