3D QLD promises to bring $2.2bn in value

A framework for modernised Queensland property boundaries gains momentum.

Having property boundary information readily available in three dimensions is something of a holy grail for land professionals, and the Australian state of Queensland just became one step closer to achieving it.

A joint initiative between Queensland government and industry bodies has entered the next phase towards bringing all of the state’s property boundaries into 3D. Known as 3dQld, the initiative aims to create a comprehensive, reliable and efficient cadastral system that supports the changing needs of the community of generations to come.

In early 2016, a taskforce comprising Queensland government agencies and spatial industry bodies contracted ACIL Allen Consulting, VANZI and a team of domain experts to develop the Road Map to deliver 3dQld.

As part of the road map, the recently released 3dQld Road Map Preliminary Findings has exposed the huge potential that 3dQld—or 3D cadastres in general—will have for economies. The report marks the first of three phases towards implementing the 3dQld Vision, and found that once delivered it could add $2.2bn in value to the Queensland economy over twenty years.

The report also detailed how access to a highly accurate 3D digital cadastre will create opportunities for the community and relevant industries to develop integrated approaches to 3D design, construction and management of the built environment.

brisbane 3d map

Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, in 3D.

Digital Built Environment (DBE)

The aim of the first stage of the project was to identify and quantify the benefits to be derived from updating the cadastre to a 3D digital model that is capable of being integrated into a Digital Built Environment (DBE). A DBE is an authorised, secure, federated 3D computer model of the whole natural and built environment- on all scales required for decision-making. PSMA Australia are leading the way internationally towards providing data for such initiatives, evidenced by the multi-award winning Geoscape dataset.

Support for 3D Qld or a DBE is driven by many factors. Changes in technology are driving increasing access to precise positioning and growing demand for sophisticated visualisation through technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). This has also grown the desire to visualise 3D models of land and buildings alongside the boundaries of properties.

Also driving this are obvious benefits to productivity, industry collaboration and projects involving building information modelling (BIM). Delivering productivity improvements in key sectors construction and infrastructure, is also potentially worth billions so investing in supporting technologies is clearly in the economy’s best interest.

Significant economic value

3D Qld is expected to improve the way in which people, businesses and government leverage the value of land assets to underpin economic activity. About $280 billion of mortgages are secured against land titles in Queensland and 3D Qld offers an opportunity to enhance the value derived from this system.

The preliminary findings report quoted expected benefits in the range AU$0.5 billion to AU$2.2 billion over 20 years. The figure is indicative economic value resulting from 3D Qld has been calculated across three sectors, surveying; engineering and construction; and facilities management of buildings.

3dQld is expected to benefit construction, agriculture, mining and tourism. Source: ACIL ALLEN Consulting

 A vision for the future

The preliminary report was researched by VANZI with technical support from the domain specialists, while the economic analysis was carried out by ACIL Allen.

Michael Haines, the CEO of Vanzi, has a strong vision for how 3dQld will empower communities in the future.

“In the not too distant future, proposed changes to any equipment, building or city will be first made and approved in its ‘certified’ model as the guide for work to be done,” Haines explained. “Then, those making the modifications in the real world will be required to update the model after the work has been completed.”

“Fortunately, photogrammetry and LiDAR tools are emerging to make real-time update of the model a relatively simple process.”

“Using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), it will then be possible to access all the information you need about a city, or building, or service, or piece of equipment.”

Augmented reality view of right and restriction boundaries in 3D (LINZ, 2014). Source: GeoNet. Augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality will be the focus in the upcoming issue of Position magazine. 

At the same time, Haines understands the significant challenges rolling out such a wide-spanning initiative presents.

“It means treating the DBE as a new piece of infrastructure in its own right,” he said

“Stakeholders have identified security, privacy and certification as key issues to be addressed in the development of the DBE.”

“A major challenge recognised by stakeholders will be keeping the DBE and the real world in sync.”

The next phase

Based on these preliminary findings, the overall road map is now one step closer towards guiding government and the spatial and surveying sectors in understanding and implementing the reforms required.

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines is already undertaking a Cadastral and Geodetic Services Systems Review project that will implement aspects of the 3D Qld vision. It aims to develop a cadastral system and a collaborative online environment that will enable relevant industries to use and contribute spatial information.

The 3dQld Taskforce comprises the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI) QLD division, Spatial Industries Business Association/Geospatial Information and Technology Association (SIBA|GITA), Australian Institute of Mine Surveyors (AIMS), the Surveyors Board of QLD (SBQ), Queensland Spatial and Surveying Association (QSSA) and the Qld Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM).

Phase 2 will focus on identifying the various activities that need to be undertaken to achieve the 3dQld vision. These activities will then be prioritised and properly sequenced, and responsibilities will need to be agreed.

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  • Josef

    We already operate in a cadastre which includes volumetric and height restricted elements. I would appreciate someone explaining how this is not a 3D coordinated cadastre, which will incur great expense to the public and/or the private sector to implement and maintain? And how it deals with the concept of monument over measurement, a core tenant of the Qld cadastre for over a 150 years?

    • Josef, you are right that the cadastre is already in 3D. As I understand, there is no intention to step away from monuments on the ground.

      As everyone knows, it is getting easier and easier to locate an object (monument) on the ground using GNSS. What many outside the surveying profession don’t understand is that it requires a great deal of knowledge about measurement, property law and equipment to reliably place the monument in the right place to start, and to confirm that it is still where it should be!

      The intention is to make it easier for Surveyors to upload their 3D data
      electronically in a form that can be later downloaded directly into computer modelling software. The aim is to reduce
      time and cost for everyone in the process.

      3D Qld offers an additional role for surveyors.

      In addition to their role as the authority for boundaries on the ground, there is an emerging opportunity to verify the placement of boundaries in 3D computer models of cities and multi-story buildings.

      It means, for example, providing architects with 3D scanned/photogrammetric models of a site/existing building with all boundaries, easements, right of way etc marked in the model, with dimensions, geo-references and elevation against the global position grid certified to a specified accuracy.

      Ultimately, these separate models can be linked into a complete Digital Built Environment which everyone can use the models to make legally binding decisions.

      Most importantly, the certified boundaries in each model will provide a simple means for determining who has rights of access in which bits of each model.

      The DBE is potentially a new piece of infrastructure. Just as boundaries determine who can use, access and trade in which parts of the real-world, they will increasingly become critical to determine who can access, use and trade in the same parts of the DBE- a great opportunity for surveyors!


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