Thank you to the City of Lafayette City Manager’s Friday Summary for sharing this interesting information below. Visit and sign up for their wonderful and useful updates HERE
On Tuesday, Google enabled 3-dimensional mapping in Lafayette, which is good news for the Planning Department because it will allow us to do more sophisticated site planning analyses of development applications. Check it out here. Cool technology – but we got to wondering how they were doing it. Is somebody really sitting at a computer in Mountain View and making 3D models of entire cities? Nope. Turns out that Google has automated the making of these city models using a tool called stereophotogrammetry. As we understand it, Google has a fleet of planes that fly over cities that shoot high-resolution images at 45 degree angles, from directly overhead, and from multiple directions. Using stereophotogrammetry, computers compare the various aerial photos to calculate the geometry of the buildings and trees and landmarks and create a textured 3D mesh of the entire city, including not only the buildings, but also trees and plants. The result is a pretty accurate 3D representation of the city and its surrounding area. The buildings and structures are accurately placed, and the quality, lighting and shadows are consistent over the entire model. And because it’s automatic, it can be rapidly rolled out to cover large areas.