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GeoVisionary software aids environmental research

19 April 2012

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) has begun using Virtalis’ GeoVisionary software to visualise its data in 3D, following a demonstration of the application at sister organisation, the British Geological Survey (BGS). Both CEH and BGS are part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) which delivers independent research, survey and training in the environmental sciences to advance knowledge of the Earth as a complex, interacting system.

CEH is a custodian of environmental data, including 20 million records of 12,000 species occurring across Britain and Ireland, as well as records of over 50,000 station years of daily and monthly river flow data, derived from over 1,300 gauging stations throughout the UK.

GeoVisionary was developed by Virtalis, in collaboration with BGS, as 3D software for the high-resolution visualisation of elevation and photography data overlaid with a wide range of geospatial data. One of the major advantages GeoVisionary offers over other visualisation software (3 & 4D GIS) is its ability to integrate very large volumes of data from multiple sources and interact with it in real time.

“We’re seeking to exploit the capabilities of GeoVisionary on a variety projects and have provided introductory training to some 40 staff”, says Gwyn Rees, director of the Environmental Information Data Centre at CEH. “Already, we’re finding that we are getting better insights from our data. GeoVisionary also neatly encapsulates our work to visitors, really showcasing our science.

"So far, we’ve used the system to see how land cover relates to terrain and cross referencing with Ordnance Survey and digital photography layers. In another project, we are analysing the dispersal of plant species in one of our Environmental Change Network networks in the Cairngorms and, GeoVisionary clearly shows how different species congregate in different parts of the terrain. GeoVisionary is enabling us to derive new insights from our pre-existing data.”

CEH has installed a Virtual Reality (VR) suite, known as a Virtalis ActiveWall, in order to view GeoVisionary in 3D at its headquarters in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. ActiveWall is an installed, immersive, interactive 3D visualisation system and is claimed to be the best selling VR system in the world.

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