Queensland Government: Department of Natural Resources, Energy & Mines

Posted: 3 Mar 2020


Transforming data into engaging augmented reality experiences

Possibility

The Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines & Energy (DRNME) helps government, industry and communities to make the most of the state's natural resources: water, land, minerals and energy. DNRME was seeking to democratise geospatial data access for mobile users within disparate audience segments.

This included creating engaging digital experiences that would make it easier for users to access information through innovative tools. A proof of concept with Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) platforms would be used for an immersive data showcase for an existing office tower and a large-scale development, both located in Brisbane. 

Key Issues

  • DRNME’s internal systems can deliver precise information to desktop and web applications, but they wanted stakeholders to access their geographic information system (GIS) data on consumer mobile devices like iPhones through an engaging digital experience
  • Getting real-world buildings and surrounding environments to align with digital assets
  • Compass and GPS functions within many devices are not as accurate as users would like them to be, resulting in a requirement for users to manually try and align AR overlays over a camera's rendering of a building
  • Urban density and the distance between a user and a building can cause GPS based renderings to be inaccurate
Augmented reality

Solution

DNRME's project team needed a reliable partner to deliver a solution to prove AR innovation can provide context and clarity to GIS data. DNRME worked closely with Telstra Purple to develop a proof of concept for a virtual and augmented reality called QOverlay, a platform that allows users to point the camera of their mobile devices at specified locations and get visualisations right on their screen. The solution provides 3D overlays of the Northpoint Tower building with relevant information, such as recent sale prices and internal building structure, and offers a virtual preview of the Queen’s Wharf development.

Users can view the main layout of each floor of the Northpoint Tower, as well as tenant information for rooms, available cadastral information (ownership and tax details) for the specific floor plan, including last sale price, known land size, and categorisation. A heat map also provides a visualisation of the property’s last sale prices.

The preview rendering of Queen's Wharf allows users to see the development as if it was already completed, integrated seamlessly with the surrounding buildings, including reflections and obstructions of other buildings, despite it being a virtual model.

As part of the process we:

  • Discovered limitations in GPS and compass accuracies for alignment and developed a novel approach to aligning the digital models with the real world, allowing accurate positioning of the 3D model representations.
  • Developed a 3D plan overlay of the Northpoint Tower, which users can access simply by pointing the camera of their devices at the building. 
  • Created a preview rendering of Queen’s Wharf, which allows users to stand at one of the many vantage points around South Bank and Brisbane CBD and see the area on their screens as though it were already completed.

Outcome

Stakeholders can now provide unique input on the long-term solution roadmap of how AR and 3D modelling can help Queensland’s industries, government, and constituents to use natural resources more sustainably as cities like Brisbane develop.

QOverlay allows users to point their device at a subject building, call up the overlay graphic, and source the GIS data they want, be it property sale prices or other building information. Data can be accessed from the GIS system in real-time, ensuring accuracy and authenticity.

Guided by the intention to democratise data for users—and all without requiring them to have state-of-the-art equipment, just a device that they regularly carried with them—DNRME, in partnership with Telstra Purple, was able to bring to life an idea that can change how industries, governments, and communities can build the cities of the future.