At Ordnance Survey, GB, we have taken an incremental approach to creating our 3D geospatial database. Research at Ordnance Survey has focused not only on methods for deriving 3D data, but also on the needs of the user in terms of the actual tasks they perform. This provides insights into the type and quality of the data required and how its quality is conveyed. In 2007, using task analysis and user-centred design, we derived a set of geometric characteristics of building exteriors that are relevant to one or more use contexts. This work has been valuable for guiding which building data to collect and how to augment our products. In 2014, we began to supply building height attributes as an alpha-release enhancement to our 2D topography data, OS MasterMap®
Topography Layer. This is the first in a series of enhancements of our 2D data that forms part of a road map that will ultimately lead to a full range of 3D products. This paper outlines our research journey from the understanding of the key 3D building characteristics to the development of geo-spatial products and the specification of research. There remains a rich seam of research into methods for capturing user-focused, geo-spatial data to enable visualisation and analysis in three dimensions. Because the process of informing and designing a product is necessarily focused on the practicalities of production, storage and distribution, this paper is presented as a case report, as we believe our journey will be of interest to others involved in the capture of 3D buildings at a national level.
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