Synchronous collaborative 3D GIS with agent support
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 09:25 by Zheng (Eric) Chang
3D geographical information systems (GIS) software tools that support synchronous collaboration efforts among distributed decision-making participants can be very useful in many application areas, such as urban planning, engineering design, disaster and emergency management, and subsurface resources management. Although research has been extensively carried out in related fields such as groupware system, collaborative virtual environments and collaborative industrial design, a comprehensive study has not been found in the 3D GIS field. The scientific goal of this research is to add synchronous collaboration capability to the Internet-enabled 3D GIS environment. More specifically, the ojbective of this research is to investigate methods and key technologies to design a synchronous collaborative Internet-enabled 3D GIS environment (SC3DGIS). In this thesis, two basic questions for synchronous collaborative 3D GIS are presented: 1) What are the special functions and usability for SC3DGIS compared to traditional and mainstream GIS applications? 2) What are the special problems in design and development of SC3DGIS when considering it as a specific type of synchronous collaborative system? In answering the above two questions, a conceptual framework is developed to investigate main aspects which play core roles in reflecting the features of SC3DGIS. The more detailed system requirements are further analyzed through a case study. The prototype design adopts two layer structures - the shared 3D environment layer and the agent assistant layer. The shared 3D environment adopts a semi-replicated architecture, while in the agent assistant layer, a multi-agent method is used to solve the complex interactions between users and the shared understanding of all parties in the framework. Two walkthroughs are presented to validate the usability of the prototype. The results of this research indicate that 1) adding synchronous and collaborative capabilities to a 3D GIS environment can significantly improve the efficiency and satisfaction of decision-making for the geographically-distributed people; 2) the events transferring method and semi-replicated architecture are more suitable for synchronous collaborative 3D GIS than a display imagery transferring method and centralized architecture because of the highly interactive 3D contents; 3) a 3D data model for collaborative purposes require explicit data state presentations, such as color and style; 4) a social collaboration model and its ontology presentation and shared catching method keep the distributed system consistent and understandable; and 5) a multi-agent method sitting on a shared 3D view can be very helpful in assisting group users to carry out more complex communications, such as discussions and making deals.