How to export GIS Data to Unreal Engine for Real Time Visualization

The best and most efficient way to export any GIS Data (Geographic Information System) to any 3D Application of your choice. I documented the most effcient workflow to get any 3D Geographic Data in the world and to use it for City Planing, Real Estate Development and 3D Visualization.

Especially if you want to create City Models in Real Time. I prefer to use Epic’s Unreal Engine. But before I can get all the 3d models and the data into Unreal, I need to know where I can get accurate data.

How to download, extract, convert and prepare data from the geographic information system.

Perhaps you are an Architect, or you might work for the government or any department for your local city and it’s important for you to use geographical data. For me, as a 3D Visualizer and also working for Real Estate Developers and Architects – it’s very important to understand all my options and possibilites.

And yes, I was asked many times how I can pull accurate geographical data and use all the information for an accurate Real Time Visualization. Especially when it comes to architectural rendering for Real Estate Developers – it’s important to have an accurate scale model. In this case, a digital 3D City Model.

In this Tutorial I am going to explain how to export a .map region file from different public and open source GIS Data Sources. Both options are 100% FREE. My favorite options is the second one using cadmapper.

However. To get all the proper steps done, it requires to install some extra 3D Software – but CAD Mapper it’s much faster, the quality is much better and you don’t have to worry so much about cleaning up all the 3d data.

But let’s get started with the first approach. I recommend to read the entire article, so you get a much better overview of your options. Are you ready having some fun? Well, then let’s jump straight into this wonderful Video Tutorial.

Open Street Map

The first GIS Data Platform I would like to use is Open Street Map. OpenStreetMap data is licensed under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL). And you can download any data you need.

Just type any address you would like to get your GIS data. And once this is done, zoom into the region you are interested.

Once this is done. Just click the Export Button and download the Open Street Map File. It’s usually a file called map.osm

Once you downloaded your .osm file, you need to make sure you can open the file and you are able to read the 3d data. Unfortunately, OpenStreetMap doesn’t provide a viewer by default.

But I have good news for you. There is also one tool, that’s also an open source program that allows you to read that data as well. Furthermore, you are not just able to view the 3d data. You can also export the data for use in any other 3d applications of your choice.

OSM2WORLD

With OSM2WORLD you can create 3d models from OpenStreetMap. The Website usually contains their latest built free for download. You can check it out and download directly from their website at this url: http://osm2world.org/download/

I noticed, that sometimes their latest built was not available for download. If that’s the case, you can also download a .zip file directly from GitHub.

And if that download might be broken, you can Download 100% for Free from my File Sharing Space. Download OSM2WORLD.

Once downloaded, extract the .zip file. You will see a folder, that contains the following files.

Double-Click the OSM2World.jar file and run the Java Application. The Application appears within a little black window. Click File–>and open the downloaded OSM File.

Below is a screenshot, how the 3d data will look like, once the .osm file was loaded into the viewer.

CADMAPPER

My personal favorite is CADMapper. That Platform is also an Open Source Geographic Information System. But compared to the OpenStreetMap database, it has one huge advantage.

It’s the advantage, that you can export 3D data for different software packages. At the moment the following software packages are supported.

  • AutoCAD
  • Rhinoceros
  • Sketchup
  • Adobe Illustrator

If you are an architect, you might be lucky to have an AutoCAD application. Individuals might prefer to use Sketchup. A very nice tool that makes it pretty easy to work with 3d data.

In my particular case, I am using Sketchup. The platform works the same way like OpenStreetMap. Just type into the search box the location of your choice. Zoom into the region you would like to export.

And before you download, make sure you make the proper selections for the software you would like to use. In my case, I selected Sketchup and exported directly a SkechUp File. All you have to do after downloading the file is opening the file in your preferred 3d software package.

Once I got my model into Sketchup. I used Datasmith to export all my data to the Unreal Engine.