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April 29, 2014

Researchers Create 3D Map of Czech Cities

Tiffany Trader
IT4Innovations ANSELM 400x

Researchers at the IT4Innovations National Supercomputing Centre in the Czech Republic are working with Czech Internet portal Seznam.cz to create textured 3D city maps for the Mapy.cz portal.

Making all this possible is the center’s new supercomputer, named Anselm after a legendary local industrialist from the city of Ostrava, where the system is located. The first part of the supercomputer was installed in temporary mobile units at the Technical University of Ostrava in the Spring of 2013. The final part of the system will be supplied and put into operation in 2015, at which time the organizers expect it will rank among the top 100 systems in the world. The system will be used for nanotechnology research and development in many fields, including pharmaceuticals, engineering, and transportation technologies.

“This collaboration is a perfect example of how the computational resources of our supercomputer can be put to specific use. We believe that the planned acquisition of the big cluster will provide additional possibilities for this type of collaboration,” says Martin Palkovič, managing director of the IT4Innovations National Supercomputing Centre.

The process starts with two-dimensional aerial photographs of towns and cities and the surrounding areas, shot from different angles. Then using computationally intensive algorithms, developed by an outside company with input from IT4Innovations’ researchers, a third dimension is inferred and the images are transformed into 3D models.

“The computational algorithm utilises the resources of both conventional processors and graphics accelerators for computations with a high degree of parallelisation. The solution makes full use of our powerful hardware that is available on Anselm,” says Tomáš Kozubek, head of the research team that participated in developing the application.

The images that Anselm is processing cover nearly 8,000 km2, a surface area that corresponds to 10 percent of the Czech Republic or 1.5 times the area of the Moravian-Silesian Region, where IT4Innovations is located. The project is expected to take about six months to complete.

“In collaboration with the IT4Innovations research team and using the supercomputer, we have managed to significantly reduce the time required for processing 3D city models. We are excited that the Czech Republic’s largest 3D map will be available to our user community as early as this year,” explains Aleš Vitinger, Mapy.cz product manager.