Shanghai: digital map to provide 3D view of downtown 2007-02-10 13:48:18

    BEIJING, Feb. 10 -- By the time the World Expo opens in 2010, travelers will no longer have to visit Shanghai in person to enjoy a three-dimensional tour of its downtown core. They will only have to boot up their computers.

    The city plans to create a digital, three-dimensional map of Shanghai that can be easily searched online. The project will be similar to Google Earth, a site that lets you study satellite images of the planet, but will provide an even better look at the city's architecture, according to Shu Rong, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, which will provide airborne camera technology for use in the project.

    Users will be able to view the map using a PC or cell phone.

    "The map will provide a vivid city tour," Shu said, noting it will include pictures of the sides of buildings, unlike the Google site which only provides a birds-eye view of cities.

    City officials expect the project will be complete in time for the World Expo, which is expected to attracted 70 million visitors to Shanghai.

    Airplanes and helicopters equipped with several cameras mounted at different angles will take pictures across the downtown core - an area that covers about 600 square kilometers. The pictures will pick up objects as small as 15 centimeters.

    Shu said it will take more than two weeks to take the thousands of airborne pictures and an unspecified period to put the pictures together in a digital map.

    PC users will be able to point and zoom to any local area but cell phone owners may need additional hardware and mobile Internet access support to use the system.

    "Similar to Google Earth, our atlas will also need very efficient and fast computer equipment," Shu said.

    He didn't say how much the map will cost to build, or if users will be charged for using it.

    Huang Guofu, a taxi driver with Shanghai Qiangsheng Taxi Service Company, said: "The atlas must be updated very frequently because many streets are changing."

(Source: Shanghai Daily)