Reuse scenario

4D urban models from historical maps using AI methods

The University of Technology Dresden, the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and the University of Würzburg, Germany, work together with infrastructure providers like the Thuringian State Library and SMEs to develop automated workflows for automatically creating 4D city models from imagery and making those available as browser-based applications currently at TRL6 for mobile city viewing and desktop-based information search. In 5Dculture those workflows and applications will be improved and used for the cities of Amsterdam (NL), Dresden (DE) and Trento (IT).
This use case combines the toolkits for creating large scale digitised historical 3D maps of cities, for predicting building height using AI-based methods, the automatic geo-location and orientation pipelines for historical photographs and the tools for mobile and desktop access and visualisation. This will be tested and prototyped in the cities of Trento, Amsterdam and Dresden. Applications are to provide location-based content, for tourists and a heritage information system.


One data viewer to be used within the frame of this scenario is a browser-based mobile 4D viewer 4DCity. It enables time-variant virtual 3D impressions of historic cities to a multi-device visual interface – capable of being accessed via desktop, mobile devices, via AR and VR glasses. This application is capable of providing worldwide 4D visual impressions, generated on the fly from data sources such as Europeana, Open Street Map and OpenDEM. It enables virtual city tours and past-plays as e.g. mixed-reality escape or discovery games and provide access to knowledge assets from open source platforms such as Wikipedia or tourism and booking platforms as Mapbox, Google Places or Triposo.

Figure 2: 4DCity viewer Dresden.


As a cooperation of the Technical University Dresden and the University Würzburg, a digital online research tool, called 4D-Browser, was developed. The aim was to enrich a digital 3D city model of the city of Dresden, consisting of about 120 3D models, with currently 1.500 historical photographs and to add 3D models of buildings, which were destroyed or altered in their appearance. An added timeline demonstrates the urban architectural development of the city in four dimensions. In this context, several historical buildings were reconstructed in the form of 3D models based on historical photographs, texts, sketches etc. In contrast to common online databases of photographs, the 4D-Browser offers an innovative and interactive access to historical photographs, allowing users to search the photos through space and time.

Figure 3: 4D browser with location-based photographs indicating the position of the photographers.

Within the scenario, 4D city models of Dresden, Trento and Amsterdam will be enhanced and/or created in highly automated workflows on the base of historical imagery from Europeana and presented via the two data viewers. Thereby they provide both, a location-based cultural tourism information system and a search interface for city history assets.

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