Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Integrated with Virtual Reality: examples from Polar Knowledge Canada's (POLAR) Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS)
2021-10-01, 08:30–09:00, Bariloche

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) offer proven mechanisms to present data from science/research, business, and innovation fields, in forms that users can understand and wield for decision making.? GIS translates raw numbers into images, scenes, charts and graphs that bring immediate understanding to users. However, viewers of these data are outside observers, separate and detached from these data. This presentation showcases how users can be immersed in data, as participants in the data, using Virtual Reality.

We are using Polar Knowledge Canada's (POLAR) Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) Campus in Cambridge Bay Nunavut Canada as the stage for applying virtual Reality (VR) to science, health and safety, geomatics, and programs development.

This presentation will address four key elements required to deploy your own solution;
1) Real world applications of VR enhancing Geoinformatics data;
2) VR FOSHardware; VR hardware solutions, and commercial hardware options;
3) FOSS applications for VR: Blender and BlenderXR, BlenderGIS, BlenderMultiUser, OpenDroneMap, CloudCompare, Dust3D, and Meshlab;
4) Bringing Geoinformatics data into VR environments / Bridging the data worlds of Geoinformatics and VR: Interoperability data formats; Basic workflows; and Managing incompatible high-offset Coordinate Systems.

In addition, we present three examples of applications;
a) Remote site familiarization with a focus on field safety;
b) Evaluating Candidate Site Development Plans; and
c) Understanding Hydrography, Watersheds, and environmental pollutant migration.

Moving on, we extend the scope with a review of the free resource repositories: models, environments, materials, DEMs (ArcticDEM in particular) and draped Imagery. Lastly, we engage in a discussion about the future of VR in Geoinformatics.

Overall, this presentation will allow attendees to develop an understanding of how VR enhances GIS by reviewing the successes of POLAR's VR solutions, how to move data from GIS environments to modeling environments, and future applications of VR, all using free and open-source solutions.

Authors and Affiliations

Christopher Arko, BSc, Polar Knowledge Canada

Lise Thibodeau, PhD, Polar Knowledge Canada

Requirements for the Attendees

If presentation: None
If considered for workshop: personal laptop with Internet connectivity (See note from previous page)


Use cases & applications


Data visualization: spatial analysis, manipulation and visualization


2 - Basic. General basic knowledge is required.

Language of the Presentation


Accidentally born with lungs instead of gills, Chris is a lover of marine worlds. He wields data and computing to fulfill his dream of re-establishing a balance between humanity and the oceans, guided by Inuit culture from the high arctic community he has called home for 13 years.