The powerful combination of high-resolution 3D geospatial data and the emerging software necessary to quickly access and analyze it is poised to bring significant changes to both the geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) community and the commercial marketplace.

In July, Cesium made industry headlines after announcing it had spun-out from parent company AGI following a $5 million investment from Falcon Global Capital.

“To accelerate Cesium and meet the opportunity we think is out there, the right thing to do was to spin-out into a new company, which allows us to bring in outside capital, to build a separate culture and brand, and to run as fast as possible,” said CEO Patrick Cozzi, who wrote the first lines of Cesium code as an AGI employee.

Cesium was first developed at AGI in 2011 and marketed to the aerospace and defense sector as a web-based, next-generation platform for tiling, visualizing, and analyzing 3D data. After Cesium was made open source as a JavaScript library, it quickly drew interest from other industries including drones, virtual reality, entertainment, and AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction).

Though Cozzi is often credited for starting Cesium, he emphasized that since 2011 dozens of AGI team members, as well as nearly 200 contributors from open-source sites such as GitHub, have played a part in advancing the platform. In parallel, the exponential growth of 3D data has also contributed to the software’s popularity.

“Trends in 3D data acquisition have fundamentally changed,” Cozzi said. “More data is being captured than ever before at a higher resolution, at a higher frequency, and is more readily available. This data acquisition trend is driving interest in software in order to make that data useful.”

Recent demonstrations of Cesium’s technology include visualizing athlete progress for the Red Bull X-Alps app and powering NORAD’s Christmas Eve Santa tracker.

Moving forward, Cozzi said the federal market will remain a key focus for Cesium in addition to expanding its relationships with drone data companies as well as all manner of “smart” industries—“smart cities, digital twins, any virtual construction of the real-world and even combining with the synthetic world.”

“The 3D geospatial world is a broad platform that can serve many different markets that have a need for high-precision 3D location data,” he said. “We want to keep our platform as a general technology base that’s applicable to many markets.” 

Cesium is now hiring, with ambitious plans to double in size over the next six months. Five years from now, Cozzi predicts the intersection of geospatial data and computer graphics will have increased such that useful insight and situational awareness are seamless for end users.

“They won’t be writing any code, just picking up the app and getting the answer they need,” he mused.

The path toward this goal is visible with the corresponding growth of 3D data providers such as Vricon.

“When we look at the combination of data like what Vricon has created and software like what Cesium has created, we see a complete pipeline from data acquisition to end user in a customizable and clean workflow,” Cozzi said.

Though no one or two companies will achieve such advances alone, Cozzi said, highlighting the importance of the open-source community and standards organizations such as the Open Geospatial Consortium.

“We believe there is so much potential for 3D geospatial data that no one vendor is going to solve all of the issues,” he concluded. “Therefore, we believe in building a platform that enables an open ecosystem.”

Headline Image: High-resolution Philadelphia photogrammetry model captured by aircraft and streamed to Cesium using the 3D Tiles OGC Community Standard. Model courtesy of Bentley Systems.

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Posted by Kristin Quinn