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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Editorial

Web GIS in practice V: 3-D interactive and real-time mapping in Second Life

Maged N Kamel Boulos1* and David Burden2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health and Social Work, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AA, UK

2 Daden Limited, 103 Oxford Rd, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 9SG, UK

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2007, 6:51  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-6-51

Published: 27 November 2007


This paper describes technologies from Daden Limited for geographically mapping and accessing live news stories/feeds, as well as other real-time, real-world data feeds (e.g., Google Earth KML feeds and GeoRSS feeds) in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life, by plotting and updating the corresponding Earth location points on a globe or some other suitable form (in-world), and further linking those points to relevant information and resources. This approach enables users to visualise, interact with, and even walk or fly through, the plotted data in 3-D. Users can also do the reverse: put pins on a map in the virtual world, and then view the data points on the Web in Google Maps or Google Earth. The technologies presented thus serve as a bridge between mirror worlds like Google Earth and virtual worlds like Second Life. We explore the geo-data display potential of virtual worlds and their likely convergence with mirror worlds in the context of the future 3-D Internet or Metaverse, and reflect on the potential of such technologies and their future possibilities, e.g. their use to develop emergency/public health virtual situation rooms to effectively manage emergencies and disasters in real time. The paper also covers some of the issues associated with these technologies, namely user interface accessibility and individual privacy.