2.3. System and design decisions

The 3D City Database is implemented as a relational database schema using the spatial datatypes provided by a spatially-enhanced relational database management system (SRDBMS). Above, external software applications and database stored procedures are provided working on this database schema. Since only Oracle with the Spatial or Locator licensing option (10G R2 or higher) and PostgreSQL (9.3 or higher) with PostGIS extension (2.0 or higher) offer comprehensive support for 3D spatial data, the 3D City Database schema is being provided for these two systems only.

In addition to the general advantages arising from the usage of a widely used relational database management system (RDBMS), both Oracle Spatial/Locator and PostgreSQL/ PostGIS offer some important performance characteristics that allow an efficient imple­men­tation of the required functionalities:

  • Both RDBMS support spatial data types with coordinates ranging from 2D to 4D. Spatial indexes and filters can be 2D or 3D allowing for efficient spatial selections in very large city models.
  • The spatial data types are supported by a number of commercial and Open Source GIS that provide a database connection as for example ESRI’s ArcGIS/ArcSDE or Safe Software’s Feature Manipulation Engine (FME). This enables such systems to directly access the data stored in the 3D geodatabase.
  • Rules can be implemented using stored procedures and trigger mechanisms which propagate updates of objects to likewise affected objects in the database (transparent for the user).

The data model of the 3D City Database is based on the CityGML 2.0 standard. The object-oriented data model of CityGML has been mapped to a purely relational data model with the exception that geometry objects are mapped to the spatial datatypes provided by the SDBMS. In order to achieve high performance for data manipulations and queries the mapping was done manually with a number of optimizations. A few simplifying assumptions where made regarding the usage of the CityGML concepts in the real world helping to increase performance. These are documented in the data modelling chapter.

Surface-based geometries like Polygons, TINs, MultiSurfaces as well as Solids are stored in a special way: they are decomposed into their primitive surfaces and each surface is stored as an individual tuple in one big surface table. The reason for this is that each surface can be assigned multiple appearances (e.g. textures) in CityGML and, thus, each appearance must be explicitly linkable to the corresponding surface. For Solids also the solid geometry objects are stored in addition to their decomposed boundary surfaces allowing to apply spatial operations on them like the computation of the volume.

The provided software tools like the Importer/Exporter application are implemented in the Java language in order to be platform independent. The tools have been confirmed to run under Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Apple Mac OS X. High performance is achieved by exploiting multi-threading on multiprocessor or multi-core CPU systems.