Visual Analyst 3D – Landscape, Peaks and Colour

Changes to simple terrain features may have dramatic visual effects.

Small changes to the terrain attributes, such as colour, peaks or layout data view, bring up unique data features to the focus. For example, consider the following (slightly distorted) map of the Melbourne City area, Australia and its overlay of traffic accidents immediately below.


Data terrain features clearly align with the features of the map, with deep blue hollows pointing out to the presence of parks and waterways. The streaks in colour seem to follow the major road arteries. In this terrain, the brightness of colour corresponds to the average age of people involved in accidents in a given area, where patches of orange on accident peaks indicates the older people and a range of colour from purple to blue indicate the younger drivers, passengers and pedestrians. However, it is not until the colour shift is applied that these features clearly stand out.

Should the presence of peaks distract from the focus on the general city areas where the elder population suffers from vehicle accidents, a switch to the landscape view smooths such details out.

Altering the terrain elevation may further highlight or diminish these details. For example, as exemplified by the following screen shot, by taking a high bird view of the terrain and reducing the elevation, we can obtain a more traditional “heat map” of the accidents in the city area. The “flat” map could be useful in a single glance appraisal of the accidents spread, however, the ability to navigate the terrain and assessment of its multiple features simultaneously (such as elevation and colour) from many vantage points is significantly impaired.

For more information see the Immersive and Collaborative Analytics.

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