Geovisualization of Sub-surface Pipelines: A 3D Approach

  •  Abdul-Lateef Balogun    
  •  Abdul-Nasir Matori    
  •  Dano Lawal    


This century has continued to witness an ever increasing reliance on Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology for the management of utilities’ pipelines world over. Underground cables and pipelines are required to transport essential utilities such as oil, gas, water and electricity from one part of the city to another. Unlike on-surface pipelines, the fact that subsurface pipelines are hidden from the naked eyes makes them susceptible to neglect and damages without being easily noticed. Such damages and consequent pipe failures often have disastrous consequences on the environment and its inhabitants. A common source of subsurface pipeline damage is the accidental cutting of pipelines by excavation workers, oblivious of the precise underground location of such pipelines. This is largely due to the fact that pertinent decisions are usually taken using two dimensional (2D) maps as reference; however, information contained in 2D maps are often misinterpreted by both field workers and professionals alike.

Three dimensional (3D) maps are increasingly becoming popular due to their ability to overcome the limitations inherent in (2D) maps. They also aid the proper conceptualization of subsurface pipelines thereby making it easier to work around these pipelines without endangering them. One major drawback though is the exorbitant cost of most of the GIS packages that support the 3D modelling and visualization of subsurface pipelines. Furthermore, the advanced languages used in building many of these packages make it difficult for non-GIS experts and professionals to relate with them. Since people from diverse disciplines (without strong GIS background) need to visualize and analyze these subsurface pipelines on a regular basis, it is pertinent to develop a system capable of performing basic 3D visualization functions, in addition to being user-friendly and highly affordable. This paper discusses such a technique, utilizing open-source software.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.