ESRI Users Can Now Leverage their 2D Data in 3D with FME

FME’s 3D Transformation Capabilities Improve Data Interoperability for ArcGIS Users

Vancouver, BC, July 30, 2009 – Safe Software announced today that FME, the leading spatial ETL (extract, transform and load) solution, now enables ESRI users to leverage their 2D Data in 3D within their existing ESRI ArcGIS environment. FME’s data transformation capabilities along with its support for over 225 formats, including many popular 3D formats, ensure that ESRI users can access the data they need and make use of it for innovative 3D applications.

FME’s transformation capabilities and 3D support make it possible to take 2D data with an implied 3D aspect and turn it into true, 3D data for visualization in ArcGIS 9.3. Soon, organizations will also be able to use it with the 3D editing and routing tools that ESRI announced will be available in ArcGIS 9.4. FME also extends the format support of ESRI ArcGIS, enabling users to directly integrate their true 3D information with other data for the most complete situational overview possible to date.

Recently, the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst put the power of FME technology to the test in a 3D campus planning initiative. They transformed and integrated their 2D CAD and GIS data into a 3D model for use in their enterprise ESRI environment. According to Dr. Alexander Stepanov, the technical lead on the project, and GIS/CAD Analyst at UMass Amherst, the 3D model has provided a highly effective visual method to facilitate campus planning efforts, which previously was not possible to create without manual data modeling.

UMass Amherst’s 3D model was achieved by using FME technology to first extract only the data needed from the originating CAD floorplan drawings and transform them into true 3D geometries using floor height information and the base elevations derived from a digital terrain model. The resulting 3D objects were then integrated with their GIS data for a complete, accurate 3D model of their campus. FME’s transformation capabilities also enabled them to manipulate the data during the integration process without restructuring the source dataset.

Supporting UMass Amherst’s space management planning, their new 3D model now enables them to visualize their campus’ space utilization in 3D, which is easier for the human mind to grasp as it more closely represents the real world than 2D information. Also, with FME enabling them to perform data manipulation during the integration process, the GIS department was able to avoid time-consuming post processing. This also ensured that they could achieve their accurate 3D model without interrupting existing IT infrastructure or the daily workflows of the architects, engineers and surveyors who maintain the source data.

"FME is such a powerful tool that we’ve just scratched the surface of what we can do with it," says Niels la Cour, lead of the project and Physical Planner at UMass Amherst. "We’ve already achieved so much by combining various datasets into our 3D model in a fairly short timeframe. Without FME, such a project would have required such intensive manual labor that it wouldn’t have been practical to create."

Moving forward, UMass Amherst is planning to use FME to bring their newly captured LiDAR data into the mix for the creation of wire building frames. This will support the addition of photo renderings to create an even more realistic model of the campus, and therefore provide an even closer visual representation of spatial proximity for their facility planning efforts.

FME offers support for popular 3D formats including IFC and Autodesk 3ds, exchange formats CityGML and Wavefront OBJ, free viewing format Adobe 3D PDF, and 3D data types in ESRI ArcSDE. These 3D capabilities, first in the industry, are the result of more than two years of research and development by Safe Software. Upon identifying the growing interest in 3D data, Safe Software focused their FME development efforts to address common 3D interoperability challenges and first introduced 3D format support in March 2008. The company remains committed today to improving access to 3D data in response to this growing market need. Work is currently underway to include greater support for 3D textures in ESRI Geodatabase and Autodesk AutoCAD, as well as increased support for 3D formats such as the popular 3D authoring tools Sketchup and Collada.

For more than 10 years, the partnership between Safe Software and ESRI has enabled ArcGIS users to access the data they need to use within their ESRI environment. FME extends the format capabilities of ArcGIS, enabling users to work with non-native formats in their analyses, geoprocessing and visualizations, and restructure data models within the familiarity of ArcGIS. FME technology also enables ArcGIS Server users to easily transform their data on-the-fly for distribution to different user communities. Organizations interested in learning more can visit

About Safe and FME
Safe Software powers the flow of spatial data with its software platform, FME. The recognized standard in spatial ETL (extract, transform and load), FME is the only complete solution for data conversion. It delivers the most extensive format support for data translation and integration, and provides unlimited flexibility in data model transformation and distribution. FME is used by thousands of customers worldwide in a variety of industries including government, utilities, and petroleum. Its powerful data access technology also makes FME the choice of leading GIS, CAD, and database vendors for integration into their own solutions. Designed for true data interoperability, FME unleashes spatial data so people can use it where, when, and how they want to. For more information, visit