Tools and Technologies

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This section provides an introduction to various hardware and software tools presently serving the broader geodesign community.

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Software Tools


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Geodesign Tools

GeoPlanner for ArcGIS by Esri
Bring all the steps of your planning workflow into one place. You can use GeoPlanner to make location-driven decisions on land use, natural resource conservation, forestry management, and landscape architecture. From project creation and data management to evaluating scenarios and preparing reports, you can manage your planning process more efficiently.

Geodesign Hub by Geodesign Hub
Geodesign Hub is software for collaborative geodesign. It enables teams to create and share concepts, to design collaboratively, and to receive change-assessments instantly – all in a highly synergetic, efficient and easy to use environment. It is especially effective in the early stages of a complex study or project, when many alternatives must be rapidly created & considered.

GIS Tools

ArcGIS by Esri
ArcGIS provides contextual tools for mapping and spatial reasoning so you can explore data and share location-based insights. ArcGIS creates deeper understanding, allowing you to quickly see where things are happening and how information is connected.

ModelBuilder by Esri
ModelBuilder is Esri's graphical environment for doing geoprocessing. ModelBuilder, which is part of ArcGIS desktop, provides the user with a graphical tool kit for building and executing geoprocessing models.

ArcGIS Online by Esri
ArcGIS Online is a complete, cloud-based mapping platform. Make and share beautiful maps, and do everything in between. It’s possible only with ArcGIS Online, a scalable and secure software-as-a-service hosted by Esri.

GRASS GIS by Open Source
GRASS is a free and open source GIS software suite used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics and maps production, spatial modeling, and visualization. GRASS is currently used in academic and commercial settings around the world, as well as by many governmental agencies and environmental consulting companies.

TerrSet (IDRISI) by Clark Labs
The IDRISI GIS Analysis tools are the foundation on which TerrSet is built. In development for almost three decades, the IDRISI GIS tool set offers over 300 analytical tools for the exploration of our rapidly changing world. Though primarily oriented to the manipulation of raster geospatial datasets, there are traditional tools to meet the needs of the day-to-day GIS professional as well as advanced procedures for complex modeling and analysis.

Land Change Modeler by Clark Labs
The Land Change Modeler for ArcGIS software extension is an innovative land planning and decision support tool. With an automated, user-friendly workflow, Land Change Modeler for ArcGIS simplifies the complexities of change analysis, resource management and habitat assessment. Land Change Modeler for ArcGIS provides a start-to-finish solution for your land change analysis needs.

QGIS by Open Source
QGIS is a user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS) licensed under the GNU General Public License. QGIS is an official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). It runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, Windows and Android and supports numerous vector, raster, and database formats and functionalities.

PostGIS by Open Source
PostGIS is a spatial database extender for PostgreSQL object-relational database. It adds support for geographic objects allowing location queries to be run in SQL. In addition to basic location awareness, PostGIS offers many features rarely found in other competing spatial databases such as Oracle Locator/Spatial and SQL Server. Refer to PostGIS Feature List for more details.

3D Modeling and Visualization Tools

CityEngine by Esri
Esri CityEngine improves urban planning, architecture, and design. Use its 3D visualization power to see the relationships of projects, assess their feasibility, and plan their implementation. CityEngine helps you make quality decisions that benefit your community for decades.

SketchUp by Trimble
SketchUp is hands-down the most intuitive, not to mention powerful, easy-to-learn 3D drawing tool on the planet. Its main limitation is that does not handle complex curved surfaces. It is available for free as SketchUp Make and for a fee as SketchUp Pro. Pro includes LayOut for creating 2D presentations and design documents.

Rhinoceros by Robert McNeel and Associates
Rhino is a 3D modeling program that can be used to can create, edit, analyze, document, render, animate, and translate NURBS* curves, surfaces, and solids, point clouds, and polygon meshes. There are no limits on complexity, degree, or size beyond those of your hardware.

Grasshopper by David Rutten at Robert McNeel and Associates
Grasshopper is a graphical algorithm editor tightly integrated with Rhino’s 3-D modeling tools. Unlike RhinoScript, Grasshopper requires no knowledge of programming or scripting, but still allows designers to build form generators from the simple to the awe-inspiring.

Urban Simulation Tools

UrbanSIM by the Center for Urban Simulation
UrbanSim is a simulation system for supporting planning and analysis of urban development, incorporating the interactions between land use, transportation, the economy, and the environment. It is designed for organizations and individuals interested in exploring the effects of infrastructure and development constraints.

Drone Mapping and Image Processing

Drone2Map by Esri
Drone2Map for ArcGIS streamlines the creation of professional imagery products from drone-captured still imagery for visualization and analysis in ArcGIS.

Site Scan by 3D Robotics
The complete drone software solution for AEC. Thoughtfully designed for enterprise scale deployment and successful data capture on day one. Includes cloud storage and processing.

Integrated Applications

CommuniyViz by City Explained
CommunityViz tools allow you to envision alternatives and understand their potential impacts; explore options and share possibilities with others who have a stake in the outcomes; examine scenarios from all angles - and feel confident that you've made the best possible decisions. CommunityViz 5.1, an extension for Esri's ArcGIS platform, consists of two components: Scenario 360 for analysis and communication, and Scenario 3D for 3D visualization. See Demo Videos

UrbanFootprint by Open Source
UrbanFootprint comprises a suite of tools and analytical engines that vastly decrease the time and resources required to get up and running with scenario development, while signifi - cantly increasing the technical capacity of state, regional, and local users to analyze the fiscal, environmental, transportation, and public health impacts of plans and policies. Moreover, it provides a common data framework within which planning efforts at various scales can be integrated and synced. See Technical Summary.

Collaboration Tools

Skype by Microsoft
Skype is best known for their video calling capability, which enables anyone with a webcam to see and speak to another Skype user. If you don’t have a webcam or prefer not to use one, make a voice call instead. Skype also gives you the added capability of sending instant messages to other Skype members or text messages to any mobile phone number. Sending texts requires Skype credit, but the instant messaging is free. All of these additional features make the Skype softphone one of the most powerful tools in the industry for fast and easy communication.

Slack by Slack
Slack is a cloud-based messaging application that focuses on team collaboration, internal messaging and instant messaging. Slack is designed to reduce extraneous meetings, give teams quicker access to information and assets, and streamline communication. Its primary features include messaging, file sharing, security, and integration with other productivity programs such as Trello, Asana, GitHub and Google Apps.

Zoom by Zoom Video Communications
Zoom is a desktop video conferencing tool similar to Skype. It allows a group of people to interact in real time through audio, video and text messages. The advantage of Zoom is that participants do not need to share contact information with each other or create accounts. The host emails an invitation containing the link to the meeting room. Participants click on the link, download a launcher the first time they use Zoom, and go into the meeting room. Meetings can be scheduled ahead of time or initiated on the fly.

Hardware Tools


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Graphic Tablets

Cintiq Companion 2 by Wacom
This unique Wacom professional creative tablet features Cintiq Connect technology that adapts easily to the work experience you want, where you need it. Use it as a stand-alone Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 (depending on model) tablet, powered by an Intel Core™ processor or attach it to a Mac or PC, all while preserving the integrity of your work.

MobileStudio Pro by Wacom
Designed to give you the freedom to create anywhere Wacom MobileStudio Pro packs a whole studio of creative tools into a lightweight mobile pen computer featuring the new Wacom Pro Pen 2. Move seamlessly through your workflow from 2D to 3D wherever you want to create.

iPad Pro by Apple
No matter the task, the new iPad Pro is up to it — and then some. It offers far more power than most PC laptops, yet is delightfully simple to use. The redesigned Retina display is as stunning to look at as it is to touch. And it all comes together with iOS, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. iPad Pro. Everything you want modern computing to be. Now even, well, better.

Graphic Tablets/Laptops

Surface Book 2 by Microsoft
The latest member of the Surface Book family is built around a new, innovative Performance Base that delivers crisp, vibrant graphics and up to 16 hours of battery life, with an Intel® Core™ i7 processor and NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 965M 2GB GPU, gives you the increased speed and graphics performance you need for engineering, design, and everything in between.

Surface Pro 4 by Microsoft
Surface Pro 4 is light enough to take anywhere and powerful enough to use as a full desktop workstation. Surface Pro 4 is meticulously crafted to be a powerful, ultrathin laptop — or a beautiful tablet that can stand on its own — all with up to 9 hours of video playback. The 12.3” PixelSense™ display has extremely high contrast and low glare, giving you a true-to-life picture.

Graphic Work Surfaces

Surface Studio by Microsoft
Surface Studio is designed for the creative process. The 28” PixelSense™ Display gives you a huge canvas for all kinds of work. Use it upright, or draw on it like a drafting table. Sketch, paint, and draw on the brilliant 28” PixelSense™ Display. Innovative Zero-Gravity Hinge lets you work upright in Desktop Mode or down in Studio Mode, moving the display effortlessly with one hand. Collaborate and share work with teammates. Run professional-grade software. Log in with facial recognition technology.

Pen Displays

Cintiq by Wacom
Wacom's line of creative pen displays delivers a range of choices for accomplished creatives. Choose yours based on screen sizes, display footprint and portability, depending on your needs. On all models, you'll enjoy the experience of working directly on screen with our pressure-sensitive pen.

Digital Whiteboards

Surface Hub by Microsoft
Unlock the power of the group and accelerate collaboration and innovation. Connect individuals, regardless of their location, to digital Whiteboard and integrated conferencing, apps, and more. Bring teams together on a big screen and discover new ways to generate ideas. Ink directly and naturally on the Whiteboard, and capture all your ideations. Pull in multimedia and content from other apps. With Surface Hub, your teams can collaborate in new ways, with apps optimized for large-screen pen and touch experiences.

Jamboard by Google
Your team’s creativity has no limits with Jamboard. Sketch your ideas whiteboard-style on a brilliant 4k display, designed for the way you work. Drop images, add notes, and pull things directly from the web while you collaborate with team members from anywhere. Jamboard’s stunning 55-inch, 4k display shines as the focal point for creativity in the workplace. It’s easy to move around the office with its purpose-built portable stand and single-cable setup. You’ll never have to worry about running out of ink or batteries.

Virtual Reality Headsets

Vive VR System by HTC
Precise, 360-degree controller and headset tracking, realistic graphics, directional audio and HD haptic feedback mean realistic movement and actions in the virtual world. It doesn’t get more first-person than this. The Chaperone system warns you about the boundaries of your play area, so you stay immersed in VR without worrying about the real-world. The front-facing camera also gives you a glimpse of the real-world – so you can sit down, grab a drink or carry on a conversation without taking off the headset.

Rift by Ocuclus
Light, adaptable, and comfortable. When you‘re in VR, the headset goes away and you go somewhere incredible. Touch brings the magic of hand presence to life in VR. What you hear is as important as what you see. Rift‘s integrated 360° spatial audio takes the immersive power of VR to new depths.

Daydreamby Google
Simple, high quality virtual reality. Powered by any Daydream-ready phone, Daydream View is a comfortable, easy-to-use headset designed with choice in mind. Standalone VR headsets are in development.

Gear VR by Samsung
It's easy to get lost in the world of virtual reality because the Gear VR is engineered to feel lighter. While you're journeying through uncharted lands, the strap keeps the Gear VR securely on and the foam cushioning helps prevent too much light from seeping in. Gear VR is engineered with your comfort in mind and is designed to feel comfortable when you’re wearing it.


Phantom Series by DJI
The Phantom Series drones provide affordable pro-level aerial imaging with features designed for both indoor and outdoor flight.

Mavic Drones by DJI
The Mavic drones are small and yet powerful drone that turns the sky into your creative canvas easily and without worry, helping you make every moment an aerial moment. Its compact size hides a high degree of complexity that makes it one of DJI’s most sophisticated flying cameras ever. 24 high-performance computing cores, an all-new transmission system with a 4.3mi (7km) *range, 5 vision sensors, and a 4K camera stabilized by a 3-axis mechanical gimbal, are at your command with just a push of your thumb or a tap of your finger.

Spark Drones by DJI
Meet Spark, a mini drone that features all of DJI's signature technologies, allowing you to seize the moment whenever you feel inspired. With intelligent flight control options, a mechanical gimbal, and a camera with incredible image quality, Spark empowers you to push your creative boundaries.

Inspire 2 Drones by DJI
The Inspire 1 was a revelation. The first filmmaking drone in the world to integrate an HD video transmission system, 360° rotating gimbal and a 4K camera, as well as the simplicity of app control. The launches of the Zenmuse X5 and X5R cameras further cemented the Inspire as a critical tool for filmmakers around the globe. The Inspire 2 takes everything that was good about the Inspire 1 and improves it.

Matrice 100 by DJI
Start flying quickly, and enjoy stable, reliable flight. Your Matrice 100 platform has all of DJI’s easy-to-fly technology built in, and includes the flight controller, propulsion system, GPS, DJI Lightbridge, a dedicated remote controller, and a rechargeable battery. This system automatically manages the most complex tasks required for flight, so you can focus on your work.

Matrice 200 Series by DJI
High-performance motors paired with 17-inch propellers ensure stable flight in strong winds. The new dual-battery power system automatically heats batteries when flying in sub-zero temperatures, while an enclosed design ensures weather and water resistance, so you can fly in a wide range of environments.

Matrice 600 Pro by DJI
The Matrice 600 Pro has improved flight performance and better loading capacity than previous models. Pre-installed arms and antennas reduce time required for setup, and the system’s modular design makes it easy to mount additional modules. The airframe is equipped with the latest DJI technologies, including the A3 Pro flight controller, Lightbridge 2 HD transmission system, Intelligent Batteries and Battery Management system. All Zenmuse cameras and gimbals are natively compatible and full integration with third party software and hardware make the M600 Pro ideal for professional aerial photography and industrial applications.

FPV Drones by Parrot
Experience a whole new dimension of freedom with Parrot FPV drones.
Zip through the air at top speed or venture to explore your surroundings. 

Beginner Drones by Holy Stone
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FPV Drones by Holy Stone
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Big Dude Drones by Holy Stone
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Basic Drones by UDI
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FPV Drones by UDI
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Karma Drone by GoPro
New pilots will fly with confidence while seasoned pros will enjoy Karma's performance. GoPro's Passenger app let's friends view your flight. Designed for recreational use, Karma is the choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

See also: Hero Cameras by GoPro
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Emerging Technologies


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PenComputing 10

Pen Computing

Pen-based computing, which is currently emerging as an alternative (or supplement) to mouse-based computing, is becoming more and more popular with creative types. Its popularity is being driven by three factors: user preference, technology, and applications. More

3Dmouse 2

The 3D Mouse and other Pucks

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VirtualReality 1

Virtual Reality

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AugmentedReality 3

Augmented Reality

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VoiceRecognition 1

Voice Recognition

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Drones 3


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3dPrinting 1

3D Printing

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Holograms 3


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