Discrete global grid systems (DGGSs) have emerged in recent years as a new specification for working with global heterogeneous data sets in a Digital Earth framework. Point clouds originating from different sources usually have varying initial characteristics. This research aims to analyze to what extent a DGGS can be used to handle point clouds having varying coordinate systems, acquired at different levels of detail (densities), and at different times in the creation of a global map of point clouds. DGGSs, which are currently limited to a 2D (surface) space, are extended into 3D and 4D spaces to fully harness the multidimensional nature of point clouds. A continuous spatial indexing strategy, based on a space-filling curve, is then developed on an ellipsoidal model of the Earth and used to efficiently cluster and retrieve DGGS-based point clouds stored in a database. Finally, the queried points are visualized in a Web browser. The hierarchical, multi-resolution nature of a DGGS is exploited to achieve a variable-scale smooth-zoom visualization. The challenges and opportunities of point cloud integration in a DGGS are presented.
- Point cloud