Formerly an ocean engineering and naval architecture companyn Makai Ocean Engineering currently provides ocean engineering services, including submarine cable installation and planning software.
As such, Makai recently released Makai Voyager; an advanced 3D/4D visualization platform that uses time-varying and complex geospatial data such as terrain imagery, elevation, LIDAR, volumetric and flow data to better visualize and analyze large environmental simulations. The above image is one example of what using Makai Voyager can accomplish.
Makai Voyager is much more advanced than the typical Geographic Information System (GIS) by ESRI. By being able to utilize existing advanced 3D geospatial data, analysts and planners can better display and interpret proposed changes to the built and natural environments for stakeholders, elected officials, and residents.
While representing the next stages of site analysis, my biggest reservation about Makai Voyager and similar software is that it still seems out of reach from most small budget communities, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations. For instance, Makai does not even offer a pricing guide on its website, and instead it directs interested parties toward its contact page. The only reason some of these organizations even have ArcGIS capabilities is because ESRI offers generous grants (even if to prevent these organizations from going toward open source solutions like GRASS GIS, Quantum GIS, or SAGA GIS). Otherwise, big firms are the only organizations that can afford it.
Makai provides free DEMO software for Makai Voyager 1.0 [see system requirements for either MAC, Windows (32-bit and 64-bit versions), and Linux (32-bit and 64-bit versions)]. Feel free to try out this impressive software.
Below is a real-time fly through video of downtown Ottawa, Canada sampled with nearly 1 billion 3D points.