It doesn't matter if there is a war there, as was the case recently when Vexcel Corp. produced its second project, a model of Baghdad, Iraq, with bombed palaces shown in red (below). Nor does it matter if the country objects.

(Photo courtesy of Vexcel Corp.)

Vexcel builds models from data with 60-centimeter resolution. Models have 1-meter vertical and 1 to 2-m horizontal accuracy, depending on latitude. A few GPS points taken on the ground are sufficient to reference them. Wolfgang Walcher, director of Vexcel's Mapping and GIS division, says accuracy and price is comparable to models built from aerial photography. "The paradigm change is no longer being dependent on local aerial survey firms," he says.

The smallest project area is about 100 sq miles. Price depends upon the feature density extracted. A road network in an area that size would cost about $50,000 while a complete urban building inventory would run about $100,000.

ame a place virtually anywhere in the world and in a few weeks–even days, in some cases–a Boulder, Colo., company can now produce a highly detailed 3D model of it from recent or custom satellite data.