U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 94, February 2010


US government work.


This project used computer game technology to create highly interactive forest data visualization and interaction not possible with the traditional geographic information system approach. Known as GNNViz (Gradient Nearest Neighbor Vegetation Map Visualization), the program was developed by applying it to three large regions in the western U.S., though it’s readily extended to additional landscapes and spatial data formats. Developers leveraged the superior capabilities of video game technology to render realistic 3D environments and allow multiple users to interact with each other in a shared environment. Real time rendering allows users to move about and explore huge areas of terrain on many tens of kilometers across. It makes it possible for managers, planners, scientists and even members of the public, often physically separated by distance, to meet, interact and communicate in virtual versions of real world landscapes. With further development, applications like GNNViz could potentially revolutionize resource management communications, planning, training and education.