Cube Cities Blog

The Cube Cities Blog

20 January 2013

Cube Cities Verticode Platform - Say Goodbye to Push-Pin Hell

Typical location queries work by trying to associate a street address with a specific place on a map...that process is commonly called "geocoding" an address.  Given the extreme challenges with global mapping and addressing, you're lucky if the pin on your map hits what you're looking for.

At Cube Cities, we thought that was a problem to solve, not just deal with, and were driven by the incredible business value we knew we could unlock by going that extra mile.  After significant investment in time, talent and technology, we're able to map the world in an entirely new way...drilling down through a city to the parcel, building, floor and even suite precisely determine and display exactly where something is.  This solution especially shines when you're looking for what seems like a needle in a haystack across the high-rise urban jungles of the world.

In order to power this unique geo-visual search engine, not only did we have to come up with what's next for geocoding, but we had to reinvent 3D city maps as we know them, with a new kind of geo-database loaded with special features and datatypes.  After years of effort, Cube Cities is pleased to announce the world's first map specifically designed for 3D, 4D, and Augmented Reality. 

Introducing the Verticodetm Platform.

Our patent pending Verticode System gives us the unique ability to "light up the windows" of a building to show where something is.  So where users of traditional maps are stuck in push-pin hell,  Cube Cities clients can fly over the city like superman, and scope out all the new condo's for sale in New York, confirm the ocean view of a hotel room before they book, or zero in on exactly the right office space in Hong Kong with a view of the harbor.   These maps mean business.

For Cube Cities, knowing a property's verticode was born of necessity.  Working in three (or four) dimensions requires more precise and descriptive locations than what is typically recorded by any address database or geocoding engine.

At Cube Cities, the challenge was to address detailed, mission critical, business enabling queries for real estate, travel, rentals, gis and other urban searches that involved questions like:

"What floor is that listing on?", 
"Which side of the building is the front door and loading dock?", 
"How many windows does apartment 7B have?, and 
"Which tenant was in the south east corner office of the 7th floor in May 2005"

All of which are valid concerns of our targeted audiences, and largely un-addressable by current systems or standards.  We're proud to say that our unique Verticode Platform can address those kinds of questions and more, aggregating, creating and mapping information to 3D and 4D (+time) city models for cities around the world, creating a database that has grown to include millions of data points in buildings in every major city in north america.

By adding things like temporal elements, inherent and implied associations & volumetric geofencing, we're able to map a wealth of data onto an urban landscape, and unlock the true underlying value of the data and relationships they describe.   Our Verticode Database allows us to power much more than just the sexy 3D flythroughs that attract users to the system (although that's what people know and love about us). We're in this for the long haul, dedicated to delivering next-gen maps without equal.

Inputs to our Verticode Platform including a massive amount of geospatial and industry, and patent pending CityGrid data, which is constantly growing, improving and being refreshed.  Outputs can include greatly improved positional & coordinate data, most commonly expressed in 3D via KML or other standard spatial data format rendering...which we feature in Google Earth on our site, but can be used in any 3D map platform to create the stunning visual representations that we're known for....delivering actionable information with style (see our videos here:   

Beyond the database and visuals, our verticode application layer is loaded with geospatial math functions designed to create, stylize, animate and generate amazing urban visuals across a floor, building or entire metro area.  With the ability to utilize historical or live, real-time inputs we can bring cities to life in ways never before possible.

The video below shows a randomized grid-style visual with cube icons at every cross point. It's an example of how different styles of markers can interact with each other at varied distances.

Whether your users are looking down the street or around the world, our Verticode Platform delivers jaw dropping experiences time after time.   Available in any city on demand, we're able to ingest client data like property databases, listing feeds and more.  Our flexible platform allows for turnkey integration with any site, via co-branded, white label solutions that combine results and views on the fly.  These actionable 3D visuals can be dynamically delivered online via browsers or tablets, or rendered as images or animations optimized for speed & display on a mobile phone.

There's a wide variety of visual styles available to represent any kind of data imaginable.  Our data visualization capabilities grow week by week, here's just a few examples of the types of representations available through our api today.  

Oh, and one more thing...our Verticode Platform means that Cube Cities now has the first and only multi-city urban spatial database specifically developed to power the next, Augmented Reality era.  That's a story for another time, but suffice it to say, it's kind of a big deal, as we start to build the next net in the world around us.

Mapping the world is a tremendous job, one that amazing companies like google, microsoft, apple, navteq, digital globe, and governments around the world have invested billions in...all doing incredible work.   We're fortunate and extremely grateful to be able to benefit and build off these efforts, and doing what we can to help our amazing partners, data holders and service providers, to ingest, augment and display their unique information at a whole new level.

There's still a lot of work to done to expand the scope of our undertaking. Every day, we battle against incomplete or inaccurate data.  By design, our systems and tools allow us to ingest anything from Excel lists of properties to citywide geodatabases...but the challenge is daunting.  As if dealing with hundreds of sources of data wasn't difficult enough, trying to co-registering and update these points, lines, shapes, parcels, imagery basemaps and other data is further complicated by issues with quality, currency, completeness and resolution.

At Cube Cities, we strive to take all these inputs, and create the most complete, current, accurate -and- precise verticode for a property possible.  Experience tells us that knowing the source and quality of the data we're dealing with can often mitigate perceived "problems" with the map itself.   We also know there's a lot of wildcards in the mapping game, so we put in features that allow for fast fixes, and will remain dedicated to quickly improving our service and results, on a day to day basis.

High Accuracy,
Low Precision
Low Accuracy,
Hi Precision 
Clients can rest assured that while absolute accuracy of any map will always be a moving target, ours improves with every bundled input, and our relative accuracy is very precise.  Note: While most people use the terms "accuracy & precision" interchangeably, they're actually quite different. A position can be accurate but not precise, precise but not accurate, neither, or both. For more, check out:  

In addition to our commercial services, we'll be exposing and publishing corrected data and other expressions of this painstakingly created resource to the public domain for the benefit of all, and look forward to working with standards groups like OGC to increase utility, ease interoperability and build a better map for the world.   

Please contact us at for api access, partnerships, data exchange and to put this new level of "knowledge of place" and actionable information to work for your business today.

17 January 2013

Introducing Verticode: The Cube Cities Platform

Verticode is the Cube Cities geocoding platform for rich city search applications and white-label web products. Imagine Verticode as a huge database of known points covering every building surface in the city. What if those points were organized by building attributes and matched with commercial data sources like Expedia and MLS systems, creating actionable visual information overtop of the cityscape? That's Verticode.

Our massive database of geocoordinates covers buildings in every major city in North America and regularly expands and updates. This vast data source enables urban data to come to life anywhere in the world. Verticode's application layer is loaded with geospatial math functions designed to create, stylize and generate amazing urban visuals using real-time and economically meaningful information. Combined, this forms the perfect platform for finding anything in the city and especially for understanding real estate markets.

The video below shows a randomized grid-style visual with cube icons at every cross point. It's an example of how different styles of markers can interact with each other at varied distances.

The next video shows how Verticode can highlight and reveal floor information.

Below are two skyline images revealing the Verticode index with cube-shaped icons, one on every floor, forming columns. This is a precise building information tool with many applications. Buildings that are under-construction and pre-leasing are shown with transparent blue coordinates rings.
Lower Manhattan's World Financial Center
The Chicago Loop Skyline, Verticode Markers Revealed
Looking up.
Famous Chicago Skyscrapers, Verticode Markers Revealed

To learn how to access Verticode with our API, contact us at

15 January 2013

Google Earth Without Us

Post-apocalyptic visualizations of Manhattan are easy with the Cube Cities platform. In the spirit of Alan Weisman's The World Without Us, the Verticode platform can age buildings many years into the future to demonstrate how urban areas would deteriorate without regular facility maintenance.  Verticode can even take into account the deterioration rate of different building materials (because we know the surface area of the entire urban fabric.) To explore our great metropolises aged into a humanless tomorrow, please contact us today. Act quickly, eventually everything goes away.

View of Central Park South, New York City

Empire State Building and Midtown Manhattan

Midtown Manhattan

9 January 2013

Using Verticode to Showcase Google's Interior Street View Imagery

Google's Street View imagery is typically found outside and only on the ground floor. But now, Cube Cities enables Street View from any building floor with our Verticode geospatial matching platform. With Verticode, we can link any interior Street View panorama to any floor or specific window on a building. 1-click puts the user immediately on the roof or inside a room and allows them to navigate through hallways, boardrooms and elevators with the familiar, easy to use Street View interface.

The video below shows how a suburban Chicago office building uses Street View imagery to assist with marketing efforts. Understanding floor plans and interior layouts becomes much easier with this rich information source instantly available. It's simply an obvious way of communicating what's actually happening inside a property.

Street View imagery and floor plans for this video have been provided by Luna Tech 3D.

4 January 2013

Manhattan Sunset + Sunrise

Here's a jazzy sunset/sunrise video cycle of the Midtown skyline from a travelling vantage point above the East River, video below. The Cube Cities platform makes it easy to create an experience for night lighting effects for buildings in any city. The product is a visualization that makes Google Earth come alive at night.

Fullscreen, high resolution link here.

More videos of our night time lighting effects are available for Chicago, San Francisco and two more for New York.

1 January 2013

Visualizing Walk Score in 3D

Downtown Chicago Walk Score

Walk Score helps people determine the walkability of a location. Walk Score is a value between 0 and 100 that measures the walkability of many address locations around the world. Real estate websites regularly use Walk Score as a trusted metric for how friendly pedestrian access is to a property for sale or lease. The value is usually included as a line item on the listing sheet:

But how is that number meaningful in a comparative building context? The city heat maps produced by Walk Score cover a large area and are not very helpful at understanding how buildings in a local neighbourhood vary by walkability. Below are examples of two very walkable cities, Chicago and Toronto, as seen on the Walk Score website:

Toronto Walk Score, from
Chicago Walk Score, from
To better understand this data and to make it actionable for real estate decisions, we need a visualization at a building level. As seen below, with the help of the Walk Score API and the Cube Cities platform, we can explore Walk Score data at the building level and reveal the walkability secrets of a neighbourhood.

Downtown Toronto Walk Score

Downtown Calgary Walk Score

Downtown Boston Walk Score

This is another example of how Cube Cities can leverage its geospatial coordinate platform to visualize a common web service such as Walk Score. To see more visuals of Walk Score with Cube Cities for most any other city in the world please contact us.