3d modeling

Global cities innovate with 3D modeling

When smart cities need to make planning, infrastructure and service decisions, they are increasingly turning to 3D modeling to create virtual cityscapes to model scenarios and understand impacts. London, Helsinki, Boston and Singapore are among those leading the way.

3D city models provide realistic renderings of existing buildings (interior and exterior), transport infrastructure and green spaces as well as proposed projects. With 3D models, it is easier to see the impact of a new building, solar panel installation or bridge on an area. Once a plan is proposed and incorporated into the model, it becomes an effective tool for communicating with partners and the public. Beyond planning, these models are invaluable for situational awareness and emergency response.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology has been the primary means of developing these realistic models. Unlike physical models or two-dimensional drawings, governments can easily modify 3D cityscapes to reflect new buildings, new materials, and even changing landscapes.

In Boston, the Boston Planning & Development Agency uses its 3D model for flood modeling, line-of-sight assessments, and shadow studies that guide development near historic Boston Common.

With a law in Massachusetts limiting how long any building can cast shadows on Boston Common, the city needs detailed analysis of how the proposed development would affect the nation’s oldest park. Replacing its physical wooden model with a 3D digital model gave planners access to details they previously couldn’t see. They can clearly see how new zoning and development could lead to increased shadows on the park at various times of the year when the angle of the sun and daylight hours vary.

City leaders quickly realized how having detailed, up-to-date imagery of Boston’s buildings and assets has greatly benefited collaboration among stakeholders, including city staff and developers. . It also put data at the center of critical decision-making and negotiations. Now they want to extend the benefits to others. “We want to make the smart 3D model user-friendly and widely accessible to anyone,” said Corey Zehngebot, senior architect and urban designer at BPDA. “The sky is the limit in terms of what we might be able to use in the future.”

Collaboration between cities

The 3D modeling trend is gaining traction all over the world. In February 2019, the cities of London and Helsinki announced that they were working together in a “digital city-to-city declaration”, sharing best practices in 3D city modeling among other initiatives related to technology.

“This digital declaration establishes a formal framework for cooperation between Helsinki and London to develop our respective internal expertise and our links with the technology sector in order to use the city’s data to improve the lives of our citizens”, said the digital director. of London, Theo Blackwell. Helsinki’s Chief Digital Officer, Mikko Rusama, added: “Helsinki’s vision is to be the most functional city in the world that makes the best use of digitalization.

As the leaders of these two tech-savvy cities are well aware, the visual nature of the maps simplifies communication about challenges, existing situations and opportunities. 3D models offer smart cities an effective way to collaborate internally, with the public, and with other governments.

Create a digital twin

Further east, the global hub city of Singapore is also making significant investments in 3D city models for wide use internally and with citizens. Singapore has invested millions of dollars in its 3D model which will be used by government agencies and the general public. The Prime Minister’s Office, the National Research Foundation, the Singapore Land Authority and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore are all supporting the project. The 3D model will provide an effective way to test ideas, plan, and address local challenges associated with growth and other pressing issues.

The information contained in the Singapore model goes well beyond structural data. Singapore will include large amounts of terrain, demographic and climate data combined with real-time sensor data. Visualizing buildings, the natural environment and the movement of people will help the government determine where to invest in new infrastructure and deliver services efficiently. This will benefit everything from planning to disaster response.

Although these cities are investing millions in their efforts, creating 3D models is within reach for many cities now that the cost of image capture is falling with the widespread availability of drones and other forms of rapid image capture. images inside and outside buildings. 3D city models combined with comprehensive strategies on how to use them – as we see with London, Helsinki, Boston and Singapore – will help leaders advance smart growth plans and improve the quality of life of citizens.

Get more details on global innovation with BIM and the Geospatial Cloud at go.esri.com/geospatial

About the Author

Kathleen Kewley

Kathleen Kewley, MBA, is Director of Global Business Development AEC at Esri. Kathleen has over 20 years of professional experience leading global engineering, architecture, consulting and construction companies. It helps organizations realize the value of technology investments and achieve results that support organizational goals. Prior to joining Esri, Kathleen spent 10 years at Autodesk in key business development roles helping the AEC industry move into 3D geospatial modeling and Building Information Modeling. With a unique combination of industry and GIS skills, Kathleen now leads a team supporting the digital transformation of the AEC industry and leveraging GIS to unlock the business value of digital twins of natural and built environments.