AR/VR modelling and 3D visualisation

Nottingham City Council 3d city model

ESRI have supported Nottingham City Council in developing a 3D city model to help accelerate the planning process.

‘Nottingham City Council has created an immersive, interactive and highly-detailed 3D model of the entire city to support development planning. This advanced digital twin enables planners to understand proposed new developments more easily, have more interactive discussions with developers and accelerate the planning process.

The 3D visualisation digital twin of the city has been created using ArcGIS Online and hosted in the relevant online Cloud.

Nottingham City Council have been pioneering in 3D urban planning for a number of years and have realised the benefits. Approaches to this have developed in recent years. The Council have received £375,000 Government grant to develop 3D technology to modernise the planning application process.

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LiDAR Scanning

GeoSLAM use of LiDAR in urban planning

LiDAR is a remote sensing method. LiDAR technology uses the light from a laser to collect measurements. These measurements can then be used to create 3D models and maps of larger scale places and individual developments.

A 3D Geospatial data company, GeoSLAM, have recently published an article on how efficiency in urban planning could be boosted with mobile LiDAR. GeoSLAM provide some international case studies of where work has been undertaken in this field. They have also outlined how LiDAR could be used in Urban Planning:

‘The accuracy and versatility of LiDAR means it has an important role in urban planning by providing more information to city developers. This, in turn, can influence a range of factors within urban environments which include:

Road planning and traffic control – LiDAR scanners create accurate 3D digital replicas of roads and intersections which help to monitor traffic analytics. This actionable data is useful for examining near misses between vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists to increase safety measures on roads.

Environmental monitoring – Using LiDAR sensors, city planners can track air quality which allows for the identification of highly polluted parts of a town or city. The lasers emitted by the LiDAR device illuminate certain particles in the atmosphere and analyse the light reflected back to the sensor, known as backscatter. This then determines the quantity of pollutants in the air.

Emergency planning and disaster management – LiDAR helps communities prepare and mitigate in case of emergencies. An example would include creating accurate floorplans of a building to highlight entrances, exits, or passageways to aid both the public and rescue teams during or after a disaster.

Construction – Access to LiDAR is important for construction teams as it gives them the ability to produce 3D point clouds of buildings and spaces. This is valuable in urban planning as it allows for the creation of BIM (Building Information Modelling) or CAD (Computer Aided Design) for carrying out renovations or redesigns.

Safety measure implementation – Law enforcement uses LiDAR scanners to increase safety measures within urban environments for a variety of reasons, such as recreating crime scenes or monitoring crowds at large public events to alert them to security threats and emergencies.’

Building Information Modelling (BIM) – implications for planning

London Olympic Park

There has been some work undertaken nationally and internationally using BIM as a digital visualisation tool in urban planning. A recent article by Studio Nest 17, an international company specilising in BIM, looked at case studies where BIM has been used in urban planning and how a greater use of this technology could transform urban planning.

‘Building Information Modeling (BIM) is an intelligent 3D modeling process that enables the planning, design, construction, and management of buildings or infrastructure. It is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a project, including design specifications, construction details, and data on materials, equipment, and maintenance. BIM allows stakeholders to plan and manage projects more effectively, improving communication and reducing errors, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.’ 18

The introduction of BIM technologies would require investment in new software, hardware and staff training. A UK example of where BIM has been used in Urban Planning is the London Olympic Park.

The technology was used to visualise the transformation of the Olympic Stadium into a multipurpose venue.

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