City Planning goes 3D

There is a good reason why more cities around the globe are implementing new 3D technologies when planning and designing urban areas. The 3D urban modelling makes it easier for planners to detect what their decision would mean in real life. There are many great advantages 3D technologies bring. For example, 3D makes it easier to measure land usage, population, and house densities; and how the size of the buildings fit into their surroundings.  In addition, business managers can evaluate further development costs and make feasibility studies.

In practise, 3D enables us to foresee sunlight exposure, view corridors, check the zoning regulations, discover great spots for solar panels and traffic gravity. It is possible to implement different sources of static and real-time city data into one 3D city model. One can for example monitor traffic conditions and weather information in real-time. Even the composition and the material used in buildings can be added to a 3D city model.

The Advantages of 3D Urban Modelling

As the world’s population is estimated to increase by over 2 billion between now and 2050, new 3D technologies are needed to build cities for the increasing population. During the next 30 years it has been estimated that 68% of the entire human population will live in urban areas. This means that even more investments are needed in civil infrastructure to keep up with global demand.

Currently, one can define the use of 3D city planning into six main categories. These categories are asset management, environmental control, building control, citizen engagement, geospatial data management and land administration.  3D technology has made it easier to comprehend the entire city in a more cost-effective and visually friendly way.

The technology makes it easier to detect how, for example, a skyscraper would impact the surrounding area. 3D enables designers to foresee how the new structure would impact sunlight around it or what kind of impact it would have to the wind conditions.  It would also allow to detect not only best spots for solar panels, but it would enable to calculate how much energy could be produced. An accurate 3D city model has multiple uses. It is a key to smarter cities.

Involving Citizens in City Planning

City planners have been struggling to involve citizens in city planning more actively. What makes 3D city planning unique is the visual aspect. It is easier to get more people involved in the planning when they can see how the new plan will look in real life and how it will affect their living environment. Even a person with no prior experience with floor plans or city planning can understand what the plan is when it is visually presented in 3D. The public concerns and needs should always be part of the government’s decision-making process. 3D makes that possible.

Citizens can also use the 3D urban model for other purposes depending on how the model has been developed. For example, a 3D urban model could also be used to monitor energy consumption by homeowners. Another use could be to track down their lost pets through the model. Caregivers could quickly locate patients in need for assistance and help.  

One could also use the model to plan more cyclist friendly routes or map out more barrier-free routes for the disabled and elderly.  3D can give real-time data on traffic or information on air quality of certain areas. 3D technologies make it easier to plan daily activities.

What it takes to keep up a 3D City Model

There are many advantages of using 3D urban modelling. However, there are some problems as well. The biggest concern raised by the public is privacy. Privacy concerns are valid as the 3D urban model can include a plethora of data and it can be accessed by many. These are issues that all cities must deal with. Providers must ensure that individual’s information cannot be accessed without valid reason or by outsiders.

Keeping the 3D city model up to date is also a challenge for cities and municipalities. One solution is to outsource the task. Cities turn to service providers for surveying and data processing. Outsourcing is the key to keep 3D models current and updated.

An ever growing number of cities and municipalities have recognized the importance of 3D urban models. The public sector is constantly looking for new ways to gather information that can serve the citizens. The aim is to ensure their well-being in the city – also in the future.

3D technology is evolving constantly and so are also the needs of a growing city. More data gathering and updating will be needed. In 30 years 68% of the entire human population is expected to live in urban areas. The buildings for these megacities are being build today. Intelligent 3D city planning is a must.

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