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Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft develops 3D city planning tool

3 April 2012

3D map, Virtual Cityscape

Researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany have developed a new mapping tool, which will help city planners visualise information, including noise levels, fine particulate matter and traffic volumes by simulating a 3D cityscape.

The 3D map was developed by researchers under the Virtual Cityscape project, through the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO and the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP.

The map gathers data from existing sources, such as traditional survey maps, and presents it in a form that city planners can see from above and virtually move, with computer assistance, through a 3D view of the city.

Fraunhofer IAO department head Roland Blach said that for the simulations, researchers used standard programmes that are oriented around EU directives on noise pollution control.

"The main challenge was to come up with a user-friendly way of displaying different simulation results," Blach said.

The 3D model allows a representation of corresponding values from the simulation to "float" at the associated locations on the 3D map, displayed using red, yellow or green boxes.

The distance between two data points has been fixed at 5m, which can be modified according to the requirement. Users can choose how to display the 3D map by selecting a standpoint, zooming in to street level or selecting a bird's-eye perspective.

Parametric modelling of the tool is designed so that subsequent changes to dimensions can be made by entering the new measurements.

While planning a building, the tool can take into account different logistical flows, including the number of people that pass through halls and corridors, and incorporate it into planning.

If only standard windows are planned to be used in a building, requiring the architect to enlarge a space, then the programme automatically places the windows at the appropriate distances or even inserts more if space allows, the researchers said.

Image: Through the new mapping tool, invisible information like noise levels, fine particulate matter and traffic volumes can be displayed as green, yellow or red dots. Photo: courtesy of Fraunhofer IAO.