How simulation supports safe openings with COVID-19 still around

After more than 18 months, COVID-19 remains a major threat around the world. And yet, despite the ongoing hazard to public health, communities around the world are trying to get back to normal – or, at least, to establish a new normal. A vital step on the road to recovery is finding ways to safely re-open our schools, offices and other businesses. And taking that step is imperative now that another school year is upon us.

One takeaway from the past 18 months is that simulations in a virtual world are key to regaining some semblance of normalcy in the real one. When planning to open or reopen a school, arena or an office building, it’s prudent to consider using a simulation to evaluate virus dispersal and determine how design and layout can affect air circulation and transmission. If virtual twin experiences can help build a modular hospital in 14 days, the possibilities are virtually endless.

Throughout 2020, Dassault Systèmes played a role in projects that used the 3DEXPERIENCE platform’s capabilities to simulate air circulation and virus diffusion, visualize and analyze existing conditions and various “what-if” scenarios. The efforts helped several organizations, including a hospital in China, a concert hall in Paris and a cafeteria in Germany identify solutions to open and operate safely.

Here are some examples of customers and projects 3DS has supported in in efforts to simulate and understand COVID-19 transmission.

CSADI: 14 days to build a hospital in Wuhan Province

Early on in the pandemic, Dassault Systèmes worked with China’s Central-South Architectural Design Institute (CSADI) to support simulation and evaluation of virus dispersal of Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China, a modular hospital for infectious diseases and COVID-19 patients that was built in just 14 days following the COVID-19 breakout.

CSADI and Dassault Systèmes used the 3DEXPERIENCE platform’s simulation capabilities to simulate virus contamination and diffusion within the hospital’s ventilation system, indoor and outdoor fluids, and other projects. With SIMULIA XFlow, they were able to simulate indoor air distribution schema and optimize suggestions for better contamination discharge to protect medical personnel at the hospital.

Philharmonie de Paris: reopening the city’s largest concert hall

As things started to look up in late 2020, Dassault Systèmes helped the Philharmonie de Paris prepare to reopen its largest concert hall when COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns ended.

The 2,400-seat Grande sale Pierre Boulez features an enveloping configuration that immerses the audience in the music and a unique ventilation system in each seat that quietly introduces fresh air and regulates direction and speed. The Philharmonie assigned simulation work to Dassault Systèmes. We created a 3D model of the hall at full capacity and visualized airflow to assess the impacts of mask-wearing and airflow on virus particle propagation. Running multiple scenarios, the 3DS team was able to understand the spread particles from audience members with and without masks, as well as the impact of seat ventilation.

Thanks to the technology, the Philharmonie de Paris felt confident it would be able to reopen safely after the COVID-19 lockdowns ended using mask-wearing and other appropriate social distancing measures.

GEA: keeping COVID-19 off the menu

In fall 2020, after being closed for several months GEA, one of the world’s largest technology suppliers for food processing, needed to put together a comprehensive risk assessment for the re-opening of its employee cafeteria in Oelde, Germany, to serve up to 1,900 employees. GEA contracted Dassault Systèmes to simulate the airflow from the ventilation system and the transport of potentially contaminated droplets using SIMULIA PowerFLOW. A full virtual twin of the cafeteria and performed simulations helped to understand virus propagation through airflows, including the heating and ventilation system, identify potential hot spots, and determine appropriate countermeasures.


Watch the video below for more on how simulation ensures safer medical, life and workplaces in the time of COVID-19.

Patrick Ball

Patrick Ball

Patrick is a Senior Communications Manager on the Corporate Publishing team here at Dassault Systèmes. An experienced journalist, marketer, speechwriter and storyteller, Patrick's words have appeared on pages and stages around the world.