By: Ingeborg Rocker, PhD, Vice President of 3DEXPERIENCity | Geosphere and member of Dassault Systèmes’ Corporate Strategy Team. Rocker is responsible for developing a vision and strategy for modeling and simulating our planet with a particular focus on urban settlements.
Traditional models of urbanism are challenged today by the growing and increasingly diversified population in cities. Urban planners will find they need a new planning model that takes into consideration the needs of hyper-dense cities. They will need to re-think how we imagine, plan, design, analyze, simulate, realize and manage cities in order to better plan for the future. New urban planning tools also are needed to foster better communication among governments, business and citizens.
One solution with the potential to transform urban planning is the 3DEXPERIENCE city map. By creating a data-rich virtual model of the city in all its complexity, and linking it back to actual existing conditions in real-time, we can understand through simulations the potential effects of various systemic changes before implementing them.
Taking a Holistic Approach to City Planning
The key to this holistic digital map of the processes of life and work in the city is that it is continuously updated. Everyone who has access rights to the model—from city planners to business interests and even citizens—sees the most current data, creating a real-time shared point of reference. Through this data, we can understand the entire lifecycle of the city. You will know which lot is empty, which lot is occupied. You will know which segment of the population lives where. You will see how certain changes might decrease pollution or improve traffic flow. This model can capture everything we possibly could know about a city and gives all players access to this collaborative platform.
Most traditional smart city approaches have focused on technology to address urban challenges by collecting massive amounts of sensor data. But this rather technocratic approach—focused on projects narrow in scope and often siloed in individual agencies and research bodies—left cities and citizens alike with vast amounts of data related to very narrow fields of inquiry. A holistic view of the city’s system of systems, the interrelation between people and city, remained elusive.
What has been lacking in these smart city approaches is the intelligence necessary to capture the city and its processes as a whole and to capture and integrate this knowledge into a holistic, real-time virtual model of the city that dynamically updates. A holistic approach is a key aspect of Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCity, as is the dynamic data model, which enables real-time collaboration and communication.
Using Dynamic Models to Recreate Cities
Think of a city with many players working together: urban planners, urban designers, engineers, architects, landscape architects, developers and many more. Imagine building an extension of a city. One that does not consume more energy than it creates. One with a minimum carbon footprint. One that is hyper dense and yet offers great life-work experiences to all its inhabitants. Different collaborators involved in the planning process of this city interactively explore various design various, and run analytics and simulations to find a design solution with the maximum spatial quality and functional operability.
The dynamic data model keeps track of each version, checks continually for incongruences as different people optimize the city design, and gives warning if the design version does not comply with existing building codes. Once all parties agree on a design version, it will be finalized and its realization is developed, analyzed, simulated and optimized in the virtual model. Every step of the construction process can be explored virtually before it actually will take place in reality. Once the city extension is built, the dynamic model can serve to manage the city. Essentially, the entire lifecycle of a city can be captured this way.
It is here that a 3DEXPERIENCity dynamic data model becomes critical in coordinating the imagination, planning, design, analysis, simulation, realization and management of the city—involving city officials, businesses and citizens alike.
The Interactive New Model for Urban Planning
The 3DEXPERIENCity is the virtual double of the real existing city, capturing changes as they occur over time. The continuous feedback between the virtual dynamic city model and the real city ensures that both represent each other. It maps the entire city lifecycle, exceeding by far the smart city approach, which typically focuses on one topic at a time.
Dassault Systèmes is currently developing an advanced 3DEXPERIENCity project called Virtual Singapore. Singapore is no larger than 278 square miles, and consists of a main island and 62 islets. Land is scarce in this densely urbanized environment. Because Singapore is running out of space for expansion, lacks natural resources, and is facing both a tremendous population growth and change in demography (aging population and multicultural diversity), the country launched a Smart Nation program in late 2014.
Within the framework of this initiative, Dassault Systèmes and Singapore work closely together on Virtual Singapore. It’s an extensive effort to collect data of the city-state’s daily activities and to reflect them in a 3DEXPERIENCity that actively involves city agencies, businesses and citizens alike. Virtual Singapore is the virtual double of real Singapore in the sense that the project’s online platform gives insight into the country’s real-time functioning, and the government shares data with the private sector and the public. The program is designed to improve government services through technology, better connect its citizens, and encourage private-sector innovations.
The 3DEXPERIENCity for Singapore also enables the city to envision and plan future city extensions and densifications in a significant way. The centerpiece of Singapore’s effort is a dynamic data model that will store building’s exact dimensions, window placement, types of construction materials, etc. Virtual Singapore’s options for direct application and experiences seem unlimited.
With the city project, Dassault Systèmes leverages all of its diverse capabilities, including authoring, analytics and simulation capabilities. City planning based on a dynamic data model will be much more sophisticated than ever before.