By John Hannen
When it comes to the design of urban spaces, technology plays a vital role, from building design software through to analysis technology. In this short article, we take a look at how city planning is reliant in software.
Using tech to stimulate people movement
When designing architectural structures and city spaces, software that can replicate people and crowds is often useful. This is capable of simulating thousands of people so that they can be imported into digital models of city spaces. The simulated agents can act intelligently according to set guidelines.
This technology can be manipulated in order to meet the needs of the designer. For architects designing a new building or arena that has the potential to host thousands of people, this technology can be used to simulate an evacuation. The crowd can be monitored to see what collisions they come across and how well they can achieve the goal of escaping the building.
When designing a building, it can be useful to use crowd and pedestrian management software to plan for emergency situations. With the rise of terror incidents across Europe, the use of crowd simulation and preparing for unlikely situations is more important than ever.
GIS (geographic information system) and its uses
GIS is able to gather data and create useful information for architects and urban planners.
One form of GIS is multilayer mapping. Similar to a density map, this feature allows the user to see a range of measures on one area. For example, potential agricultural land, areas which are prone to flooding and erodible land can all be visible on one map. This allows urban planners to visualise areas that would not be suitable for building on.
This is also useful for planners as it can bring them information of previous building permits in the proposed area. The success of potential businesses can be analysed too by measuring their proximity to potential competitors and customers.
What role does BIM (business information modelling) play?
Another useful piece of software for urban planners is BIM. This can simulate the impacts of proposed buildings on environments before they have been built. This technology is becoming more important in the design of ‘smart cities’, to test out the impact of the building before construction goes ahead.
As with many construction projects, when planners decide to build in one area, they need to consider potential problems. BIM can inform system managers of a wide range of factors. For example, the software could show how deep to dig in order to not crash into a fibre optic cable.
This type of software can connect different people who are working on the same task too. For example, workers on drainage construction and landscaping can consult the same model to help better inform their decisions.
Referring to the Crossrail project that used BIM, Tony Andrews, Solutions Executive of Asset Management at Bentley Systems said: “Some of the drilling that we did for this project was within centimeters of the existing underground tunnels in London. It was absolutely incredible”.
As we all know, software and technology are everchanging. One of the latest innovations, not used for urban planning yet, is an open-source software that has been developed in New York. It is currently a system that creates a map using data to visualise how people move through cities. Heat spots on the map become more intense when areas are popular.
This concept proposes that a piece of software will be able to tell users how and when a certain area is being used. At the moment, the data is collected from Flickr and Twitter uploads, and this is planned to expand to other social networks.
It’s a believable possibility that in the near future, urban planners will be able to access a platform that tells them which cities are busy at which times. It will also be possible to make comparisons between cities and replicate planning of structures if it has been successful in a city that runs in the same way.