GeoSmart 3D City
Today there is a convergence of new and emerging technologies that together are empowering the ‘Smart City’ concept that promises to transform the form and functioning of cities. The growing number of ‘Smart’ systems such as intelligent utilities, intelligent transport, smart buildings, self-driving automobiles, location-based services, augmented reality and others are all incorporating emerging technologies and concepts of internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data analytics, blockchain transactions and others. Beyond the domain-specific applications as stand-alone systems, the integration of these within a Smart City Digital Twin notion promises to create the synergy towards a disruptive and entirely new paradigm for city planning, management and operations. What these all have in common is the dimension of “place” and there is a growing recognition that geospatial modelling and tools will provide the foundation and pace-based ‘operating system’ for the truly Smart City.
The modelling of the City in three dimensions (3D) is at the core of this Smart City operating system. When correctly modelled, the 3D City model can be used to link together and create an interoperable framework within which individual domain systems can share information and inter-operate, thus leveraging the geospatial dimension of information, the spatial relationships within systems and the geospatial tools, to create what we call a “GeoSmart 3D City”.
What are the key features of GeoSmart 3D City, who is involved and who orchestrates?
Municipal government is most often responsible for facilitating and coordinating among the broad number of stakeholders that are involved in the planning, design, development and management of cities. This includes the development of the base geospatial fabric of building, streets, infrastructure, and parcels that others, like utilities, developers and businesses use as a base reference. Municipal government, or the equivalent local government form therefore is the most likely to become the orchestrator of a GeoSmart 3D City program.
3D City Model: An effective 3D City model is able to establish a Digital Twin of all the critical elements and systems present in the real world in a digital form that can simulate the behaviours of those systems and their interactions. For example, when modelling buildings it is important to define and name all the needed ‘parts’ of the building that need to be modelled such as building footprint, external shell, floors, spaces within floors, and connective elements such as stairs and lifts. Although there is not yet one standard model covering all the future applications that have been conceived for Smart City, there is a rapid convergence of several constructs such as CityGML, Building Information Model (BIM), Internet of Things (IoT) and smart infrastructure systems that are laying the groundwork for an integrated approach. Even if those systems are in the early stages in a given municipality, the development of an initial 3D City model that considers this larger perspective can ensure that the city is ‘GeoSmart 3D-Ready’ in a manner that can help to accelerate the next generation of innovation and transformation in the immediate future.
Shared Information Infrastructure: Interoperability requires that the individual underlying systems can share information in a near real-time manner. This requires not only digital connectivity but also a common data clearinghouse based on a body of accepted standards, interchange protocols and agreements to be in place to ensure that data can flow freely across multiple organizations and systems, while maintaining the security of those systems and databases. The common data clearinghouse can provide a hub through which local and distributed data can be discovered, evaluated and shared by the user community. Data owners need to commit to providing their data with the content and in the form and timeliness of updates agreed with the community.
Coordinated Governance Framework: Establishing a GeoSmart 3D City initiative and ensuring that it is used effectively and that it remains viable over time requires establishing the supporting institutional and governance frameworks needed to provide this guidance and authority. New methods for data sharing and inter-operating may require updated policies, inter-institutional agreements and revised business processes.
Traditionally local government had taken responsibility for coordinating among the many urban stakeholders involved in urban development, typically through land use planning and zoning, capital infrastructure planning, municipal permissions for various types of field works, and other processes. Other stakeholders are responsible for planning, building and managing their own activities and systems, but many of these need to be coordinated with others through the municipality or other local government entity.
More progressive municipalities are already undertaking the path to Smart City, and nearly all of these are using GIS as foundation for the application of ‘design thinking’ principles across all sectors for sustainable physical, economic and social development and ultimately happier, healthier, and more effectively managed cities.
What are the governing data management processes?
There are various processes that govern the 3D city data management on both the supply side and the demand side.
From the data supply side, if there is not already an existing foundation of land base data, much of the information to get started can be captured using high resolution satellite imagery, aerial photos, drone-collected imagery, vehicle or aircraft-mounted LiDAR, field surveys, and other techniques. It is important to ensure that the information collected has the content and accuracy to support the broadest range of stakeholder applications. Once a common, standardized land-base has been captured, or if one is already existing, the focus can shift to transactional processes such as building permits, property transactions, capital infrastructure projects and others that are recording changes on the ground as part of normal day-to-day business activities. In both cases, data quality assurance and control measures are key for streamlining timely and reliable information flow supporting the business activities of all the key stakeholders.
On the data demand side, it is critical that all relevant stakeholder systems and business processes are aligned and connected to the common data clearinghouse. It is also important that there is active coordination and facilitation by a central body such as the Municipality to ensure that the information infrastructure continues to operate reliably and evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of the stakeholder community.
What are beneficiary applications?
Beneficiary applications comprise, but are not limited to, the following:
- Executive decision support;
- Safety & security/ emergency management;
- Urban planning and zoning;
- Sustainable development management;
- Building permit management;
- Capital investment planning and project coordination;
- Land and property management;
- Asset management;
- Energy management;
- Navigation and wayfinding.