Planning a Better Tomorrow with 3D City Models

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Planning a Better Tomorrow with 3D City Models

3D city modeling is an emerging trend within the urban AEC community due to the adoption of digital and 3D platforms. A 3D city model is a virtual representation of the physical environment of an urban area, including buildings, terrain, landmarks, infrastructure landscapes, and vegetation. A real-world, three-dimensional visualization of the city is created by integrating geospatial data. Urban planning can be positively influenced by 3D city models, which provide environmental analysis through a variety of application-based uses, and facilitate public participation in the process. For more information, visit

3D city models offer the following five advantages:

1. Improve traffic management and disaster preparedness

Transport and utility networks can also be vastly improved using 3D city models. Using these models, emergency response routes can be mapped out more effectively, and spatial analyses can optimize delivery routes to customers as well. Moreover, these 3D models can simulate the effects of a natural disaster accurately, which is helpful for disaster management. There are many types of simulations, such as fires, floods, and explosions caused by bombs. Using them, planners can better plan rescue operations and mobilize resources for these disasters based on accurate effects on urban infrastructure. The assessment and mapping of surface watersheds and floodplains can be accomplished using technology such as AutoCAD Civil 3D. 

2. Temperature optimization in buildings

3D city models can also be used for estimating insolation, which is crucial to determining energy efficiency and comfort in buildings; observing such data helps identify buildings that have excessive sunlight exposure and are prone to overheating in hot weather. It has been found that insolation data can also assist in developing house price models: “under the assumption that solar radiation is capitalized in a property’s price, information about insolation can be used as a factor for estimating property prices”.

3. Decrease pollution

 Noise and traffic pollution are also estimated using 3D city models. Because sound spreads through the air in all directions, a 3D model is effective at measuring noise. A 2D model cannot analyze noise based on distance and elevation, since noise varies by distance and elevation. As well, the model analyzes traffic pollutant distribution based on volumes of different pollution density levels generated by 3D zoning of voxel data. Despite these being some of the more prominent applications of 3D city models, there are plenty more being developed and tested, potentially providing an endless number of benefits.

4. Involve the community

Using 3D city modeling for democratic purposes and public participation is another advantage. Public involvement in the design of urban development is widely recognized as important. It is possible to access 3D city models via the internet, which empowers local governments to communicate their urban design plans effectively. Residents can keep track of proposed developments and gauge a better understanding of the visual representation. The public can also provide feedback on design ideas to local governing bodies, thereby optimizing urban development to meet citizens’ needs and lifestyles.

5. Local governments benefit

Local governments can benefit from 3D city models in a variety of ways. Urban planners are able to analyze proposed developments more effectively and efficiently with their detailed visualizations. Maps of urban environments and their application range have a tremendous impact on city environments. It is possible to enrich cities by allowing residents to influence individual decisions regarding urban design in order to create more livable and desirable communities. 3D city models will undoubtedly be used and applied by local governments to improve their cities going forward as more research is conducted.

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