September 29, 2008

IT Case for Effective Town Planning

By Rozana Sani

ARCHITECTS, engineers, construction firms, and owners and operators of buildings and infrastructure in the local scene would do well to look at new design software technologies such as model- driven design, geospatial enabling, and three-dimensional (3-D) simulation, as an integral part of town planning and management.

According to Zeiss, the integration of model-driven design, building information modelling (BIM), 3-D visualisation, computer- aided design (CAD), geospatially-enabled relational database management systems (RDBMS), and other geospatial technology has important implications for emergency planning and response and urban planning.

Zeiss, who has some 30 years experience in geospatial IT, said the integration of 3-D, BIM and geographic information systems (GIS) bridges communications gap - allowing the involved parties to design, manage, publish and integrate spatial data more efficiently.

"Traditionally, there has been little direct interaction between the engineering design team and the GIS records and mapping teams. Now with technology, the design software world is the convergence of architectural design, engineering, land development, civil engineering, construction, and geospatial disciplines," he said.

Innovative approach to building design

Elaborating on each technology, Zeiss explained that BIM is an innovative new approach to building design, construction, and management that is changing the way industry professionals worldwide think and operate.

"It enables the simulation of a building during the design phase rather than at construction stage. This model enables businesses and property owners to make cost estimates and construction decisions, enhance performance predictions, ensure high-quality construction documents, and ease facility management and operation."

3-D visualisation, combined with location and model-based design, allows a building to be experienced before it is even built.

"You can simulate what the building looks like at different times of the day, what interior spaces look like under different lighting conditions, or even simulate where sunlight will hit the building at different times of the year," he said, adding that this would be important in getting certification like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) - a Green Building Rating System that is recognised in over 60 countries.

Geospatially-enabled world

On geospatial technologies, Zeiss highlighted that the use of technologies like Web search engine such as Google or Yahoo have moved GIS into a broader context.

"We're moving from a world, in which GIS was separated from broader IT, to a geospatially-enabled world where location is being integrated with many other technologies. For example, everyone using a Web search engine such as Google or Yahoo will encounter a map," he said.

Zeiss added that all major RDBMS, both closed and open source, incorporate location these days. All major CAD products support location.

"The number kicked around the industry for years is that 80 per cent of IT would benefit from location. At this point, some people might argue that it is even greater than that," he said.

For example, in Kuala Lumpur, Zeiss said the technologies would be very useful for 3-D zoning, or 3-D cadastral.

"Used primarily in geospatial, this would enable perimeters to be drawn precisely. For example, the simulation allows people to view their piece of property even if it is in a high rise building. Property buyers can even simulate the view from the property if it were to be blocked by another building or how much view can be seen from their property. These are some examples that show how geospatial data can be used by you and me and the people on the street," he illustrated.

Traditionally, geospatial data is widely used by municipalities, utilities and government agencies.

"Now, it just makes it easier for these agencies to utilise the data. In addition, sharing of data between department agencies is easier, and with data conversion from paper to digital, workflow can be integrated seamlessly," Zeiss said.

Reaping the benefits

Overall, the convergence of technologies also means that during the post-construction phase of a facility, the ability to integrate data from different applications and disciplines provides important benefits for maintenance staff and emergency responders. They will be able to have immediate and seamless access to infrastructure data inside, outside, and underneath urban structures to enable them to deal rapidly and effectively with emergency situations, Zeiss said.

"The integration of these technologies will enable the creation of smart cities or 3-D city models. Through these technologies, it allows citizen participation and enables adoption of sustainability. In addition, it also allows organisation to make sense of geospatial data and leverage the precision to be applied across the entire infrastructure and facility lifecycle, including maintenance and operations."

Zeiss said the integration of data can visually render the information decision-makers need when they require it to make quicker, more informed decisions.

"Organisations can make huge productivity gains and see cost savings by addressing redundancy, inaccuracies, data mismatches, current issues and versioning problems that result from siloed information."

(c) 2008 New Straits Times. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.