29 October 2013

Esri’s CityEngine technology to further sustainable urban development

At the Esri Asia Pacific User Conference in Singapore next month, Eric Wittner, one of Esri’s lead software engineers, will advise hundreds of IT professionals on how they can use cutting-edge 3D technology to overcome the city’s urban development challenges.

The technology, called CityEngine, draws on Geographic Information System (GIS) and 3D software to allow urban planners to envisage how cities will look in the future. According to Mr Wittner the technology is revolutionising the way cities are being planned.

CityEngine enables urban planners to design, build and develop with increased precision and understanding. Planners can use the technology to generate digital cities that actually exist, or will be developed – essentially allowing them to visualise the future. Through CityEngine, 2D town planning data is turned into interactive 3D city models that can help solve urban problems and increase the sustainability of cities.

Major Cities in China, the U.S and Europe are already using CityEngine with its range of advanced features, to transform their cities sustainably. For instance, the technology has been used to assess heat island effects of future urban developments, and also visualise their impact on the existing skyline from various vantage points. Singapore in particular is using this technology to strengthen their sustainable development initiatives.

Esri state that a key advantage of the technology is that it gives urban designers the ability to construct ‘what-if’ scenarios. This is particularly useful in an era where population rates are booming and planners are therefore being urged to increase the density of cities as well as incorporate more mass transit systems. Smart 3D solutions such as CityEngine can produce a ‘real life’ depiction of how a city would look before and after urban developments, such as light rail infrastructure or higher residential buildings. The technology can also show the impacts of these developments on a range of areas including carbon footprints and water usage.

Numerous scenarios can be modelled to see what would happen if certain development paths were taken or not taken – which helps to refine decision-making and choose the most successful path forward. Community and stakeholder engagement is also improved through CityEngine as the results can be shown before development occurs, to determine response and feedback.

Singapore was deemed the ideal location for Mr Wittner to reveal all the benefits of the new technology platform, as the city faces unique challenges in its urban design. Due to its small size, urban planning is crucial for economic growth and the sustainable development of the country.

Mr Wittner says “The new generation of 3D GIS technology means, for the first time, we can do more than just speculate on the alternate future of Singapore – we can now accurately depict, visualise, and assess its outlook to find the best possible design.”

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