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How software cities will change our lives

01 March 2018

Designing new cities with the demand of a modern-day society can be difficult. Oasys, crowd simulation developers, explores further.

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Oasys look at how software has been used in the planning process of city spaces. 
Software for pedestrian management

Crowd and pedestrian management software is commonly used in the architectural process of urban planning. It 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. 

There are many ways that this type of software can be used. 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. 

It can also help prepare locations with appropriate emergency procedures — such as a route of exit. This is why it is often used when constructing transportation centres. With the rise of terror incidents across Europe, the use of crowd simulation and preparing for unlikely situations is more important than ever. 

Managing geographical data

To help the end user, geographical information system (GIS) can help manage geographical data and manipulate it to different situations.

Multilayer mapping is one advantage that GIS offers. 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. 

It’s also a good tool to remind other people on the construction project whether a permit has been given across different locations — this can help reduce any problems that could be incurred. The success of potential businesses can be analysed too by measuring their proximity to potential competitors and customers. 

The introduction of building information modelling (BIM) 

The benefit of using BIM allows for visualisations to be created of a proposed project before it goes ahead in construction. This technology is becoming more important in the design of ‘smart cities’, to test out the impact of the building before construction goes ahead. 

If project managers find themselves building within an area that is already established, they could face some problems. However, 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. 

Through the use of BIM, departments across the project are able to come together and collaborate. For example, workers on drainage construction and landscaping can consult the same model to help better inform their decisions.

“Some of the drilling that we did for this project was within centimetres of the existing underground tunnels in London. It was absolutely incredible” commented Tony Andrews, Solutions Executive of Asset Management at Bentley systems — discussing the use of BIM in a Crossrail project he worked on. 

Looking forward

Within the urban planning sector, there are plenty of new opportunities arising with the evolution of technology and software types. One of these, 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. 

It can allow you to find out how cities are being used, when and who by — technology that is a game changer in the world of architecture. At the moment, the data is collected from Flickr and Twitter uploads, and this is planned to expand to other social networks.

This technology can be looked at in real time, and see which parts of the city is busy — an excellent resource for urban planners. 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. 


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