If a picture is worth a thousand words, how incalculable must be the value of a three-dimensional portrait of an entire city, projected 20 years into the future and visually representing key quality of life indicators?
Want to imagine life in your city’s future based on evolutions in commuter traffic patterns, water consumption and the use of urban green zones? Take a close look at the computer-generated, multicolored polygonal shapes provided by an innovative 3D digital platform created by a team of French companies.
Its purpose? Help officials and city planners improve how they make – and communicate – urban decisions. The 3D Sustainable City Simulator is a geographic information system constructed with mountains of never-before-collated municipal public and private data that can be used to compare the effects of technology and planning choices on key indicators. Beyond its capacity to model and visualize tomorrow’s cities, the true innovation may be its potential to change how decisions are made that shape the lives of those who live in them.
“Global cities now have both a method and an optimized offer to become frugal, efficient and pleasant.” Laurent Vigneau, Director of the Regional Development and Mobility Department Artelia
The simulator was unveiled this spring before a diverse assembly of municipal, regional and national officials in Santiago, Chile, where its development has been piloted. The demonstration portrayed the impacts and benefits of different approaches for an actual project proposed by the city: a proposal that would construct a surface across the Pan American highway, which cuts a channel through and divides the historical city center.
The 3D tool enables choices to be viewed in terms of their effect on 11 key indicators. Under the indicator “urban density,” for example, population placement and construction are represented through map displays that show the current situation as well as how each would change if various technical solutions were implemented. The impacts of installing light rail or bike sharing on Santiago’s mobility or of instituting a waste or water recycling system compare the city’s performance before and after adoption of each option. Also available: benchmarking performance against other comparably sized cities.
“The simulator presents the most innovative urban solutions in terms of infrastructure and equipment services, as well as their benefits for improving how a city runs and operates and, more generally, its living environment. It’s also a real showcase for the French sustainable city offering, gleaned from companies throughout the project, based on a call for solutions made on the Internet.” Éric Lesueur Partners CEO, 2EI@Veolia
The practical benefits of the interactive planning tool are multi-fold. Santiago’s city officials and planners are now able to clearly chart how different combinations of choices would affect the urban landscape. How would increased greenery in the city center affect water supplies?
What would urban consolidation mean for traffic patterns and building energy consumption? What is the optimum strategy to renew the center city’s urban fabric, increase real estate values and even combat social inequality?
Santiago’s leaders have their sights set even higher, seeing in the platform a means to revolutionize dialogue with the metropolitan area’s seven million citizens. As part of an overall campaign to increase public engagement and consultation, citizens will be able to access the simulator on the city’s website, enabling them to see for 3D information derived from their city’s diagnosis. By bringing together all of the information on potential projects in a universally accessible and understandable format, the 3D simulator contributes to transparency and greater public understanding.
“Santigao Des3aDo is an all-in-one tool combining an overall vision of objectives and targeted geographic or themed actions.” Antonio Frausto architect/town planner Arte Charpentier
“The city of Santiago has chosen to apply the simulator to the project to cover the urban highway that cuts the city in two and creates a social and economic divide.” Mariano Efron architect AS.Architecture-Studio
“Santiago Des3aDo is a real technological feat. We produced millions of 3D data files, then we combined this information for all those involved in the project. We viewed it in real time to showcase a French sustainable city solution.” Laurent Bouillot Chairman and CEO of Siradel