Towards a Multifunctional Virtual City Model

Towards a Multifunctional Virtual City Model

Margaret Horne (University of Northumbria, UK), Emine Mine Thompson (University of Northumbria, UK) and James Charlton (University of Northumbria, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4349-9.ch008
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Abstract

This chapter examines the challenge of creating and sustaining a virtual city model and illustrates how the success of such efforts may depend on strategic collaborations between multiple organizations. It argues that a city model which is aligned to the development of the real city, to visually and analytically assess urban planning proposals, is more likely to be regularly used, continually updated, authoritative and sustainable in the longer term. A case study is described of Virtual NewcastleGateshead (VNG), a collaboration between a university (Northumbria University) and two neighbouring local authorities (Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council) in the north east of England, UK, with the aim of developing a financially sustainable three-dimensional (3D) computer model for the purposes of urban planning, education and research. The chapter also summarises associated research which investigates the issues in extending the visualization capabilities of a virtual city model by exploring data interoperability issues related to 3D simulations of the performance aspects of urban spaces, including pedestrian movement, noise mapping, wind modelling and thermal comfort. It proposes that the integration of such simulations into virtual city modeling offers much scope for continued use of city models and future research. Conclusions on this collaborative, integrated approach to sustainable city modeling are included.
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Background

City models worldwide are offering examples of what is now possible to achieve with today’s technology, but the choice of options available, in terms of computer platforms, data capture, service providers etc. can be daunting to those starting out in this field. Indeed, several cities around the world have now more than one city model, supporting the argument (Bourdakis, 2008) that not one single type of 3D digital model can be suitable for the wide range of applications demanded from them. Even in cities without a city model to date, many parts of the city will have been modeled to support new projects or development proposals, resulting in a jig-saw of 3D models using incompatible computer platforms and diverse scales (Horne, 2009). This can be one of the main economic drivers for the creation of one definitive, regularly updated, multi-functional city model, aimed to be used by multiple stakeholders and sustained over time. Urban planning departments in particular are realizing that many benefits and efficiencies can be gained in using 3D city models to assess the visual impact of proposed developments on surrounding areas. Such models, if used within the development planning process, can also extend participation opportunities for members of the public (Coors & Ewald, 2005; Hudson-Smith, Evans, & Batty, 2005). Hence the concept of multiple 3D city models existing for a single real life city, each with separate desired applications, has been challenged by the possibility of creating one single city model to reduce the risk of incompatibility between different models and to simplify management and update requirements.

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