Tuesday, December 1, 2020
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How Software Can Simplify City Planning for Engineers

City planning has come a long way since Giambattista Nolli, an Italian architect who was deeply interested in land surveying, created the first aerial view of Rome in its entirety without focusing on a single point. Nolli mapping was quickly adopted across Europe in the 16th century, and it became a standard of urban planning because it eventually developed the top-down management approach that is very useful when figuring out how cities should develop. Modern urban planning software still follows the top-down mapping and management strategies, but it also provides modern tools that evaluate all data collected and generated in the city planning experience.

The New Generation of City Planning Software

Urban planners started using software in the 20th century, but the professionals who participated in development projects often used their own applications. When video game development firm Maxis released SimCity for the Commodore 64 personal computer in 1989, city planners were amazed to see that the game had many elements of what they envisioned as the ideal software platform for planning and development; one particular aspect that they loved was that the user interface displayed relevant data from all city departments involved in development.

Building Information Modeling

It took a few decades for a real-life SimCity to come around. In 2002, CAD software developer Autodesk published a white paper about building information modeling, which eventually became a new standard for management of building projects. BIM software started integrating important aspects of geographic information systems (GIS), and this placed urban planning software closer to a SimCity experience.

The New and Smart Urban Planning Platforms

There is a clear need for city planning software that encourages collaboration between all project members. Engineers need to see the data that zoning lawyers produce, and the same can be said about architects and utilities managers. Digital twin software is a good example of where we are currently at with urban planning applications. The user interface of software such as SmartWorldPro uses full 3D modeling that can be generated with existing data or future projections; every building is represented and all data can be accessed in ways that allow immediate evaluation and analysis.

Simplifying City Planning for Engineers

The use of new urban planning software makes it easier for engineers to determine how their work will make the right impact. When engineers are trying to figure out where an electrical substation should be placed, for example, they can refer to the notes of the zoning department so that they can ascertain their legal standing. At the same time, they can see the planned surrounding building structures and determine if there are any risks when placing the substation.

In the end, modern urban planning software is a lot like what city planners thought about when they saw the first versions of SimCity released in the 1980s, and these software tools will likely continue to become more advanced.

Ana Hoffman
Anna Hoffman is a part-time blogger who blog about Business Technology, Digital Marketing, Real Estate, Digital Currencies, and Educational topics.

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