3D and 4D virtual cities – some providers


Above is a picture of the 3D virtual city model of Hjorthagen, located in the new flagship brownfield development project the “Stockholm Royal Seaport” (Norra Djurgårdstaden). Courtesy of Agency 9.

There is a wealth of impressive 3D and 4D virtual cities on the market. 

The technology is evolving fast, allowing a wide range of uses and applications. Geospatial visualisation can come in 4D, allowing simulations and forecasts of all kinds, for example for urban investments, project management, population growth, and climatic impacts on the urban environment.

The focus is on interoperable web-based platforms that can integrate multiple forms of data.

The project delivered by Agency 9 for the city of Linköping, for example, enables a collaborative, cross-stakeholder management of planning or large development projects. Dynamic population growth data can also be used for planning forecasts. Dynamics can also be visualised per district, over a whole view of a council or municipality. This allows a clear, intuitive and comprehensive view of city planning and management, which can be made accessible to all interested, including decision-makers and citizens. See the link: Investment Planning in Linköping.

Agency 9 also produced the public engagement model MinStad used in the city of Göteborg.

Other providers also work with agent-based modelling (think pedestrian or traffic flows), such as Forum 8 and Urban Circus, allowing advanced simulations and a broad range of applications.

Forum 8 provides all manner of visualisations, including urban and traffic visualisations and applications for simulating emergency planning.

For both impressive renderings and convincing agent-modelling, do check Urban Circus’ application in Launceston.  

Likewise, CyberCity 3D provides impressive web-based visualisation solutions, including interactive models that can be used for public engagement. The platform they provide is compatible with output from ESRI CityEngine and ArcGIS, among many other tools. As with many other tools, the platform they provide can be applied to all areas of urban planning and integration of construction in the cityscape, from 3D renderings, transport, energy and real estate to flood and stormwater management.

Last but not least, Google Maps now comes in 3D in some parts of cities such as London, Barcelona, or even Valencia….

Together, these diverse and innovative platforms boost the usability of spatial analysis and visualisation tools, open new doors for enhanced stakeholder collaboration and communication. As the technology gets more impressive, let’s also try not get lost in the “wow” factor of impressive immersive virtual environments, although these platforms could also rightly be used for a fun exploration of virtual cities, including learning about one’s environment.

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