Modelling and visualizing sustainability assessment in urban environments

John P. Isaacs, Ruth E. Falconer, Daniel J. Gilmour, David J. Blackwood

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    Major urban development projects extend over prolonged timescales (up to 25 years in the case of major regeneration projects), involve a large number of stakeholders, and necessitate complex decision making. Comprehensive assessment of critical information will involve a number of domains, such as social, economic and environmental, and input from a wide a range of stakeholders. This makes rigorous and holistic decision making, with respect to sustainability, exceptionally difficult without access to appropriate decision support tools. Assessing and communicating the key aspects of sustainability and often conflicting information remains a major hurdle to be overcome if sustainable development is to be achieved. We investigate the use of an integrated simulation and visualization engine and will test if it is effective in: 1) presenting a physical representation of the urban environment, 2) modelling sustainability of the urban development using a subset of indicators, here the modelling and the visualization need to be integrated seamlessly in order to achieve real time updates of the sustainability models in the 3D urban representation, 3) conveying the sustainability information to a range of stakeholders making the assessment of sustainability more accessible. In this paper we explore the first two objectives. The prototype interactive simulation and visualization platform (S-City VT) integrates and communicates complex multivariate information to diverse stakeholder groups. This platform uses the latest 3D graphical rendering techniques to generate a realistic urban development and novel visualization techniques to present sustainability data that emerge from the underlying computational model. The underlying computational model consists of two parts: traditional multicriteria evaluation methods and indicator models that represent the temporal changes of indicators. These models are informed from collected data and/or existing literature. The platform is interactive and allows real time movements of buildings and/or material properties and the sustainability assessment is updated immediately. This allows relative comparisons of contrasting planning and urban layouts. Preliminary usability results show that the tool provides a realistic representation of a real development and is effective at conveying the sustainability assessment information to a range of stakeholders. S-City VT is a novel tool for calculating and communicating sustainability assessment. It therefore begins to open up the decision making process to more stakeholders, reducing the reliance on expert decision makers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 26th Annual ARCOM Conference, 6-8 September 2010, Leeds, UK
    EditorsC. O. Egbu, E. C. W Lou
    Place of PublicationLeeds
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2010
    Event26th Annual ARCOM conference - Leeds, United Kingdom
    Duration: 6 Sept 20108 Sept 2010
    Conference number: 26th


    Conference26th Annual ARCOM conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • Visualisation
    • Modelling
    • Sustainability
    • Visualization


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