Building upon a foundation of design principles and infrastructure disciplines, and tempered with the understanding of processes, Informed Infrastructure pursues visualization, modeling, spatial analysis, GIS, simulation and sensor technologies for holistic project management, planning and decision making. Our goal is to realize the principle of sustainability through the use of these aligned technologies and applications. Through geographic analysis, we can better connect residents to infrastructure for better outcomes, and through modeling and simulation tools we can create the best performing structures. Informed Infrastructure promotes the adoption of integrated spatially-based systems and knowledge for improved quality of life.
Informed Infrastructure covers the connection of planning and design tools to simulation and analysis for optimum infrastructure. While design in tune with nature is an ancient practice, what’s new is the ability to combine sensor inputs, simulation and modeling to tune infrastructure design, operation, and maintenance to changing real-world conditions.
Geospatial information and technology collectively support the design, operation, and management of infrastructure and enable better decision making. By understanding the geographic nature of infrastructure, spatial knowledge and tools can be used across many market segments.
Architecture and Building: Sustainable design principles are becoming much more prevalent in architecture and building. Multi-disciplinary teams may now be involved in the planning, construction and operation processes. Visualization is highly connected to this evolution, enabling a change from the previous inefficient disconnected and paper-based process.
Utilities: Utilities provide services across many geographies, including gas, water, electrical and communications. In the future, we are likely to see new forms of infrastructure such as wind, wave and solar technologies emerge. The monitoring and operation of utility resources, through the use and application of sensors and other measurement technologies will grow and play an integral role in the development of future utility infrastructure.
Transportation: Transportation systems are integral components of sustainable living, occurring in both urban and rural locations, but also in many modes. Air, water, road and rail can each be considered a part of the integrated transportation network. Planning for transportation development and operation is a spatial question and will necessarily involve an understanding of how people relate to place and the systems that support their movement. Transportation planning is subject to a large amount of visualization and include new approaches that engage sensor networks and monitoring technologies.
Policy and Planning: Planning communities and supporting their healthy and sustainable future is dependent upon accurate spatial information, and an understanding of geographical factors and linkages between people and place. Economic connections are also vital to the decision-making processes. Sustainable communities utilize visualization tools and spatial information systems to manage data warehouses and connect to their IT support systems. These links can be seen to feed networks of employees, constituents and the general public in an interactive dialogue toward hardening and strengthening sustainable communities.
Natural Resources and the Environment: Land, water and air resources are primary contributors toward healthy sustainable communities. They are measured, monitored and modelled through space and time. Understanding how people interact, use and maintain resources is of growing importance as environmental factors move higher up the international agenda. Water and marine resources are particularly important to consider because of the vast areas they cover on the planet and how they connect with military, transport and land-use issues. A significant amount of measurement, monitoring and spatial analysis is performed with relation to these resources, as is a growing amount of visualization.
Emergency Planning and Response: Good planning involves designing and building the infrastructure necessary to meet future requirements, including response and recover to disaster. Response can be planned for, thereby reducing risk factors and improving mitigation factors. Spatial tools provide the ability to simulate and view potential disaster scenarios prior to an event, and the ability to assess impacts if a disaster hits.
Public Safety, Security and Intelligence: Protecting and defending citizens is a critical component of sustainable living. Law enforcement is increasingly using non-intrusive sensors to monitor the populace and speed the investigation of incidents. The military have long been on the cutting edge of realistic simulations in order to train and prepare for combat. The intelligence community relies heavily on integrated spatial technology to assess and mitigate threats.
Education/Research: Education and research are key components of any plan that seeks to support sustainable living across urban and rural regions. Needs are growing for new professionals to become involved in integrated management issues where technology plays an integral role in the management of processes and decision making. Tools such as 2D, 3D and 4D visualization are increasingly being linked to environmental, economic, political and social factors. Meanwhile, a need for ongoing research into spatial technology hardware and software, as well as methods for their application needs to be more fully understood. Of particular interest is the need to understand how these technologies can be applied in new ways to promote and ensure a sustainable, healthy future.
To understand the developing market for integrated sensors and systems in the infrastructure design and construction industries, it’s important to consider the combined capabilities of spatial technologies that include GIS, CAD, BIM, LIDAR and aligned capture technologies, as well as integrated sensors:
• GIS encompasses the array of computer systems designed to process maps and geospatial data (i.e., an information system designed to work with data referenced by spatial or geographic coordinates). GIS software is used to develop, store, analyze and output geospatial data. In a sense, a GIS may be thought of as a higher-order map. Common database functions, such as query and statistical analysis, are integrated with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits of maps. There’s a vast difference between seeing information in a table of rows and columns and seeing it presented in the form of a map. The difference isn’t simply aesthetic; it’s conceptual. The way users see data has a profound effect on the connections they make and the conclusions they draw from the data. GIS provides the layout and drawing tools that help present facts with clear, compelling documents.
• CAD is a system that is highly oriented toward design and design processes. The information within a CAD system is usually acquired by technologies that employ measurement devices that are capable of measuring high degrees of accuracy and precision. For this reason, the applications CAD are associated with infrastructure like roads, bridges, pipelines, plants and structures. Since most CAD are oriented toward ‘projects’ this means that collections of drawings are often stored together. However, the design process includes not only infrastructure drawings but also text, messages and other documents associated with the project. This is why CAD systems entail data models that focus on the management and distribution as well as the collaboration of information. Because the content of drawings includes structures, CAD systems are highly correlated to 3D object design and visualization purposes. GIS and CAD link together at the data model level. Their combined information leverages both design and analysis, creating a powerful combination for visualization use and communication.
• Building Information Modeling, a technology that has close ties to both CAD and GIS, is a digital representation of the building process to facilitate the exchange of information in a digital format. BIM covers building properties and components as well as the geometry, spatial relationships and geographic information of the parcel that the building rests on.
• Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology uses laser instruments to bounce light off objects and gather these reflected points to represent a highly accurate 3D terrain model. The technology is applied with great success to capture detailed cityscapes both from above (aerial) and from the ground (terrestrial). Marrying these two perspectives results in an engineering-grade 3D model.
• Sensors (such as GPS, video, weather stations, stress sensor, etc.) are coming together in integrated networks to create smart sensor webs where sensors can talk to one another. These inputs to models add a great deal of intelligence and potentially real-time views and analysis.
3D Visualization is influenced and shaped by several fields and related technologies, including gaming, entertainment, computer science, information management and photogrammetry. For example, as database management software becomes more advanced, its benefits accrue to geospatial technology. Computer hardware that supports visualization in games is comparable to products used in business and scientific environments. Similarly, the types of input/output peripheral devices used in geospatial technology applications are comparable to those in traditional data processing.
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