By 2020 70 per cent of the world's population will be city dwellers. Existing cities will grow and many new ones will be built. China has seen a rise in city living from 13 per cent in 1950 to more than 40 per cent today. That figure is expected to rise to 60 per cent in another 15 years.

By 2020 the UK's city dwellers will account for more than 92 per cent of the population. Up from an already high 79 per cent in 1950. In 2009, for the first time, Africa saw more than 40 per cent of its population living in cities. Botswana holds the record for that continent's growth from 2.7 per cent in 1950 to 61 per cent today. Worldwide around 125,000 people move to cities every day.

Images: 3DS

Cities need to plan for the future and Dassault Systèmes is working with many of them deploying technology to create and evolve 3D digital city models. These are used as a central reference point for local government, urban planners, architects and citizens. 3D models help them define the future of cites based on 'what if' scenarios that the technology simulates. These can cover for example, heath provision, mobility and security.

Simulating cities and their services means they can can become de-compartmentalized and considered as whole inter-related entities. This new perspective integrates formerly disparate departments making them better informed, more efficient and able to visualize potential futures with greater accuracy.

Planning for the Future

With political, financial and security consequences at stake there is a growing information dis-junction within and between city administrators. Access to information, via a 3D city model efficiently solves this problem by keeping people in synch with one another through a single source of information about their city.

In the past a great deal of technology  has been used to help run city departments but unfortunately this has often led to making complex situations incompressible. The problem lies in the separate information stores, or silos, of data that inevitably arise when more than one computer system is deployed by an organisation.

Diverse systems cannot access or read each other's data, so security and other planning is often based on out of date, incomplete and disjointed information that effectively misinforms stakeholders and the public.  This can lead to wrong choices being made and security being compromised.

Head In The Clouds

If aeroplanes were built and operated like cites no one would fly in one. Now cities are deploying technology from aerospace and other highly efficient industries including F1 motor racing, in a drive to improve services, promote universal access to information and accurately envision future performance.

Starting with a blank page, new cities can plan and operate using the same software that fosters industrial and commercial innovation through simulation. Existing cities can incorporate this technology on new projects.

For example Dassault Systèmes is currently working with the Italian government to help enable that county's Ministry of Commerce and Finance to streamline its internal and external information services. Using 3DEXPERIENCE technology as a platform, other projects, and any type of information, can be added over time to build a big 3D picture that is comprehensible and usable by all.

Secure in Knowledge

It is possible to make the mass of data that cities generate more useful and effective for security purposes through 3D visualization. Managing data and using it to service city needs is possible by building layers of information around a digital 3D city model that can be accesses by stakeholders to make better informed decisions.

A project undertaken with an airport authority in France makes use of a 3D digital model of the facility and its transport, utility and logistics services. Security plays a big part in this project. The authority's model includes CCTV cameras, GPS information and other feeds that can be built up into a complete picture. This allows them to operate what-if scenarios and isolate gaps in services or security provision. Incorporating building services, aircraft movements, foot traffic and much more, helps planners see the whole system and work towards improving its security and overall efficiency.

The same system when it is applied to a city deploys the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform to unify silos of information and bring departments into harmony. Integrating a city's information means that efficiencies can be introduced because people are aware of each other's work and can organise departments and security based on current information and needs.

The software does this with workflow monitoring. Unifying and co-ordinating systems around a 3D digital model encourages fresh ideas sparked by collaboration and the new vision that the model provides. People can more fully understand the impact of their decisions and, by having access to appropriate layers of information, reach and communicate them universally.

Using a single platform for security planning, as well as management and public and stakeholder access, puts everything in synch. Many cities use 3D digital simulations to run and optimize security scenarios. Events ranging from a city centre dirty bomb to live maps of potentially vulnerable areas can incorporate existing data in any format.

History - Lessons for the Future

Progressive cities are able to commit their work, including 3D digital models of buildings and services to a unified platform and to build up an increasingly detailed security and services model of the city when new projects are added. As more users contribute information a 'time machine' historic model will emerge. Historic situations become viewable while the progress of current work can be very accurately recorded and traced.

Security is a pre-requisite for sustainable economic development but without an accurate vision and unified workflows that record actions and decisions, security can be compromised because of 'invisible data' - i.e. data that is locked away in silos. Adding all data to the model enables universal access to historical information.

This visibility means the mistakes of the past can be avoided and routes to good decisions recorded because the unified platform helps people better understand the current situation and that of their predecessors. It also gives access to a view of what is to come. Adding details of future projects to the model allows decisions about security and other matters to be more fully examined and effectively dealt with.

This type of system is used by major aircraft manufacturers, power plant operators, pharmaceutical, food and consumer product companies to ensure compliance to rules. It also leads to accurate record keeping throughout all operations and processes. And it retains intellectual property meaning that when people leave, the knowledge they built up is not lost but is retained within the layers of information that comprise the 3D model.

Security planners, rather than reacting to situations as they develop can examine many what-if scenarios to find the most beneficially optimised solution. This makes best use of resources and funds for both the public's and the authority's mutual benefit - a political no brainer.

Problem Solved

Using shared 3D experiences to simulate cities reveals potential problems that may not be seen by any other means. Overlaying data reveals new views and it is possible, with Dassault Systèmes technology, to actually predict events.

Transport systems, and hubs, public services, utility provision and security along with the location and operation of everything in the city can be modelled. Seamlessly linking the system to financial software allows cost planning and budgetary predictability. By this means potential problems and their outcomes can be observed and fixed before they occur.

Building up knowledge into a single 3D digital model that can grow over time to encompass any aspect of the city and its security helps make complexity visible and therefore understandable.

Having historic data readily available means that fewer research projects and reports need to be generated to examine the past. That saves time and allows projects to proceed more easily with all stakeholders being aware of the consequence of their decisions. Being able to simultaneously see the big and the small picture also helps reduce corruption by making it easier to spot.

Cities thrive on creativity. To become vibrant exciting places to live and work cities need to accommodate the human urge for spontaneous creativity. Introducing order where it is needed and encouraging creativity within an efficient secure framework can help avoid chaos and lead to the natural respectful expressions that gives a city its soul.