The Coronavirus pandemic has caused many infrastructure agencies such as state Departments of Transportation and their consultants to transition to a “remote workplace” model, with project team members working from their homes. However, social distancing creates many obstacles to the coordination and collaboration needed to keep projects moving forward. A typical infrastructure project requires a high degree of collaboration within the project development team, within the agency responsible for the project, with other agencies and stakeholders impacted by the project, and with the general public. This paper describes how real-time Cloud-based 3-D modeling and visualization integrated with remote collaboration technologies provides solutions to these challenges by aiding the design review and approval process with both engineering professionals and the general public.
Since 2005 RDV Systems has specialized in providing advanced technology and services in rapid 3-D modeling, simulation, and visualization. RDV has been involved in over 70 projects involving transportation infrastructure in the U.S., working with DOTs, transit authorities, local agencies, and their engineering consultants. RDV takes a unique, “publish – don’t render” approach to visualization, producing accurate, geometrically correct, interactive virtual models of the proposed design rather than simply creating rendered images and videos.
On most projects, RDV was initially engaged to provide visualization assets to support public involvement activities. However, along the way our clients discovered a new benefit – once RDV provided the interactive 3-D project model to the agency-consultant design team, the model quickly became a key tool for the project team to review and evaluate their designs. This nearly always resulted in design modifications ranging from small, but important, adjustments to the project design details to major revisions.
This phenomenon is not so surprising. Engineers have traditionally relied upon reviewing designs using CAD drawings. One problem with this approach is that the design elements are typically stored in different silos such as roadway geometry plans, striping plans, signs and signal plans, and so on. Another issue is that this data is often in the form of 2-D drawings, particularly in the earlier conceptual design stages of the project. Even project designs developed in 3-D CAD do not convey a complete picture.