3-DIMENSIONAL VIRTUAL REALITY IN URBAN MANAGEMENT
The emergence of virtual reality and related tools is providing the fundamental infrastructure to begin building virtual cities which can provide an interactive simulation and analysis environment for planning and management of urban places. The virtual city will provide urban managers with a computer environment to interface with the multitude of complex physical and social data needed to plan and manage cities, along with necessary tools to explore and analyse that data in meaningful and intuitive ways. This paper looks at the applications of 3D Virtual reality (VR) in Urban management, its limitations and the future of 3D VR in urban management.
1. INTRODUCTION Neighbourhoods, cities and regions are complex phenomena. The way planners and urban designers think about and communicate their ideas about urban problems and their solutions is strongly, although not exclusively, visual. Visualisation of urban planning and urban design is based on three premises (Dodge et al., 1998): To understand nearly any subject of consequence it is necessary to consider it from multiple viewpoints, using a variety of information; Understanding complex information about urban planning and urban design may be greatly extended if the information is visualised; Visualisation aids in communicating with others. Communication and Visualisation is at the heart of the planning system, the map and plan in two-dimensional form has been the norm, although extensions to the third dimension are important through urban design, which acts as the interface between planning and architecture. Other visual media such as photographs and statistical presentations through charts of various kinds also supplement the way such communication takes place. The potential of visualisation in the planning and design of the built environment is very significant. The ability to represent, model and evaluate changes to the built environment on the computer desktop and over the Internet offers potential to enhance the planning and design process; and also help communicate ideas and developments to the public at large. The traditional approach is to display images and information within a two dimensional (2D) framework, whereby real world phenomenon are projected in Euclidean space in either vector or raster formats (Tomlin, 1990). With 2-Dimensional presentations, layers of data sets are needed to fully described an urban set-up. These layers become so complex and only professionals can fully manipulate and get information for the layers. The ordinary man will thus be sidelined by such a system. Of late, researchers have been exploring the use of 3D VR Systems to overcome the limitations of 2-D Systems.