Three-dimensional City Planning Using Photogrammetry and GIS

By Samba Siva Kiran

In recent times urbanization has undergone tremendous development, primarily due to increasing population and an associated preference to live in cities. The ever-increasing demand for urban space presents a conflict between the environment and human population. The manifestation of this problem has been unscientific and ill-planned cities and the development of slums. Asian countries are experiencing this problem manifold because of rapid and ever-increasing rates of city development. In this context it is important to use technology for visualizing a new city, even before it is developed. In this paper, we explore how photogrammetric and GIS software are used. These methods play an essential role in the creation, analysis and visualization of 3D city models. These models enable us to find solutions for various hazards involved in urbanization for future town planning and administration. 
Outputs from photogrammetric methods are 3D vectors, which belong to ground features that correspond to global coordinates. These ground features are then processed using GIS tools to render and add attribute information and to display the model graphically. Finally, this model will become input for analysis to identify solutions for numerous problems arising in urban agglomeration and anthropogenic activities in a geographical extent. In this study, digital photogrammetric workstations (DPWS) are used to collect data from aerial photographs and GIS workstations are used to model the data produced. Finally, outputs are delivered as 2D maps, static 3D and 3D animations.

Current Status of Urban Environments in Asia

There is unequal urban growth taking place worldwide, but the rate of urbanization in the developing countries, especially in Asia, is much faster. This exponential population growth has caused havoc on human life in city environments. The doubling and tripling of urban populations in practically all major cities and towns and the consequent strain on existing resources are manifested in environmental chaos. Every major city of India faces the same proliferating problems of urban expansion, inadequate housing, poor transportation, poor sewerage, erratic electric supply, and insufficient water supplies. An increasing number of trucks, buses, cars, three-wheelers and motorcycles, all spewing uncontrolled fumes and competing for space on city streets already jammed with  pedestrians, rickshaws and cattle, is straining the city infrastructure. The twin phenomena of rapid urban economic growth and urbanization bring higher standards of living, but also problems related to the growth of dense and unplanned residential areas, environmental pollution, lack of services and amenities, solid waste generation, and the growth of slums. Population growth and in-migration of poor people, industrial growth, inefficient and inadequate traffic corridors, and poor environmental infrastructure are the main factors causing deterioration in the overall quality of the city environment. Forests cleared, grasslands ploughed or grazed, wetlands drained and croplands encroached upon due to expanding cities are contributing problems.
The latest geospatial technology enables us to mitigate these many problems associated with any city at any stage of development. Three-dimensional GIS and city modeling are powerful tools to study the complex urban environment in its full spatial extent.
Simulation has been a research tool in several academic and practical fields for many years, for example in the military and automobile industry, as well as urban planning. Many urban planners have tried to replicate real-world environments or activities in a way that the environment becomes more manageable and controllable. Three-dimensional modeling has been the focus of many research projects. Now with computer technology using faster processors, 3D modeling is feasible and requires much less time and effort. Three-dimensional modeling and visualization techniques support the decision making process to communicate ideas very quickly, leading to better decisions. 


Three-dimensional city planning is completely dependent on photogrammetric data. DPWS are used to create 3D digital elevation models, digital terrain models (DTM) and planimetric feature extraction. Aerial surveys coupled with ground control points (GCP) are used to georeference the collected imagery. Aerial triangulation methodology is used to view the 3D data and to collect ground heights accurately. In addition, for the planimetric features such as roads, railways, pipelines, poles or buildings, data extraction can be completed by developing a database with the different feature classes. After extracting the planimetric and DTM features, they are converted into a geodatabase in ArcGIS using the elevation values. Subsequently by overlaying the planimetric features and assigning the extrusion heights of each feature, 3D city models can be visualized. The complete methodology is shown in the flow chart (Figure -1).

Figure 1: Methodology Flow Chart     

Results of the study presented in this paper are divided into different parts based on the adopted methodology. The results display different patterns such as planimetric, utility and terrain features. Complete feature extraction based on the CAD layers is presented in Figure 2. The point dataset used to extract the utility and DEM features, in addition to point features, has been used for utility mapping. The point features were used to extract height values (Figure 3). The line dataset was used to extract the linear and DEM/DTM features. The line features are used to extract the features with height values such as buildings, connector lines or fences (Figure 4).  The polygon dataset is used to extract the aerial features. The area features are used to extract areas with height values of each node and area values of overall polygons (Figure 5).

Figure 2: 3D CAD Files

Figure 3: Point Features


Figure 5: Area Features


After extracting points, lines and polygons, the data (Figure 6) are split into two different datasets, one planimetric and the other as DEM or DTM features. The features are converted into either shapefiles or as feature classes for the development of the geodatabase. CAD data are also converted into the geodatabase. Converted CAD files are stored in geodatabase as feature datasets and feature classes. Feature class files are shown in the orthophoto in Figure 7. Using these datasets, DEM/DTM features are extracted, such as roads, mass points, rivers, break lines, manholes and streams, at one-meter contour intervals (Figure 8). After preparing the contour map, the DEM can be generated with the base contour values (Figure 9). ArcScene is used to add heights to each vector (points, lines and polygons) and raster layer (Figure 10).


Figure 6: Overall Input Features


Figure 7: Converting files Cad to GIS


Figure 8:  Contour Map


Figure 9: Digital Elevation Model

Figure 10: 3D Viewing in ArcScene 


Planimetric data are added to the map (Figure 11). In addition, these DEM data and planimetric data are used to assign the extrusion base heights of DEM values and assigned the planimetric feature heights (Figure 12). Finally, from the output all the planimetric features are clearly visualized in 3D. When all features are assigned with exact heights in the globe we can clearly see the 3D city model (Figure 13).


The results can be used for proper network analysis and city planning. This 3D model can represent the city in virtual reality with exact scale. The results can be used to find a place for pipelines and drainage networking. Based on the analysis, urban authorities can plan to develop the infrastructure and suitable lands for industrialization and urbanization. The current planning and subsequent 3D model can be used for site selection of telecommunication and power lines. Based on this analysis we can plan for new roads and improve existing road infrastructure. The present study is also helpful for utility mapping. Proper planning can be initiated to help to convert fallow land to urban city (Figure 14).

Figure 11: Planimetric Features



Figure 12: 3D View Overlay with DEM 



Figure 13: 3D View Overlay with Ortho photos 



Figure 14: 3D Urban City Planning




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Published Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Written by Samba Siva Kiran

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