Flooding: A Wave of Preparedness with CyberCity 3D City Models and Streaming 3D Cities

Nov 30, 2015 -- Be prepared!  With climate change altering environmental factors, the Boy Scout motto is an even bigger necessity for areas plagued by flood-related risks including rising sea level, a boost in storm surges from tropical systems, tidal flooding, and heavier rainfall rates.  

All over the country, jurisdictions across the nation are actively planning flood mitigation strategies for government and the public at large. All of these mitigation plans involve mapping and visualization tools.

Map courtesy of FEMA

Counties, cities, as well as other governmental and private entities can now turn to a new ally in flood preparedness: CyberCity 3D, Inc.’s™ 3D GIS building models and streaming 3D maps.  The Company works with government agencies as well as private concerns to capture different flood scenarios in realistic 3D to ready communities, mitigate damage, and assist insurance companies.

Take Broward County, Florida, home to the urban coastline community of Fort Lauderdale, for example.  The University of North Carolina/Ashville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) contracted with CyberCity 3D to develop 3D GIS-based visualizations of two flood-related project areas in Broward County.  NEMAC’s focus:  to visualize what various flood threats may “look” like and to assess how the modeled mitigation efforts may lessen these impacts.  A key request:  to make the 3D visualizations as realistic as possible.  CyberCity 3D provided more than 1,000 highly precise 3D GIS building models with its patented 3D modeling process. The resulting smart buildings automatically contained valuable measurement data (height, roof slope, etc), with up to six-inch accuracy.  The datasets also included high resolution digital terrain models as well as aerial imagery.

NEMAC then used CyberCity 3D’s models and Esri's ArcScene® to illustrate before/after flood scenarios, with storm surge estimates provided by the Florida Division of Emergency Management.  The flood overlays added by NEMAC further showed the flood impacts and helped asses the USGS modeled mitigation efforts.

Before/After Flood Scenario in Broward Co., FL, using CyberCity 3D, Inc. buildings,
courtesy of Greg Dobson at NEMAC

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, city officials contacted CyberCity 3D to build a 3D model and map a web-based information visualization system of all of Cambridge’s buildings and water catchment systems.  That totaled more than 20,000 buildings along with more than 40,000 water catchment systems throughout the city.  The goal?  To visualize all of the buildings and rainwater harvesting systems from a streaming web server and export the data in formats essential for running in standard 3D GIS and mapping systems.  Water catchment systems are critical to city hydrological management, which includes directing, protecting and maintaining water assets such as storm drains.

Utilizing existing stereo aerial imagery and GIS water catchment data, CyberCity 3D modeled the buildings and integrated them into a 3D GIS map that included the water catchment systems.  The Company then chose Analytic Graphics, Inc.’s Cesium™, an open architecture 3D globe that is freely downloadable and runs on all mobile and desktop devices, to visualize the 3D streaming map.  The 3D buildings were optimized for web-streaming and delivered via a 3D building server. The overall 3D streaming map includes multiple image layers including OSM™ and Bing™, and also shows trees and zoning layers.

CyberCity 3D steaming city model of Cambridge, MA with multiple image layers including
water catchment systems using Cesium’s 3D globe

Coastal city Corpus Christi was a first mover in converting 2D data to smart 3D focusing on downtown development and expansion in addition to flood plan analysis.  The Corpus Christi downtown Management District and the city’s Association of Realtors teamed to build a 3D model to showcase improvements and better communicate planned street design changes.  The program expanded to CyberCity 3D delivering a 3D visualization fly-over, a new building footprint map, sustainability data, and disaster planning information for flood plain analysis.   The resulting 3D GIS map included FEMA Flood Zones and a Flood Insurance Rate Map of the City of Corpus Christi.

CyberCity 3D city model of Corpus Christi, TX with FEMA flood zone layers

CyberCity 3D city model of Corpus Christi, TX with FEMA flood zone layers

CyberCity’s 3D city models and streaming maps visually capture flood and rainwater analysis in a realistic manner, communicating essential information to policy makers, stakeholders, and the public.  These 3D models are delivered in most 3D file formats, and seamlessly integrate with software-- including those of partners Autodesk, Esri, and AGI-- for unlimited planning, design and preparedness.


Author - Rae DeVito, Director of Marketing Communications CyberCity 3D, Inc.

Software Credits - Esri, Cesiumjs.org, Analytical Graphics, Inc.

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