Development in 3D

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What do a community project in the Philippines and the U.S. Air Force have in common? An appreciation for the power of 3D modeling to visualize and manage information.

The project from the Philippines is based on Participatory 3D Modelling "aimed at facilitating grassroots participation in problem analysis and decision-making." One has to wonder whether providing communities with a chance to see the impact of future projects on their land would engage them.

And this is what the U.S. Air Force is up to, according to The Economist:

Last year Waterstone, a consultancy, assembled the geodata for 13 American air-force bases and wrapped them up in a modified version of NASA's World Wind geobrowser.

This makes it possible to walk through a 3-D model of each base and call up multiple layers of data. A project manager can view live video from a construction site and identify the contractors and their vehicles. A planner can assess a proposed building's effect on runway visibility. And an environmental engineer, while viewing a plume of contaminated groundwater, can delve into 45 years' worth of documents associated with the site. Carla Johnson, Waterstone's boss, says the project cost less than $1m and is expected to save the air force around $5m a year through faster decision-making.

What if international financial institutions had access to a similar system to manage their projects in emerging markets - wouldn't that be a million dollars well spent?

P.S. Google's 3D Warehouse is one such platform on which development agencies can share their work: see for example, this collection of green design buildings around the world, or this one, dedicated to green design products.

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