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Technology Empowering Urban Planning and Smart Cities




Paul Wallett
Regional Director,
Middle East and India, Trimble Solutions.


In other words, urban planning should be aimed at creating vibrant, efficient and sustainable habitats for its citizens – who inhabit these habitats. It is equally important for the key stakeholders involved in urban planning and construction to embrace cutting-edge technologies as they go about the task of revamping the existing cities or planning future ones – many of those being smart cities.

A smart city, however, cannot be built or run without active participation of all the stakeholders in an urban landscape. A city’s infrastructure is used 24 hours a day, seven days a week by its citizens. Key stakeholders in a smart city’s planning and development include municipal leadership, IT and telecommunications companies, utilities, municipality technical services, and grid-infrastructure service providers who have critical roles to play in their individual capacities. A buy-in from all stakeholders is often necessary for actively using technology to create future-ready cities.

In fact, by using modern technologies, construction engineers are able to design and create smart and self-sustainable urban ecosystems in much lesser time frames, besides optimizing the use of precious resources. However, in order to reap maximum benefit of these technologies, the entire design and construction process needs to undergo a paradigm shift.

Constructible Process for Smarter Cities

To begin with, this transformation of the extant design and construction processes necessitates a new vision. Closely aligned with this vision is the need for a process that is capable of delivering to this vision. Trimble has developed a brand new Constructible Process that encourages this transformation. The Constructible Process is made up of three central concepts or 3Cs: all phases and trades are Connected, models and workflows are Content-enabled and finally, Constructible models drive smarter workflows.







With smart and sustainable buildings at the core, our Constructible Process is a culmination of the faith that empowers construction professionals to achieve unprecedented efficiency across all phases of building design and construction. And the underpinning of these powers is a solid set of software led by Trimble’s flagship product – Tekla Structures.

With constructability in focus, 3D models created with Tekla Structures are rich in information, accurate, detailed and connected in real time. This ensures that the original design concept is faithfully adhered while adjusting to real-world constraints. These constraints may include unforeseen problems at the architectural stage, in-the-moment adaptations based on the kinds of scheduling as well supply complications that plague construction projects quite often.

Collaboration is extremely important in the construction process as multiple stakeholders are involved in the lifecycle, and collaboration tools like Trimble Connect and Tekla Model Sharing allow cloud-based collaboration in real time, minimizing risk and wastage by establishing more efficient and accessible channels of communication between the various stakeholders. A content-enabled process further ensures that all stakeholders are working with up to date information, stored in the cloud and readily available to all. The 3Cs approach thus helps in keeping a check on project timelines, while simultaneously mitigating costly errors and rework.

As the global leader in construction technology, Trimble has trained its innovation engine to build better and smarter structures world wide. The Castle Tower in London is a great example of how Tekla Structures was integral to the creation of a green structure that generates its own power using wind energy. In order to harness wind energy, 20-feet tall wind turbines were installed on top of a building using accurate 3D model. Such examples prove that technology could contribute towards energy security of Indian cities too, making the cities less dependent on non-renewable resources.

Smart cities are often built and developed over existing cities in a brown field model and the process of redevelopment happens in a very constrained environment. Planning new smart cities by refurbishing existing infrastructure, requires construction professionals to utilize the synergy of information and technology, to be able to find the best route, cost estimates, constructible models and construction coordination. In addition to what is explained above, new technology such as Automated Machine Guidance (AMG) helps in transferring the constructible model parameters to machines for accurate construction data and methods of construction.

The precision of Trimble’s Constructible BIM models not only enhances the quality of infrastructure that is built to stand a life span of 50-60 years, it also reduces wastage in the construction process. With current C&D waste estimated around 25-30 million tones, it is important to use technologies /processes like Constructible BIM that reduce wastage in smart cities development. Trimble’s hardware and software solutions make the construction process efficient, accurate and sustainable. This claim was adequately demonstrated by Trimble in the implementation of the Rapid Rail project in China, where transparency and timely completion of the project were paramount to the project owners.

Internet of Things for Sustainable Development

IoT and advanced software solutions/ processes like Constructible BIM allow industry professionals to use technology right through the lifecycle of construction, build structures that reduce the emissions and thus make earth a better and more sustainable place. Technology also works actively to reduce wastage of time, as well as people and money resource. This benefit of BIM and IoT extends beyond design and construction, and into the long-term maintenance and use of the completed structure throughout its life.

During the construction phase, IoT allows construction workers, machinery and materials “talk” to a central data platform (BIM) that captures critical performance parameters. It also facilitates effective collection and use of data which consequently results in optimizing the efficiency and productivity of operations. Even in post construction phase, IoT plays an important role in the maintenance of critical equipment’s like HVAC, elevators and escalators. Sensor data can monitor patterns of key stress indicators like temperature, vibration, etc.

Additionally, smart infrastructure should be complemented with efficient transpor-tation system, largely free from traffic con-gestion. This is where GPS based tracking of vehicles plays a crucial role in urban planning through intelligent traffic management, correct route information sharing with public, dynamic car pooling, road user charges based on traffic and smart toll, resulting in de-congestion as well efficient traffic flow. Awell-planned implementation of GPS tracking in urban cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore would help decongesting these and relieving from traffic woes.







In summary

Creation of smart cities requires a multi-faceted approach with different technologies to be put to use, in order to have robust IT connectivity and digitization of the cities, sustainable structures being important landmarks. It becomes imperative to study and understand the city’sassets’ behavior to provide an ecosystem that is predictive and self-sustainable. It is only through cutting edge application and processes such Constructible BIM, IoT and positioning tech that this can be achieved.

Efficient policy mechanism, smart governance and a systematic approach are fundamental to smart cities. From technology to policy to enablement to government action and citizen participation, everything adds up to a smart city. The Smart Cities Mission which focuses on building smart cities is a great effort by the government in this direction, which will in due course, facilitate development of smarter cities in India that the world will admire.


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