3D Modeling Aids Decision Making


3D mapping is a relatively underutilized aspect of GIS in local government.  The Village of Northbrook was recently able to use 3D mapping when considering two options for an intersection improvement.  One option included the construction of new curbs to adjust the traffic pattern.  The other option called for orange road delineators to direct traffic in place of curb construction.  The road delineators would be the less expensive option but there were concerns from Village staff about the appearance of a permanent road delineator installation. 

This is where GIS was contacted and asked if there was a way to model the intersection in 3D to better understand how the intersection would look with permanent road delineators.  We were able to take advantage of the ESRI 3D Analyst extension, a shared resource available through GIS Consortium, which can be used to create and view scenes in 3D.  Using road delineator specifications and accurate GIS data such as roads and buildings, GIS was able to create a 3D model relatively accurate to scale.  GIS was then able to provide engineers and decision makers with multiple views and angles including bird’s eye and profile views of what the intersection would look like.

The 3D intersection model can now be used by decision makers to weigh the costs and benefits of the road delineator option by comparing both the associated construction or maintenance costs and visual appearances.