Smart city planning with multi-touch technology: 3 innovative projects making complex data accessible

Urban societies are complex by nature - they form an interconnected, tangled network of dependencies. Modern technologies make it possible to monitor almost all aspects of urban life and collect real-time data from a wide range of sources, resulting in an overwhelming amount of available data.

But data is not information, and data alone will not provide solutions. Successful smart cities turn data into information, revealing hidden patterns and allowing decisionmakers to respond quickly and effectively to challenges and develop futureproof infrastructure. Smart cities find
simple, intuitive ways for people to visualise, analyse, and work with data. They don’t work in silos but combine and aggregate data from all sources and support synergies to find the best possible solution. And smart cities are also transparent cities, empowering citizens to understand the processes that affect their daily lives and feel included in the future of their community.

We now have access to more data than ever before and can recognise trends, analyse scenarios, and mitigate risk better than any generation before us. Data is the key to all of this if we can find ways to turn it into useful information.

In this post, we'll showcase a few of our favourite Smart City use cases and discuss different ways in which multi-touch technology can support and improve complex processes like urban planning.

Berliner Wasserbetriebe | Planning table

Berlin’s Water Company and the Berlin Rainwater Agency use a digital planning table prototype developed by Interactive Scape to organise the city’s water supply and traffic flow.

The increasing population and the effects of climate change require a new way of dealing with rainwater in Berlin and ways to turn it into a useful resource. The management of rainwater contributes to climate adaptation and can have a positive impact on local waters.

In order to integrate the topic into the planning of construction projects, it is necessary to bring the different actors to one table - the digital planning table supports this process as a communicative, collaborative tool. With the planning table, stakeholders from different disciplines can work together on a common digital interface, sift through and evaluate the available planning bases, define planning goals in a participatory manner, create and evaluate planning variants, thereby creating synergies, making well-founded decisions and documenting and recording them transparently. The interactive application makes it possible to integrate various data interfaces and media types. For this purpose, comprehensive live data is dynamically fed into the application via APIs and displayed georeferenced in the form of map material.

Based on a feature list provided by the client, Interactive Scape began an iterative development process with regular tests to develop a planning table that doubles as a presentation tool for meetings and plenary sessions. The large surface of the multi-touch table makes it easy for multiple users to view and interact with large amounts of data and map materials.

Layers of map material are automatically matched and scaled, providing different levels of information for the city of Berlin, and traffic simulations enable teams to assess the impact of construction projects before they before they start. Tangible objects are used as intuitive measurement and navigation tools, adding an extra layer of interaction to the digital information. The table is often connected to a projector or second display and used for planning in hybrid meetings with both live and virtual participants, so transparency was very important to the client. Thanks to live synchronisation with the company's central database, changes made in the app are protocolled and documented automatically so everyone involved in the project can quickly get up to speed.

Siemens WindNODE FUTURE ROOM ENERGY | Showroom table

In the Siemens WindNODE Showroom "FUTURE ROOM ENERGY" in Berlin, a multi-touch application with object recognition helps to educate a wide range of visitors on industrial load transfer and renewable energies.

The showroom presents the work of the WindNODE project, which was funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action from January 2017 to March 2021 as part of the "Smart Energy Showcase - Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition" (SINTEG) funding program. The project aimed to develop practical solutions for the energy transition with which electricity consumption can be flexibly adjusted to the fluctuating output of wind and solar power plants.

The showroom creates a place for information and exchange, with interactive displays presenting innovative solutions for flexible distribution of industrial energy loads. Come with us on a digital journey into the energy system of the future. In hands-on scenarios with tangible objects, visitors can model different energy mixes of wind and solar generation and learn how the proportion of renewable energy can be increased in an energy system.

With the large amount of individual objects and visualized data in the WindNODE showroom ZUKUNFTSRAUMENERGIE, Scape X® object recognition from Interactive Scape offers us an extraordinary, high-quality and at the same time extremely intuitive interactive presentation option.

Jörn Hartung, Siemens AG Technology

The application, divided into four parts, visualises a vast amount of data points spanning 50 years and turns them into valuable, accessible information for visitors. The complexity of German energy supply, with its many interlinked processes, is made understandable thanks to dynamic analysis and haptic experience.

TransUrban.NRW | Simulation table

The E.ON TransUrban.NRW simulation table was developed for testing low-temperature
networks to reduce energy wastage in building complexes under construction. The simulated data will be gradually replaced by live data as the construction proceeds.

Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Climate Action, the TransUrban.NRW project explores low-CO2 heating and cooling for urban districts to help cities and municipalities in Germany achieve their climate protection goals. In the living lab, a multi-touch application displays data from the research project interactively.

The multifunctional app is divided into two parts. The first introductory level of the app presents and educates on the topic of low-temperature networks, with information displayed clearly and concisely for a variety of users, from average citizens to politicians and decisionmakers.

In the second level, the app shows buildings and districts with clear depictions of the energy networks and interdependencies. Users can view energy requirements through time for whole districts as well as individual buildings, which in future should help with the annual planning of heating and cooling requirements. Thanks to an intuitive user interface, it's very easy to compare and combine different data sets and use these in decision-making. Long-term, the simulated data in the application will be replaced with live data from sensors, allowing researchers valuable insight into the efficiency of the new builds.

Our products at a glance

We want to facilitate smart decisionmakers in creating the smart cities of the future, and have developed a few solutions that can support large, complex planning projects.

Our Smart City Framework software is an efficient, powerful tool designed for multi-user, cross-platform applications. Our framework helps you to create intuitive interfaces with comprehensive geodata, live data and digital models. The cloud-based Content Management System connects to databases and data streams via API and can be accessed any time, from anywhere.

Horizontal multi-touch displays used in planning tables enable teams to collaborate naturally while working with digital information. The familiarity of working together around a large table fosters empathy and creativity when working with complex digital data. Our patented, AI-based object recognition technology further enhances multi-user scenarios with haptic interaction, offering teams intuitive new ways to experience and analyse complex information. Scape X® Mobile smartphone recognition enables the seamless connection of mobile phones to present, edit, and share content securely and collaboratively. With Easire® Magnify, our virtual magnifying glass, parallel users can even interact individually with large-scale content on the whole screen without affecting the view for the rest of the team.

In short, if you have a research or planning project and need to make large amounts of data accessible, we have a solution for you. Contact us or book a demo to find out more about our solutions for collaborative planning and intuitive interaction - we look forward to hearing from you!

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