Bentley reality modeling helped with Pope’s Philadelphia visit

November 12, 2015  - By
Screenshot from EDM Productions documentary.

Screenshot from EDM Productions documentary.

When Philadelphia welcomed Pope Francis during his September visit, Bentley Systems’ 3D reality modeling tools helped the event company plan the multi-faceted event, including the anchor event of the Eighth World Meeting of Families Congress.

In planning this massive and multi-faceted event, production company ESM Productions needed to coordinate with Philadelphia’s many public services, as well as the U.S. Secret Service, Pennsylvania state agencies, and the local Philadelphia Catholic Diocese. This coordination was made more effective through Bentley’s reality modeling technology, as well as services provided by a legion of Bentley colleague volunteers.

ESM had witnessed firsthand Bentley’s new reality modeling capabilities at a Bentley event that they produced, and was struck by its significant potential to accelerate their planning of the pope’s visit to Philadelphia.

Upon learning of this interest, Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley invited Bentley colleagues (and retirees) to donate their time and talent to a “pro bono” effort on the part of Bentley Systems to help assure its headquarters region’s successful hosting of the pope and the unprecedented number of expected visitors.

Some 30 colleagues participated in exploring how reality modeling could expedite the design and engineering of substantial temporary facilities for this highly visible, fast-tracked project, while supporting the extreme security workflows required.

“We wouldn’t be chosen to produce world-class events unless we did them well, and we do them well because we innovatively apply the appropriate and most effective technologies,” said Scott Mirkin, co-founder and executive producer of ESM Productions.”The minute we saw Bentley’s reality modeling in action, we knew it could provide breakthrough benefits — but given the exceptionally tight deadlines, we had limited time, in our own right, to experiment with it.”

Bentley colleagues offered their support and applied Bentley’s reality modeling, enabling the event organizing team to ensure that one of the country’s largest public events was executed successfully.

“In the end, we experienced dramatic risk reduction, better decision making, exceptional timeliness, and greater efficiency,” Mirkin said. “The goal we set with Bentley to test the applicability of reality modeling as a mission-critical event planning technology was completely validated, and we are now planning to offer this new value to our clients going forward.”

ESM Productions was so impressed by the benefits of reality modeling, the company is creating a documentary highlighting its use and outcomes, Mirkin said. See a preview below.

Bentley’s reality modeling process involved three steps:

Capture reality. Bentley’s ContextCapture software was used to build a highly detailed, photo-textured 3D “reality mesh” model from 28,000 digital photographs, with unprecedented geometrical accuracy. Base imagery was provided by Pictometry, high-resolution aerial photography was taken by helicopter by AEROmetrex, and ground footage was captured by Bentley volunteers — including building facades, street views, and the inside of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Engineer in context. The highly precise 3D model was populated with 2D and 3D maps and designs, resulting in a 28 GB dataset. The dataset was used to communicate the details for the 56,400 temporary structures, main and secondary stages and event seating, 33 miles of security barricade perimeter, special U.S. Secret Service security requirements, impact of local road closures to pedestrian traffic flows, and more.

Enliven the engineered environment. Bentley’s LumenRT software was used to add motion and additional content to simulate the expected operational experience, a great help to decision makers. The team added moving people in crowds, vehicles flowing in traffic, dynamic sunlight conditions, and seasonal trees and plants.

“This was a highly public and complex project, with many stakeholders and an impossible timeline. We got involved right in the middle of it,” said Buddy Cleveland, a recently retired Bentley senior vice president who led the Bentley team. “The papal visit required effective planning for the construction and management of temporary facilities and utilities amidst a busy urban infrastructure.”

Bentley created a comprehensive, highly detailed 3D model of Philadelphia that was visually realistic and dimensionally accurate, and then seamlessly integrated that model with engineering models produced by its tools. “Both ESM and Bentley are very grateful to our partners, Pictometry and AEROmetrex, who stepped up to provide the base imagery, aerial imagery, and processing with ContextCapture to create the initial reality mesh,” Cleveland said.

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About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.