Geodesign – A new approach?

Since ESRI started the GeoDesign Summit in 2010 the term started his triumphal procession. But what is GeoDesign? According to MICHAEL FLAXMAN (2010) "GeoDesign is a design and planning method which tightly couples the creation of a design proposal with impact simulations informed by geographic context". The idea is that the planner or designer receives at every working step real-time guidance using contextual geographic information. The design can be evaluated relative to the local conditions and continuous feedback on multiple aspects will be provided through the whole planning process instead of post-hoc evaluation (Flaxman, 2010). GeoDesign may improve the design and planning process combining the potentials of CAD, GIS, Building Information Models (BIM) and visualization tools (Dangermond, 2009 and 2010; Flaxman, 2010; Ervin, 2011) and improve interaction and collaboration in the planning process (Tomlin, 2011; Francica, 2012). In contrast to the specific GIS or CAD workflow a hypothetical one for the GeoDesign workflow will look like Fig. 18.

Design Instantiation

Pick a site or area of study

Pick suitable feature representations, based on standard or custom data models Adjust visual portrayal (symbology) as desired

Select suitable evaluation models based on availability, project needs

Integrated Design/Sketch Evaluation

Sketch features (semantically rich and georeferenced by default)

Sketch evaluation tools give feedback without blocking drawing Running selected models on design iterations is default and automatic

Full Impact Evaluation

Same technical structure as sketch models (simply take longer to run)

Models run as background tasks (typically as web geoprocessing services)

Models results streamed back to design client incrementally as computed Evaluation models recognize design context in addition to input design data Appropriate analysis context can vary by model

Fig. 18. GeoDesign Process-Flow (Flaxman, 2010)

But actual the full process remains hypothetically while aspects are already available in existing software tools (Dangermond, 2009, 2010; Flaxman, 2010). The concepts had been embedded in Decision Support Systems (Brail et al., 2008) or GIS-based planning tools (Flaxman, 2010). GeoDesign is not a new concept. It’s a refinement and restatement of ideas that had been discussed in the past multiple times (Flaxman, 2010; Ervin, 2011; Schwarz-v. Raumer & Stokman, 2011). But thinking about context-sensitive impact evaluation leads to an evolving concept. While multi-criteria analysis are not new (Schwarz-v. Raumer & Stokman, 2011; von Haaren, 2004; Jessel & Tobias, 2002) using them in real-time is a very complex issue and only a few GIS systems are able to do so (Flaxman, 2010). Sharing and deploying a variety of models and indicators using web services will radically reduce software installation and configuration time. The enhancement of web services to "geodesign evaluation services" (Flaxman, 2010) using open and interoperable formats will enlarge the development of tools and software systems. Standardized data models like CityGML (Flaxman, 2010) or XPlanung (Pietsch et al., 2010; Benner & Krause, 2007; Benner et al., 2008) in Germany are necessary as semantic representations of design domains but have to be expanded to evaluate the compliance of a plan for sustainable planning (Flaxman, 2010). The necessary elements that a hybrid GeoDesign System (GDS) requires are described by ERVIN (2011). He mentions sixteen essential components knowing that additional to the technical evolution some shifts in working styles are necessary. However the inevitable complications remain the GeoDesign concept remains enormous potential to improve design and planning processes if new ways of interaction towards a process-driven planning and project implementation will be achieved (Tomlin, 2011; Stockman & von Haaren, 2010; Schwarz-v. Raumer & Stokman, 2011).