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35 CHAPTER FIVE CHANGES IN USE OF VISUALIZATION SINCE 1996 PRIMARY FINDINGS OF NCHRP SYNTHESIS 229 The more sophisticated systems are being developed to provide almost immediate feedback on increases or decreases in energy To better understand the changes and advancements over the efficiency as design alternatives are tried. past 10 years, it is both useful and prudent to contrast the find- This same sort of technology is being explored in transportation ings in this study with those of the 1996 NCHRP Synthesis of applications. Highway Practice 229: Applications of 3-D and 4-D Visual- One very important feedback loop in these systems will be 3-D ization Technology in Transportation (12). The following visualization. statements highlight the findings and conclusions of that While the value of 3-D visualization tools as a primary feedback synthesis: mechanism for rules-based design systems can be demonstrated, a great deal of further experimentation and evaluation is needed Because there has been no widespread use of 3-D technologies to create a cost-effective design system. in transportation, it is not possible to reach any valid conclusions with respect to relative effectiveness, the breadth of application within an agency, public acceptance, or other benefits that may accrue from adopting 3-D and 4-D technologies. Three basic Transportation Applications questions have been identified that would be of immeasurable value to transportation practitioners if meaningful answers could Clearly, it is not possible to say how long it will be before any of be found. these technologies become commonplace or reach a level of refinement that will make them more economically attractive . . . [T]hese technologies do represent [a probable] future of the Effectiveness of 3-D and 4-D Materials tool base in transportation communication, planning, design, in Design and Communication construction, and administration. For these reasons, adminis- trators and professionals charged with the responsibility of . . . [N]o research has been done to relate various 3-D modeling developing and operating the computer-based systems of any techniques to the effectiveness and cost-savings achieved for a agency [may wish to] stay abreast of developments in these emerging systems. variety of projects. Appropriate research could identify cost-effective production methods, [and] review procedures and processes that could offer WHAT HAS BEEN LEARNED SINCE 1996 significant savings in the design, permitting, and construction processes. From the perspective of technology, the capability to develop highly realistic 3-D models, images, and animations for public involvement has significantly Acceptance and Appropriate Levels of Detail improved since the publication of NCHRP Synthesis 229 in 1996. What was once the domain of powerful mini- . . . there is almost always a concern expressed (by professionals) computers has now become commonplace using personal about the public's suspicion of computer-generated imagery. computers. However, the basis of this suspicion is not well understood. . . . there is a need to better understand what types of imagery gen- This improved ability, however, remains to be effectively erate the highest levels of confidence and what levels of detail are integrated into the CADD hardware and software that pro- necessary to effectively communicate concepts, ideas, and out- vide the foundation of the design process. Also, although the comes to a variety of audiences. capability to generate the imagery has improved enormously, our understanding of the principles guiding its effective uti- lization has not. Integration of Visualization Technology with Rules-Based Design Systems In many cases, the problems relate to institutional organi- zation, whereas in other cases the problems are more man- [R]ules-based systems have been developed to evaluate the energy power, personnel, and training related. In almost all instances efficiency of buildings based on factors such as fenestration, ori- there is a problem with the difficulty experienced by practi- entation, season, geographic location, and materials palette. tioners in moving the design process (most notably CAD) into