Design tools and digital applications are on the rise to support risk planning and scenario analysis during the pandemic and beyond.

Bentley’s OpenBuildings Station Designer enables surveyors, planners, architects, and structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, to collaborate from the early stages of a building’s design through construction and operations. The application incorporates performance simulations, including people movement and energy consumption, into the design. With LEGION Simulator, which replicates the movement of people in crowded spaces like arenas and train stations, users can predict the safety, efficiency,  and commercial viability of projects before construction begins. For safety, users can model evacuation times, emergency services access, safety routes, and other movement-related features of buildings.

OpenBuildings can test the efficiency of any object, such as stairs, escalators, ticket machines, and turnstiles; activity spots, such as shops, queueing spaces, and security check areas; and other interactions, including passenger communication systems, staff guidance, and wayfinding signage. Simulations can also evaluate the design of commercial spaces and activities, including advertising, shops, or vending machines.

Users around the world have turned to movement simulation to test social distancing operational plans and measures such as flow separation, queuing distribution, and safe passenger numbers in public spaces. For example, London Underground, part of Transport for London, has used OpenBuildings and LEGION for years. Station capacity managers use real-life validated digital models of the majority of central stations in London to test the implementation of multiple social distancing guidelines and plans.

LEGION Simulator can test different applications of infrastructure as the world reopens. Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group and one of the world’s most respected design, engineering, and project management consultancies, is providing guidance for COVID-19 recovery to clients around the world. They recently produced a COVID-19 safer public place plan for the UK government that includes a staged process of reopening, recovering, and reimagining urban centers with social distancing in mind.

Analyzing proximity breaches and visualizing clashes among proximity circles can reveal how normal behavior increases the risk of operations. Simulations of how people respond to visual cues helps reimagine how people wait for and board trains. They are also determining how other large public spaces, such as stadiums, will welcome back the public. How will seating be allocated to ensure social distancing? Where will temperature checks prior to entry be located? How will the stadium be managed after the game?

Cities of the Future – How will They Change?

It is difficult to predict how long social distancing requirements will be necessary. However, urbanization, public transport demand, and technological disruption accelerated even before the pandemic. These trends have driven the need for efficient, resilient, and cost-effective infrastructure. Cities around the world are going digital to enable the exponential growth of simulation-led enhancements and operations improvements. We cannot predict what type of changes will happen as a result of societal change, technological change, or disruptive events like COVID-19, but people simulation can help us become more resilient, from readiness through response to and recovery from disruptions.

The New Normal…Designing for People

Owner-operators of infrastructure assets around the world are using simulations to test cost-effective operations while guaranteeing adherence to social distancing guidelines. Once models are developed in LEGION, users can test multiple “what-if” scenarios by varying demand, instituting operational measures such as staff communications, signage, and one-directional flows, or changing infrastructure with new entrances, separation barriers, and security checks. Users such as AREP, London Underground, and Santiago Metro can also test future demand, the number of trains in service, and potential service disruptions, guaranteeing that every station and public space is ready for a wide range of scenarios, including response strategies that guarantee faster recovery times.

Bentley users around the world, including owner-operators and consultants, are already using our digital twin solutions to plan, design, and simulate possible future scenarios. We are consistently helping organizations going digital by providing applications and workflows that enable collaboration when working remotely and more-efficient processes in each step of an asset’s lifecycle.