UNSW’s Faculty of the Built Environment has announced a brand new geospatial research centre to be headed by Dr Sisi Zlatanova, a world-renowned expert in 3D mapping of public space.
One of primary goals of the research centre will be to develop 3D models of public buildings in the Sydney CBD and on the UNSW campus, with the intention to improve accessibility, safety and emergency response procedures.
This is a calling for which Professor Zlatanova is amply qualified, having led a number of research groups in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for crisis response at her previous post of Zelft University in The Netherlands, and having set up training schools on 3D modelling in universities in Germany, China, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria and Spain.
“Countries such as Germany and Singapore continue to invest heavily in 3D modelling. The key is for Sydney’s modelling to be developed in accordance with standardised systems such as CityGML, a system that can store and exchange 3D maps of cities and landscapes, so we can reuse and exchange information easily,” she said.
The centre’s establishment has been initiated by the faculty, and its resources and modelling outputs will be available to PhD candidates, post- and undergraduates as they become available. The centre is funded directly by UNSW.
Professor Zlatanova said the scarcity of current 3D indoor models for large buildings and offices could cause complications for stakeholders, particularly for those working in safety management of public spaces.
“The first projects will look at navigation between indoor and outdoor space, how people enter and exit buildings, 3D analysis of shadowing, and underground infrastructure, including pipelines, cables and electric wiring,” she said.
Professor Zlatanova said that as geospatial sciences proliferate, data and services they produce would form a backbone to future public services, and people would directly contribute to the collection of data in the way they used buildings and urban spaces.
Technology and software developed by the centre will be designed for use with existing 2D data on buildings and other urban infrastructure such as street furniture, traffic lights and terrain to create 3D digital models.
Professor Zlatanova has been hired to head the project under UNSW’s Strategic Hires and Retention Pathways (SHARP) program, UNSW’s 2025 program to position itself as a globally recognised institution. She is the first hire for the Faculty of the Built Environment under the SHARP program.