Architects and structural engineering consultants already have the raw materials to model safe reopening and enable buildings to manage the process as numbers and government guidelines evolve. Existing CAD assets can be used quickly to build 3D models for pedestrian simulation and visualisation; and Oasys MassMotion proximity modelling enables them to offer a value-added service throughout the long tail of the COVID-19 crisis.
As we emerge from the initial shock of total lockdown, the realisation that beating COVID-19, or at least mitigating its threat, is likely to be a very long haul is sinking in. Certainly, we all know now that the return to work, entertainment and normal life is going to be very much a learning process not an event, with messages from government and “the science” far from clear.
None of that detracts from their duty to the business bottom line. Facilities, be they offices, theme parks or whole town centres need to get back to work. They need the tools to help them reopen safely, and to stay safe as more of us re-define what a normal lifestyle is – and architects and engineers have them at their disposal.
How can we help facilities owners and managers to plan the process and manage their premises most effectively? They will have big investments in these properties and need to make the assets work for them.
We are hearing daily reports of how buildings are coping with the challenge of maintaining social distancing to manage limited reopening, but rarely does this go far beyond the basics of dividing space to maintain the current social distancing guidelines. It gives a good indication of what levels of occupancy are achievable but, as anyone who has worked on such project will tell you, it is time consuming, and involves a lot of sticky tape, signage and work that can be meaningless if you wake up tomorrow morning and the guidelines have changed again.
What we also know, after decades of academic study on pedestrian movement, is that people’s behaviour changes in relation to the crowd density. It’s not a simple linear relationship crowd behaviour, so scaling up is not straightforward.
Having realised that this scenario would emerge early in the piece, Oasys Software accelerated development of new MassMotion pedestrian simulation tools to offer proximity modelling. Using 3D models built using existing CAD assets, this powerful software, which was originally developed for major Arup infrastructure projects, can quickly reveal where high-risk proximity is most likely. Once the model is built, it is remarkably easy to test the effects of adding more people, adjusting one-way systems, opening new access routes, or changing safe distances parameters.
MassMotion is easy for architects and engineers to understand, and they are usually able to use it competently within a day. As such it offers them a new opportunity to add an essential new post-pandemic service to their offer.