INVESTIGATING THE USE OF 3D GEOVISUALIZATIONS FOR URBAN DESIGN IN INFORMAL SETTLEMENT UPGRADING IN SOUTH AFRICA
Keywords: urban design, map reading, geovisualization, 3D, informal settlements, South Africa
Abstract. Informal settlements are a common occurrence in South Africa, and to improve in-situ circumstances of communities living in informal settlements, upgrades and urban design processes are necessary. Spatial data and maps are essential throughout these processes to understand the current environment, plan new developments, and communicate the planned developments. All stakeholders need to understand maps to actively participate in the process. However, previous research demonstrated that map literacy was relatively low for many planning professionals in South Africa, which might hinder effective planning. Because 3D visualizations resemble the real environment more than traditional maps, many researchers posited that they would be easier to interpret. Thus, our goal is to investigate the effectiveness of 3D geovisualizations for urban design in informal settlement upgrading in South Africa. We consider all involved processes: 3D modelling, visualization design, and cognitive processes during map reading. We found that procedural modelling is a feasible alternative to time-consuming manual modelling, and can produce high quality models. When investigating the visualization design, the visual characteristics of 3D models and relevance of a subset of visual variables for urban design activities of informal settlement upgrades were qualitatively assessed. The results of three qualitative user experiments contributed to understanding the impact of various levels of complexity in 3D city models and map literacy of future geoinformatics and planning professionals when using 2D maps and 3D models. The research results can assist planners in designing suitable 3D models that can be used throughout all phases of the process.