The Geo-Database

Most of the time in a noise mapping project is spent assembling the model from various sources. In SoundPLAN, the Geo-Database is the central data assembly and editing facility. Noise models created in the GeoDatabase are saved to the hard disk, the calculations reads the data and computes the noise levels that the Result Files, Spreadsheet and Graphics then process further. The GeoDatabase is a separate program which allows SoundPLAN users to enter and edit data while calculations are in progress. Having separate programs that closely cooperate also allows that the program to have all data manipulation functions specially designed for the tasks that need to be done. The controls for the GeoDatabase are geared for data entry and the verification of the model while the Graphic is focused on creating stunning plots with minimal time spent configuring them.

Geo-Files and Situations

SoundPLAN is designed to handle multiple variations scenarios or divide a bigger study area into smaller units. Regardless how you want to organize your project, SoundPLAN has the capabilities for multiple scenarios that in SoundPLAN are called Situations; the data objects themselves are hosted in Geo-Files. The Situation Manager is the administration unit to manager these Situations and Geo-Files. Create new (or copy and customize) Situations and add content by dragging Geo-Files from the Geo-Files pool to the Situation and dropping it there. Rename Situations, Duplicate Situations, Delete Situations right here in the Situation Manager. Similar for Geo-Files.  Furthermore the setup and management of the Tiling is done in the Situation Manager (requires the Noise Mapping Toolbox).

The basic functions

The GeoDatabse editor has multiple places where you can control different parts of the editing process. Everything is guided, no cryptic keywords required but shortcuts are available.

 

 

The menu is controlling the basic functionality of the GeoDatabase with FILE EDIT VIEW FUNDAMENTALS GEO-TOOLS TOOLS DOCUMENTATION OPTIONS WINDOW HELP controls. More details are below.

 

The Situation was opened in the Situation Manager but it is possible to request new Geo-Files directly in the editing mode. The highlighted Geo-Files is the file that will host new objects are the are created. It is also possible to change the fill association later. Delete, highlight, save, lock are other actions.

For a noise model, different types of objects are required:

  • General objects (points, lines, photo object...)

  • Sources for industry noise and transportation noise

  • Environment to enter noise protection walls, spot elevations, buildings, terrain roughness...

  • Receivers to define point receivers, calculation areas and lines for the cross-sectional noise map

  • Indoor sources and obstacles

  • Objects used in Aircraft Noise

  • Tools for all sort of stuff

SoundPLAN can create and save multiple view-ports with the situation. Click on a view and a user defined detail view will be visible. Zoom in Steps and Rotate your canvas.

 

Control your cursor to activate objects to edit them or to completely ignore existing objects to digitize new content, pan and zoom the view.

Also directly request that the next object to be generated is creating a line, rectangle or circle.

 

 

 

 

Import your data into the model and it will show up on the drawing canvas. As objects are made up of coordinates and attributes, there are different controls to access them. Left click on an object will open the attributes for editing while the right click will offer a menu with more controls, amongst them an option to get to the coordinate level.

 

Last not least there is an information bar to show the coordinates and if activated the object that is currently active.

Data entry

SoundPLAN data are made up of coordinates and attributes. Coordinates are X, Y and H (height above sea level). When getting data to be imported into SoundPLAN always ask about the definition of he coordinate system, if it differs from the coordinate or reference system you are using, SoundPLAN can rectify this with a coordinate system transformation.

The attribute definition is specific to the object type and often also to the standard used for the calculation. Roads have different requirement if they modeled in accordance to TNM than if CoRTN is used.

New objects can be generated by digitizing on the canvas on top of a bitmap or by hooking up a digitizing tablet or by importing the object from file. If data are imported, they can appear from various types of input files. ASCII files are lists of coordinates, usually this is done for elevation data. DXF is the structured data exchange to get data from AutoCAD, here only the coordinates are available but the data can maintain their structure by converting layers into Geo-Files. This way you can convert the layer for buildings into the SoundPLAN structure while getting rid of the layer that contains bushes and trees.

The import/export of Shape Files is a module of its own and therefore has a separate description.

 

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The import, filtering and processing of elevation data

SoundPLAN not only has the capability to import data from other sources, it is also possible to take a bitmap and digitize on top of the bitmap. All that is required is that you know at least 2 coordinates in the bitmap. On the left you see the bitmap calibration in progress with a smaller window from the "regular" GeoDatabase. On the bottom of the calibration there is a table with the coordinate correspondence, the left part is the bitmap coordinate with X and Y, the right hand side shows the "world" coordinates with X and Y. You enter for at least 2 coordinate pairs the world coordinates and point on the bitmap where they are and click, the rest is done by SoundPLAN.

After selecting the bitmap, you can digitize the objects with X and Y, the elevations should come from the meshed DGM. In our example the bitmap was a colored plan from city planning of the city of Backnang, the host city to the SoundPLAN development office. For the most part it is easier on the eyes to use a gray scale plan for digitizing on screen.

If you already have geo-referenced bitmaps, copy the bitmap and the geo-reference into your project and you do not have to calibrate the bitmap. (if both coordinate systems are the same)

For more pictures and details click go to the Highlights page/Model Generation and Data Processing

 

Digitizing on top of a bitmap

SoundPLAN not only has the capability to import data from other sources, it is also possible to take a bitmap and digitize on top of the bitmap. All that is required is that you know at least 2 coordinates in the bitmap. On the left you see the bitmap calibration in progress with a smaller window from the "regular" GeoDatabase. On the bottom of the calibration there is a table with the coordinate correspondence, the left part is the bitmap coordinate with X and Y, the right hand side shows the "world" coordinates with X and Y. You enter for at least 2 coordinate pairs the world coordinates and point on the bitmap where they are and click, the rest is done by SoundPLAN.

After selecting the bitmap, you can digitize the objects with X and Y, the elevations should come from the meshed DGM. In our example the bitmap was a colored plan from city planning of the city of Backnang, the host city to the SoundPLAN development office. For the most part it is easier on the eyes to use a gray scale plan for digitizing on screen.

If you already have geo-referenced bitmaps, copy the bitmap and the geo-reference into your project and you do not have to calibrate the bitmap. (if both coordinate systems are the same)

 

Connection to Google Earth

From the 32 bit version of SoundPLAN you have a direct connection to get Google Earth bitmaps.

If you have defined the coordinate system in SoundPLAN to be in the list of transformable coordinate systems, you can launch Google Earth directly from the GeoDatabase and import a bitmap that is already geo-referenced.

As long as Google Earth is only available as a 32 bit program unfortunately this feature is only available from the 32 bit version of SoundPLAN, for the 64 bit version of SoundPLAN, you can import the bitmap but do not have the direct link.

 

Terrain Points from Google Earth

Not only bitmaps can be obtained from Google Earth but also terrain points. On the left, terrain points in the Murr valley in the city of Backnang was imported directly from Google Earth and then turned into a DGM which was visualized with Ctrl F10 in the GeoDatabase.

The elevation model is helping you to get an understanding of the terrain but as the resolution of terrain points is fixed and it is not known how the data were interpolated it is of questionable value to build an entire model upon.

Google Earth has restrictions of the usage of their web based products, you are responsible for not violating their copyright when you use bitmaps and elevations commercially.

 

View and Selection Tools

When you enter data regardless if imported from file or digitized, you need to be able to check and edit the data. In order to do that you need to be able to select the objects and the view. In the GeoDatabase there are many selection tools, some are basic some a bit more in depth. The most basic tool is to have the right mouse button pressed and pull a rectangle over the objects, this will select them for action (delete then will get rid of them). Many other selection tools you can find under the EDIT menu where you can select buildings if they are less than 2 meters (for example) tall or select objects that are having the elevation =0 (these are objects that need your attention). Complex selection tools allow you to digitize an area and select all data inside this area.

Now what if you want to select all buildings in an area? Then you need to first set the View to a single object type, select buildings and then select the buildings in the area you had already defined. Even if you activate all object types, only the buildings in your area will be selected.

There are many many options and possibilities to select your view, The picture on the left shows all the selections of what is visible and in which format. Site Map is the top view in 2D, Front Elevations and Side Elevations are projections of the data to check the elevations of your objects, 3D Wire Frame is a 3D non solid model and 3D Map is a 3D solid model.

To help navigate the data SoundPLAN offers specific controls object by object o Geo-File by Geo-File. See the controls below. You can hide and lock certain objects or display them as background data with gray lines where you know where they are but they will not picked up when digitizing new content. This function is particularly useful when entering industrial sources in and on factory buildings where you have many coordinates already in place.

Geometry Tools

After you select objects you can start manipulating them. Mark one or multiple objects and use the mouse to move the object or group of objects, if you add the control key, you rotate the object and if you add the Alt key you create and move a duplicate. These are simple geometry tools!

Another simple control is used after you have created your DGM and then imported objects with H=0. Mark the objects and use the EDIT function Coordinate Operation to set the height for the objects to be on top of the DGM with the statement H=DGM.

More complicated ones are to create parallel objects, filter and interpolate line type objects, create buffers around them etc. Some tools are specific to certain object types such as the controls for buildings and elevations.

If you had the raw elevations from an aerial survey that represent the top of surfaces from the top view and your buildings are already defined with their coordinates but have no information about the height of the building, you can use the imported elevations to have the height of all buildings computed at once.

Control of the Objects Attributes

In SoundPLAN attributes of some line type objects are administered on a coordinate by coordinate basis. This has the advantage that you can define a road, enter the number of vehicles on the first coordinate and at the next intersection change the number of vehicles and the number of trucks but maintain the integrity of the entire object. At any given coordinate of a road you can re-define any of the parameters such as vehicle numbers, speed, road surface, road width etc., still the road is maintained as a single object. This has big advantages when you want to calculate the noise and want to see which part of the noise originates from road xyz. You do not have to manually add multiple contributions, the road was entered as a road and the results still reflect this.

Left click on a road or railway object and change the attributes that are valid from that coordinate on.

One of the great editing possibilities for objects and their attributes its the Attribute Explorer. It allows the user to pick one object type and list all objects (or if some were selected only the selected objects) in one spreadsheet. On the left you see the attribute Explorer for buildings and the buildings are sorted in accordance to how many floors the buildings have. An easy way to find buildings that have the number of floors set to 0. (imported data but not fully defined).

The Attribute Explorer not only has viewing functions but also offers the possibility to do calculations with the numbers. This can come handy when we need to calculate the number of square meters of living space and distribute the number of residents in accordance to the number of square meters of living space.

For other objects such as the roads the Attribute Explorer is very helpful in estimating future noise levels. If we state that most residential roads will remain about the same in the future but the arterial roads will see an increase of 5.4% then we can apply this factor directly in the Attribute Explorer.

 

 

 

 

 

This description of the GeoDatabase is by no means complete and cannot substitute for our handbook. It is a superficial view of the capabilities of the GeoDatabase and is supposed to make your decision for SoundPLAN easier. We feel that the SoundPLAN software is second to none and offers more editing flexibility and options than any other comparable product, the GeoDatabase is a central part of this assessment.

Copyright 2014 SoundPLAN international LLC, Shelton, WA 98584, USA