Digitally mapping the downtown

Contracted by the Manistee Main Street/Downtown Development Authority, companies Real3D Places and 3D Laser Advantage recently digitally mapped parts of downtown Manistee. (Courtesy photo)

Contracted by the Manistee Main Street/Downtown Development Authority, companies Real3D Places and 3D Laser Advantage recently digitally mapped parts of downtown Manistee. (Courtesy photo)

Millions of lasers make a map that could assist DDA with development projects

MANISTEE — Those around Manistee may not have seen it, but there were millions of lasers flying around downtown throughout this week.

The lasers were used by firms Real3D Places and 3D Laser Advantage to digitally map parts of Washington and River streets for future use in Manistee Main Street/Downtown Development Authority projects.

“It’s a fantastic tool, and it seems like most of the DDA members are really getting behind it,” said Ken Cummings, owner of Manistee-based company Real3D Places. “Once you are able to build a city model in 3D, there are a lot of different things you can do with it. You can use it for engineering purposes, obviously, architecture, but there’s also a simulation aspect to it.

“What we are doing now with the laser scan is really setting up the foundation to do all of these other things,” Cummings said. “It’s really nice to see Manistee leading the way in this effort.”

With the 3D map, the DDA will be able to visualize proposed changes to the downtown and allow prospective visitors to take a virtual “walking tour” on the DDA’s webpage. The map could be used for the facade grant program and for planned restoration projects by cutting and pasting existing structures with proposed concepts.

“If you’re sitting there with a pen and ink, it’s a bit laborious and not quite as compelling,” Cummings said. “With a 3D model, once you have the face of that building, you are able to make changes very quickly from any angle and any distance.

“The beauty of the whole thing is that it removes perception from the whole equation,” Cummings said.

The firms use a FARO scanner that fires millions of lasers in all directions to conduct measurements, down to a fraction of an inch in accuracy. The lasers reflect off of all surfaces and the scanner captures their intensity upon return to gather distance information. From there, the scanner takes a photograph to give the measurements color.

Ken Cummings, (left) owner of Real3D Places and Steve Schuchard, co-owner of 3d Laser Advantage, recently mapped parts of downtown Manistee as part of a Manistee Main Street/Downtown Development Authority project. (Eric Sagonowsky/News Advocate)

Ken Cummings, (left) owner of Real3D Places and Steve Schuchard, co-owner of 3d Laser Advantage, recently mapped parts of downtown Manistee as part of a Manistee Main Street/Downtown Development Authority project. (Eric Sagonowsky/News Advocate)

Each scan takes eight minutes to complete and can measure up to 100 yards away. The data can also be attached with GPS information, and could be integrated into the City of Manistee’s geographic information services system.

Cummings and Steve Schuchard, co-owner of 3D Laser Advantage, spent much of Wednesday and part of Thursday taking 3D scans of the south end of Washington Street, the Manistee Riverwalk and portions of River Street. The DDA paid $3,200 for eight hours of scanning, and the two were able to conduct about 60 scans.

The FARO scanner used to map downtown Manistee this week sends out millions of lasers to create a 3D model of the area it scans.

The FARO scanner used to map downtown Manistee this week sends out millions of lasers to create a 3D model of the area it scans.

The DDA members chose Washington Street to assist with development projects unfinished condo structure on Manistee River and the North Channel Outlet building.

“Once we see how this plays out, we would eventually like to do a lot more of the entire downtown,” said DDA director Patrick Kay. “I think the sky is the limit in terms of what we can use this program for.”

Cummings said that on a visitors’ virtual walking tour, they will be able to point and click on buildings to pull up a store’s website or building information, whatever is implanted in the data. There could also be a hands-off autotour function for people less comfortable with the technology.

With the data collected this week, the DDA will have a base to start on its downtown digital mapping. In total, mapping the downtown would take six full days of scanning.

3D Laser Advantage, owned by Steve Schuchard and Larry Louzon, has 15 years of 3D scanning experience. Cummings started Real3D Places in 2008 and subsequently partnered with Schuchard and Louzon. Real3D Places is based locally and has done work in Manistee, California, New York and at golf courses around Michigan.

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Posted by Eric Sagonowsky

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