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Digital scanning keeps Venice out of the water

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Digital scanning keeps Venice out of the water
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It is one of the most incredible cities in the world, but Venice’s beauty is in danger of being lost.

The city is under a two-pronged attack; sinking ground and rising water levels make flooding more and more common. But now, for the first time, Venice is being mapped using 3D digital technology.

RAMSES is an advanced tool which should predict which parts of the city are at risk and when and how to react.

Insula Project Director, Rudj Maria Todaro, explains: “The project basically allows us to see – in a more detailed and appropriate way – the state of the soil and pavements in central Venice. It is a mapping project and has a goal; the pin-pointing of a dense series of marks on the ground that will allow us to draw up a map that is accurate to one centimetre.

“It is first time laser-scanning technology has been used over the whole city, or such a large area.”

Until last year, updated maps were the only source of information about the pavements and roads in Venice. The database was incomplete and was only detailed to 10 centimetres.

RAMSES creates a high definition network, with 2,500 single points per square metre – that is how such detailed maps will be able to be created.

A team of technicians has spent two years scanning the city. They have carried out 22,000 scans to date, gathering enough data to create a model that is fully intergrated with GPS systems.

Venice is acting like a laboratory for these new technologies.

“We have laid down 200 km of fibre optics across Venice, to link up a network of more than 170 public offices. In addition, we have based 200 wi-fi hotspots, on the mainland and also in the centre,” said Maurizio Carlin of the Digital Citizenship Project.

Intergrating RAMSES with the wi-fi network means people can access precise information in real-time, when floods threaten.

The project site already shows reccommended itineries for when the tide rises, several hours in advance.

This service comes from a partnership between RAMSES and the centre for the Prediction of High Waters, an office that has been analysing the weather and its effect on the lagoon since the early 1970s.

Says the centre’s Paolo Canestrari: “With Ramses we created a direct link, specifically about the town’s altimetry. So we can guarantee that the information about the flood levels we distribute is precise enough to put the flood catwalks in the right place, at the right moment anywhere in the centre of the city.”

RAMSES is very much an ongoing project and will be regularly updated according to Todaro.

“We are already working on creating an application for urban mobility that will be able to deliver information to anyone who has to cross the town, giving them the specific points of reference that are available. And eventually they will be able to access this on the Internet,” he said.