Interactive generative tools for decision support

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RCD’s Footbridge Layout Early Assessment (FLEA) tool is an interactive client-focussed App which was developed rapidly in the space of just two weeks in order to address a specific project’s needs.

The context of the project was a busy public road and complex junction separating one of our client’s buildings from the rest of their campus.  The need had been identified for a footbridge to provide a safe and secure route for their staff to move between the two sides, but the precise location and alignment of this new bridge was not yet fixed.

To aid with the decision-making process RCD, in close collaboration with bridge engineers in our London and Southampton offices, developed a small generative App that would allow exploration of the various options.  The tool allows the client to simply click and drag to move the bridge ends.  The structure between these two points is generated, following various set-out rules coded into the software.

 

A simple static analysis is performed by the tool itself, which allows key members to be automatically sized.  Complementing this was a series of far more detailed studies done by our bridge engineers on a range of geometries within the continuum of possible options.  By using these data points as a guide, we were able to have the tool calculate and display in real-time an estimation of the overall structural tonnage for any arrangement the client cared to investigate, which we could be confident would be accurate.

Typically, a structural engineer might investigate only two or three different options in such a study.  By instead developing a bespoke tool that could interactively analyse any potential arrangement we were able to be far more analogue and put the client firmly back in the driving seat.