RDV Systems: A First Look
Roopinder Tara posted on January 09, 2017 |
ENGINEERING.com takes a first look at RDV Systems, a visualization software for civil engineering.

If you want to show your next roadway design, or other civil engineering project, on the Web and let everyone interact with it in 3D, RDV Systems may be your new best friend.

While not quite up to par with what you have seen in the movie theater, RDV does an admirable job of taking raw CAD models and letting you fly around a scene, complete with moving cars, leaves on the trees, people walking—close to the future you have imagined for your design but now shareable with those that need to be brought up to speed on the extent of your genius. In a way that CAD, or ordinary fly-throughs cannot, RDV enables your audience — whether this is the urban planner, your boss, the head of the Department of Transportation (DoT), any of a number of less-gifted individuals, can now move around your project, imagine themselves in it or over it, love it and ultimately sign off on it.

What It Does

RDV, short for Rapid Design Visualization, can take not only CAD files, but also scenes from Google Earth, 3D scan data, foliage and people from model libraries to complete the virtual 3D scene. Revit and MicroStation input is common, but many other data formats can also be read in, including SketchUp, Civil 3D and AutoCAD.

Who's Using It?

City of Hartford, Conn., plans to modernize an interstate that goes through its downtown and is using RDV Systems to visualize possible plans. (Image courtesy of www.i84hartford.com.)
City of Hartford, Conn., plans to modernize an interstate that goes through its downtown and is using RDV Systems to visualize possible plans. (Image courtesy of www.i84hartford.com.)

RDV Systems is already in use by several state departments of transportation, including the Connecticut DoT, Florida DoT, New Jersey DoT, Maine DoT and North Carolina DoT as well as regions from San Diego to New England. For example, RDV has been used on the I-84 project. In what may be the most ambitious of all projects with which RDV is involved, Connecticut has modeled theI-84 corridor modernization as it winds through downtown Hartford, with options that go from an elevated roadway to one that is completely underground in a suburban tunnel. By the time it is finished, it could cost over $10 billion. On its site, where the RDV 3D model is featured front and center, you can “drive” down the highway and gaze around the tall buildings nearby, down at a baseball field or under sunny skies. Served up to the public, Connecticut uses it to show their tax dollars at work, in a manner far superior—and more interactively—than the usual series of artist depictions on foam core at town hall meetings. Anyone who has used Google Earth will soon be able to zoom in and out, pan, fly or drive through Hartford using a mouse. A handy inset screen shows preset views.

Used as much as a PR tool as an engineering one, the moribund scenes of the present day, aging interstate with crumbling roadway, rusty steel and foreboding underpasses, are transformed under blue skies with puffy clouds, parks with flowers in full bloom and a healthy citizenry on new bike paths. Who would not buy into a project like that? Especially when it is so much fun to interact with Dolio Kafri, RDV's Vice President of Sales, insists that creating the models is easy “It is very straight-forward. With one hour of training, our customers can create unlimited interactive videos off the 3D models. Training for a Microstation or Civil 3D operator to create a 3D model is about one week."


RDV maintains the 123BIM.com website to host 3D project models. Browser-based and in the cloud, it requires no installation and can be used with any mobile device to view and interact with a 3D scene. You can send your project to 123BIM.com so everyone has access to it. The conversion from CAD to an RDV model is done on cloud processors.

How Much?

Sold using a software-as-a- service, or SaaS, model, 123BIM.com starts with the “Silver” plan at $400/month per seat for up to two users. There is a $500 setup fee. Using the publishing tool, which requires paying for use of 123BIM.com, costs $400 a month with a setup fee of $500. A “Gold” plan for 123BIM.com accommodates eight users and has a $1,000 setup fee. The publishing tool adds $700 a month and requires an additional$1,000 setup fee. The top-of-the-line “Platinum” plan can have 20 users and requires a $1,200 setup fee, with publishing adding an additional$1,200 a month. Annual discounts are available.

The Company

Born out of the hot Israeli startup boom in 2005, RDV's software development is based in Tel Aviv; North America operations are in Manchester, N.H. and a new sales and marketing office opened in New York City late last year. RDV Systems is headed mostly by Israeli executives with a good deal of civil engineering and CAD experience. Its most recent round of funding, $1 million by Hong Kong's Glodon Software, is meant to increase the company's footprint in the North American market. In addition to software, the company also provides modeling and visualization services to the architecture, engineering and construction community.

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