V2i Group/ V2i Realtime
Creating Common Visual Languages
Business View Oceania interviews Luke Brannelly, Managing Director of V2i Group, for our Technology View.
V2i (Vision 2 Implementation) is Australia’s visionary player in the development and implementation of 3D visualisation as an essential planning, design, communication, and engagement tool across a wide range of global industries. Following their inception in 2002, V2i Group quickly forged an international reputation as a pioneer in master planning and urban design. Today, the company works to provide a range of technologies, products, and services centred around the power and potential of visual literacy for industry-related outcomes.
Managing Director Luke Brannelly has over four decades of experience in master planning and urban design- a journey that began with his graduation from the University of Queensland in 1986. Mr. Brannelly shares, “As I worked in integrated resorts and lifestyle communities across Asia from the mid to late nineties, I realised that there were some pretty significant obstacles working against our global collaborations, namely language and technical knowledge barriers that were impeding our ability to communicate. So, rather than waste time sending out drawings and reports that often required third parties to understand, we began to develop and use 3D animation and visualisation tools to communicate our ideas. When we started to see the results of this in action, it was obvious that the new approach was far more effective than what we’d been doing traditionally. That’s what clued me on to the power of visual language.
Nowadays, solving problems in an interactive digital twin world is so much cheaper and faster than solving them in the real world, or even worse, once construction starts. Just like it is easier to discuss a physical space with someone who has already been there, using spatially accurate virtual environments makes sharing design ideas faster than presenting those same outcomes with drawings and reports to a group of people.”
V2i began using EPIC’s Unreal Engine platform approximately eight years ago to transform the way industry understands data and encourage the use of interactive visualisation as more than just a sales and marketing tool. Born out of that commitment was the ground-breaking V2i Realtime. Mr. Brannelly explains, “We have industries that are so full of technical drawings and reports that are little understood. Often company decision makers aren’t subject matter experts or have limited technical understanding. V2i Realtime gives them the tools to deeply understand the context behind their plans or investments and make better informed decisions as a result. Our technology is introduced as early on in the product lifecycle as possible for optimal planning and communication and to enable our clients to understand outcomes early on. By helping them make better decisions from the start, we prevent a lot of back and forth in design, testing and prototyping, which saves time and money. We work to lead them on a journey of how technology can truly transform the way we do business, make decisions, save time and money, and understand what a particular issue is about from day one in the project lifecycle- and it’s all enabled by these emerging visual based technologies.”
V2i Realtime uses EPIC’s Unreal Engine in collaboration with geospatial data specialists Cesium and Amazon Web Services to allow clients to walk, fly, measure, and understand their projects and their environments with interactive 3D technology, using nothing more than the web browser on consumer devices (Example Link: https://youtu.be/DySZL-aoD04). Participants are able to walk together in a virtual space and take control of their surroundings, which is based on project data and real-world capture, consolidated into a single, accurate environment. Benefits include increased engagement, improved understanding, significant savings in time and money, real time communication, project-specific solutions, data-driven insights, efficient communication, collateral generation, and the ability to derive all media outputs from a single 3D environment controlled by the client and supported by V2i.
V2i Realtime’s offering has won a plethora of awards, with just a few examples being Telstra’s 2022 Best of Business Award (Finalist- Embracing Innovation), UDIA Queensland’s 2020 Wildcard Award (Winner), and the Property Council of Australia’s 2019 Innovation & Excellence Award (Finalist). The in-house production team behind V2i has also been recognised by the 2017 and 2018 iAwards (Research and Development Project of the Year) for solving the various technical challenges that made it all possible.
Some noteworthy project examples include the previously mentioned Cross River Rail digital twin, a Brisbane-wide V2i Realtime model Queensland’s highest priority infrastructure project. The digital twin for this project is based on a regional digital terrain and photogrammetry model, including the entire Brisbane CBD and surrounding suburbs, with 10.2km of proposed rail line, 5.9km of tunnel and all proposed underground stations and associated above-ground co-developments in full visual detail (Case Study Link: https://v2irealtime.com/case-study/cross-river-rail/).
Another high profile virtual rail project in full swing has been developed in response to a tender request for a digital twin of the planned Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 4 extension by the Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads (Case Study Link: https://v2irealtime.com/case-study/gclr4/), extensively used for design consultation and political as well as community stakeholder engagement. Another division of the same department engaged V2i in early 2020 to assist with internal stakeholder and business case discussions, at a state and federal level, for the proposed Coomera Connector M1 highway duplication (https://youtu.be/R9xuLxQlPGY), Queensland largest road project, with nearly 50 kilometres of road infrastructure design affecting a great number of local stakeholders with regional connectivity implications.
Not limited to large infrastructure projects, V2i is also effective for community precinct projects, such as for Birkdale near Brisbane, by creating a fully detailed interactive 3D digital precinct twin outcome based on no more than traditional 2D site plans, reference images and a preliminary mass earthworks model (Project video: https://youtu.be/wYdXFaC5ZsY). Created in just four weeks without any face-to-face meetings, output like this help ensure that the impacted community plays an integral and is part of shaping a place with a space for everyone, including the Olympic Kayaking facility for the 2032 Olympic Games, which is part of this planned precinct.
How this methodology applies to the private property development sector has recently been highlighted in an article published by technology partner Cesium with the example of Lendlease’s Figtree Hill project near Sydney (Article link: (https://cesium.com/blog/2022/06/28/v2i-using-cesium-for-unreal-for-property-dev/). No matter where in the world, using geospatial base data such as the Cesium World Terrain is a game changer when it comes to creating virtual copies of the real world and can make all the difference to how well considered newly emerging communities will be.
Mr. Brannelly also sheds some light on the trials and tribulations faced by V2i Realtime. “We challenge the status quo of old paradigms and previously held beliefs and hypotheses involving the behaviour of decision makers, particularly in areas unfamiliar to them or in areas where they are not aware of the knowledge, beliefs, and values of others. In other words, we are providing a better way to help enable all stakeholders and decision-makers to have more meaningful and equitable discussions, leading to faster decisions, however, this process is far harder than it should be- experts seem to forget that their audience sometimes has no idea what they are trying to convey in this quite challenging and often political engagement process.
Our biggest challenge right now is showing decision makers the value of this technology as its own entity, rather than simply a product of gamification or visualisation. We reduce misunderstandings and omissions and the reliance on third parties to present outcomes, which can carry their own biases. The younger generation already sees this value; it will be them that takes it on and spurs development even further in the future. That future will be ground in visual, immersive learning, and the ability to connect and collaborate virtually, in real time, with the greatest minds around the world. We are already seeing utilisation in schools and workplaces- uptake will only continue to increase in the wake of COVID.”
Mr. Brannelly concludes with heartfelt thanks to his team. “I have always said that I have achieved very little as an individual. However, with the V2i Group team that I’ve been lucky enough to work with over the past 20 or so years, we have achieved some truly remarkable outcomes, and for me that is the secret of the essence of the company name, ‘Vision to Implementation’. Whilst I might have a vision of what we are trying to do and ideas around how we can implement and solve industry problems, it is only through the people around me, both within the organisation and the external advisors that the implementation of what we do becomes possible. It continually astounds me to see what this incredible bunch of guys and girls that I have had around me over the years can achieve.”
AT A GLANCE
What: Digital communicators using technology to reimagine project management
Where: V2i Group is headquartered on the Gold Coast, Australia