• AEROmetrex

    3D Map of Philadelphia for 2015 Papal Visit

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Project Summary


ESM Productions (ESM), a local company tasked with event planning for the Pope’s visit, retained AEROmetrex to help engineer the complex logistics for this historic event. Hosting the event required massive planning and coordination with municipal and state agencies, as well as with the U.S. Secret Service. To accommodate the 56,400 temporary structures needed, 33 miles of security barricade perimeter, and the impact of local road closures, while ensuring smooth traffic flow and seamless communication throughout the planning process and the event, ESM needed comprehensive, realistic, and integrated 3D modeling and simulation software. Watch this short video documentary of the scope and impact of the project.


Australian mapping leader, AEROmetrex, took high resolution aerial photographs of the city via helicopter, and using Bentley ContextCapture (formerly Acute3D), incorporated base imagery and ground footage to build a highly detailed, textured 3D reality mesh from 28,000 digital photographs. The precise model was used in MicroStation as the basis for the detailed layout and design of all the temporary facilities and barricades within the context of the reality mesh. Using LumenRT, the project team animated the model to simulate the expected operational experience and optimize decision making to ensure a safe and successful event.


Using Bentley reality modeling and simulation software dramatically reduced risk, enhanced decision making, improved timeliness, and optimized efficiency on this highly visible, fast-tracked project, while simultaneously supporting the extreme security workflows required. With this solution, ESM was able to estimate the impact of local road closures to ensure smooth traffic flow and seamless communication throughout the planning process of this event.The flexibility, interoperability, and accuracy of Bentley software accelerated stakeholder buy-in, ensuring the successful execution of one of the country’s largest public events.


ContextCapture automatically extracted the finest details from the high-resolution imagery captured by AEROmetrex to produce an accurate 3D reality mesh model of Philadelphia. ESM imported the mesh into MicroStation to add precise mapping data for the temporary structures, anticipate potential issues, and coordinate with all stakeholders. LumenRT was also used to enhance the 3D model, adding moving people, traffic, and dynamic sunlight to simulate the conditions during the event. The photogrammetric capabilities and interoperability of Bentley software improved collaboration and optimized planning and engineering.
  • AEROmetrex used Bentley ContextCapture to automatically generate a high-resolution 3D reality model of Philadelphia from 28,000 digital photographs to help ESM plan and engineer the successful execution of the 2015 Papal Visit.
  • A model was built of the interior of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul created from digital photographs taken with a simple, hand-held camera.
  • The extensive use of the visually realistic and dimensionally accurate 3D model by all stakeholders accelerated collaboration, enhanced decision making, and reduced risk.
  • Using ContextCapture in combination with MicroStation and LumenRT provided the modeling and simulation techniques to accommodate 56,400 temporary structures, 33 miles of security barricades, and special security requirements amid a busy urban infrastructure on a very tight timeline.
  • “The fact that we test drove it [ContextCapture] on a 60-acre site, just gives us all the confidence in the world that the next arena, opera house, convention center or 60-acre site that we choose to employ this tool will be successful again and again, and this will be a tool that we use many, many times in the future.”

    Scott Mirkin President and Executive Producer ESM Productions
  • “Bentley’s ContextCapture is an amazing piece of software. We were able to capture a detailed square mile of aerial photos supplemented by ground-based photography and automatically use them to produce a detailed 3D model of downtown Philadelphia.”

    David Byrne Technical Director AEROmetrex