• African Consulting Surveyors and SMEC

    N1 Freeway Upgrade Mobile Laser Scanning Survey

    Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Project Summary


The USD 30 million project required African Consulting Surveyors (ACS) to survey a 30-kilometer stretch of road infrastructure along Cape Town’s N1 freeway so SMEC could design the expansion to accommodate four lanes of traffic. The survey was completed using laser scanning technology that included LiDAR, terrestrial, and mobile scanning to capture the data containing billions of laser points needing manipulation to generate an accurate model for detailed design. To combine the data into a single point cloud, create detailed models, and share the files in different formats with various end users, ACS needed flexible, interoperable modeling and analysis tools.


Combining Bentley Navigator, Pointools, and MicroStation with Terrasolid’s TerraScan, the team had technology that could handle the level of detail required to manipulate the billions of laser points. Once ACS classified the ground and surface points, they used Bentley PowerCivil for South Africa to create thinned road and ground surfaces and converted the generated surfaces into GEOPAK, InRoads, and OpenRoads model formats for direct use by SMEC. Bentley technologies allowed the designers to view, edit, and utilize the point clouds effectively for accurate highway design without acquiring alternative software.


Using Bentley technology enabled designers to effectively manage and manipulate the geospatially correct laser point cloud for their specific discipline, and exchange survey data with MicroStation’s wide range of supported file formats, facilitating collaboration, reducing errors, improving design quality, and minimizing expensive construction errors. The ability of Bentley’s collaborative modeling platform to effortlessly process the billions of laser points and produce accurate 3D models saved significant time, minimized risk, and reduced design and construction costs for a highway expansion expected to improve travel time and reduce accidents.


MicroStation’s ability to reference point clouds was used extensively during the 3D model generation to create 3D solids and surfaces of the road furniture, structures, bridges, and culverts. The 3D models and point clouds were delivered in i-model, DWG, and DGN formats for various end users allowing them to view the data from their iPads using Bentley Navigator Mobile. The flexibility, interoperability, and information mobility of Bentley applications enabled the project team to manipulate the laser scanning survey data to optimize design and accelerate project deliverables without acquiring alternative technologies.

  • Leveraging Bentley software with detailed laser scanning survey technology, ACS and SMEC manipulated billions of laser points to produce a realistic 3D model of Cape Town’s N1 highway expansion, significantly saving time, and reducing costs.
  • With MicroStation’s wide range of supported file formats, the various design disciplines seamlessly exchanged data facilitating collaboration and enabling informed decision making to optimize design and construction.
  • The flexibility and interoperability of Bentley technology enhanced information mobility providing visualizations of the USD 30 million four-lane freeway to end users without requiring specialized software.

  • “Bentley’s technology allows users in all phases of the project lifecycle, including survey, optioneering, design, construction, maintenance, and operations, to effectively manage and utilize the geospatially correct laser point cloud in their particular discipline. This enables informed decision making and improved design, which reduces costs and optimizes project expenditure.”

    Brett Forbes Business Development Director ACS