On my morning commute I read about Betaville - "an open-source multiplayer environment for real cities, in which ideas for new works of public art, architecture, urban design, and development can be shared, discussed, tweaked, and brought to maturity in context, and with the kind of broad participation people take for granted in open source software development."
From what I read it seems to provide a platform for any interested party to provide a model of their urban design and see how it fits within the surrounding environment. It also supports discussion and collaboration between parties so potentially multiple iterations of a design can be undertaken (at a low cost) before the formal planning and design process begins. It can take models from tools such as Sketchup and Maya.
Blom CGR, the Italian subsidiary of Blom ASA, has partnered with the Saudi Arabian firm Unicom to secure a contract with the Development Commission of Medina (DCOM). The contract involves providing professional services for the production of base maps and 3D modelling of the city of Medina in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Blom's advanced capture technologies will produce accurate and high resolution data; the deliverables consist of LiDAR, aerial photo and BlomOBLIQUE™. Blom's data will form a unique geospatial base in DCOMs sophisticated database sharing service, providing an encompassing solution.
"Blom is proud to have been awarded this first contract in conjunction with Unicom. The data we will make available for the Development Commission of Medina will provide a fantastic return on investment when used for Urban Planning." said Giovanni Banchini, Country Manager of Blom CGR
Blom's share of the contract is NOK 8 million. The contract will be completed within 4th quarter 2012.