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Rochester is building its own "Google Earth on steroids"

There's a lot going on in downtown Rochester these days.

A new bus barn is set to open next year, there are plans to fill in a section of the aging Inner Loop, and the redevelopment of the former Midtown Plaza is slowly taking shape.

So to keep up with what may or may not come to pass, the city of Rochester is tapping a local engineering firm to build them a powerful new tool: detailed 3D modeling software that lets planners zoom around a Rochester of the future.

"To be able to put all the projects that have happened and all the ones that are going to happen into a single place and to fly somebody through our downtown is a very powerful tool," says Michael Ross, the project's technical lead at Bergmann Associates.

Ross says the 3D software is like "Google Earth on steroids."

Using GIS data, planners can input past development and future plans to create a comprehensive model of downtown Rochester and outlying areas.

Ross hopes the city will incorporate the visualization technology - based on video game design software - into public hearings. The goal is to help "people to understand where the city's heading," Ross says.

"It's an exciting time for Rochester," says Ross. "And this makes a very clear picture of how things are going to be laid out in the future."

Test drive

You can take a look at the new mapping software below.

The final product won't be complete until March 2012, according to Bergmann Associates. But Mayor Tom Richards used a similar Rochester flyover at a recent presentation.

It includes an expanded downtown branch of Monroe Community College as well as an optimistic sketch of TBD development at Midtown.

The question is: What will escape the virtual and actually become reality?

WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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