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3D Mapping as an Economic Development Tool to Redevelop East St. Louis
Last year, the City of East St. Louis embarked on a journey to see how it could use innovative technologies to spur economic development. The outcome of this journey came in the form of an interactive 3D map. Working with CyberCity 3D, a firm that specializes in the production of 3D digital building models, the City was able to have an interactive, publicly available 3D map created to use as a tool to market the City’s assets. The 3D map is currently showcased on the landing page of the City’s website.
As the City of East St. Louis works toward a vision for comprehensive economic development, the 3D map will allow the City to better understand its built environment while setting the stage for future development projects. The map gives users the ability to highlight building landscapes from the perspective of 3D smart buildings in relation to the surrounding environment. This gives a realistic view of the variety of buildings available in the City while highlighting the infrastructure necessary for businesses to thrive. Understanding the geospatial component of the City will position the City to be more competitive to developers by letting them know that not only is East St. Louis a strategic investment from a location perspective; this city is on the horizon and open for business.
The 3D map may be most useful for potential developers, who can use it to visualize the environmental context within which a proposed project will operate, allowing them to see what East St. Louis has to offer from the comfort of their own office. As many people know, traditional economic development is all about strategic geographic investments – i.e. location, location, location! The 3D Map will give developers a sense of the size and depth of the land and real estate available in the city, as well as the proximity of a specific proposed development to transit options such as the four major highways surrounding East St. Louis, the Mississippi River, nearby airports, and available public transportation options – all important things to consider when investing in a location.
The map is a particularly wise investment for East St. Louis because five of its geographic areas were recently designated as Opportunity Zones by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Almost all of these Opportunity Zones are located in the geographic areas where the City’s economic development priorities lie. The public can now see whether a proposed project will be located in an eligible area to receive incentives.
In addition to allowing potential developers to visualize the city’s assets, the 3D map will allow government officials, the public, and investors to begin thinking about how innovative technologies can be utilized for, by, and in collaboration with cities that are economically disinvested. For many years, the City of East St. Louis has been the victim of industrial decline, economic disinvestment, and residential flight. Many people don’t expect the City of East St. Louis to be innovative and creative. As one of the only local government entities in the area that showcases its assets using 3D mapping, East St. Louis is showing those people that they too can consider ways of using innovative technologies to advance the city’s development priorities.
East. St. Louis remains a city rich in cultural history, artistic talent, and innovative opportunities. The City envisions being a place on the cutting edge of innovation. This 3D map is one step in the right direction, and the City plans to continue its use of the 3D map in future city planning services to support public safety, housing, and community economic development.
Juwanna N. Brown
Project Coordinator, Community & Economic Development
View the new 3D map of East St. Louis!