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A Smart Approach to Transformation

Trimble’s Mobile Mapping Helps Drive Vietnam’s Smart City Strategy

In 2018, Vietnam’s Prime Minister issued a governmental policy to implement the Sustainable Smart City Development Project, encouraging provinces and cities to transform themselves into smart cities by 2030. Today, there are more than 40 cities, large and small, that have smart cities initiatives and programs in progress. 

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), which has a population of more than 10 million people, was one of the first to commit to transforming itself into a smart city by 2025. Under the initiative, a database of all sectors, ranging from housing, transport and environment to healthcare, will share data with all of the city’s administrative departments, enabling them to create smart services that will make HCMC a livable, sustainable, and innovative city. The citywide, comprehensive database also serves as the foundation for meeting HCMC’s ultimate smart goal of building a “Digital Twin,” an entire 3D model of the city’s infrastructure. 

Creating such a database requires carefully and accurately surveying the city—a task that was assigned to Portcoast Consultant Corporation, one of Vietnam’s leading port and coastal surveying companies. Although Portcoast had a clear plan for capturing infrastructure detail along roads and highways, some structures, such as the massive Gemalink Port in southern Vietnam are inaccessible by land.

As one of only 19 major ports capable of receiving the world’s largest container ships, Gemalink Port on the Cai Mep-Thi Vai River is an important trans-shipment center for global trade. Operational in May 2021, its strategic location provides the country an economic boost while cutting costs and reducing the time it takes exports to reach the United States and Europe.

Having a 3D model of the facility would serve many needs, from maintenance and BIM applications to verifying the length of the berths. The challenge was how to acquire the data needed to build a comprehensive digital twin of the facility. 

Portcoast resolved that with some ingenuity and flexible, accurate mobile mapping technology from Trimble. 

A Portcoast team mounted a Trimble MX50 mobile mapping system on a wooden boat—40 feet in length, 10 feet wide, and 10 feet high—and slowly drove at an average speed of about 5 knots, maintaining a distance between boat and scanned objects of around 15 feet.

The MX50 is typically mounted on a car or truck and driven at highway speeds to capture data for asset management, mapping, and road maintenance projects. Portcoast found that the operations on the boat delivered the same 360-degree color imagery and precise point cloud and met the desired accuracy of less than 1 to 2 centimeters. The small waves on the river had negligible effect on operations; in just 15 minutes the riverbank and river-facing infrastructure were scanned. Trimble Business Center field-to-finish survey software and Applanix POSPac® Mobile Mapping Suite were used to process the MX50 data.

Terrestrial data for the container terminal was collected with the Trimble SX12 scanning total stations over a seven-day period with 60 scan stations. Those land targets helped register the MX50 scans and seamlessly merge both data sets to produce a 3D input for digital twin design and a BIM model.

“Mounted on a boat, the versatile MX50 mobile mapping system allows us to efficiently map hard-to-reach areas from the water, and on a vehicle we collect large areas such as industrial parks, express highways and cities,” said Dr. Hoang Hiep, Vice Director General of Portcoast.

The Trimble MX50 and SX12 provided the complete 3D digital picture needed for the implementation of BIM processes to improve efficiency of operations and ongoing maintenance at the Gemalink Port.

As Smart City initiatives are among today’s most powerful economic drivers and the most efficient way to tackle the interconnected threats of climate change, HCMC’s transformation plan is indeed a smart one.