Officials in the Town of Fairfield, Connecticut, received a state grant that would help fund downtown streetscape improvements to include a rain garden, tree plantings, additional green space, and other features. These improvements were planned not only to foster a more attractive downtown atmosphere, but also to help the town decrease flooding and stormwater runoff, thereby increasing the community’s resilience to sea level rise. The town’s engineering department created a CAD (computer-aided design) drawing that illustrated the improvements, but officials found the drawing difficult to visualize and understand.
Town of Fairfield personnel completed the NOAA Office for Coastal Management’s CanVis online course. The visualization software CanVis enables users with minimal computer skills to create realistic simulations of coastal changes, simply by using local digital images and choosing from a library of more than 700 objects. Following the course, Town of Fairfield personnel used CanVis software to create visualizations that were easy to picture and understand.
The CanVis visualizations enabled town planners, engineers, and other officials to be fully informed on streetscape improvements and to contribute feedback. For instance, car images in an original streetscape photograph were deleted and then replaced with objects from the CanVis library showing a rain garden, new shrubbery, brick pavers, the exact species of elm tree that would be planted, and many other features.