From World Heritage Monument To 3d Urban Model – “Digital Avila” Project by Ingeniería Insitu

Ávila is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Spain. Its world famous walls stand over the centuries-old artistic and cultural heritage found inside. Walking along its narrow, winding streets, one easily sees vestiges from its past.

But being an old city like Avila does not mean being anchored to the past. The city of Avila has adopted innovative technologies for the management of its current urban reality. For such a purpose, INSITU ENGINEERING has been developing and implementing an integrated urban management system. This system is based on the information and data obtained with LiDAR sensors and 360º camera mounted on one of our Mobile Mapper System. (RIEGL VMX-450)


Ávila. Moving towards the Smart City model.

Ávila is a small historical city with a population of about sixty thousand inhabitants. It is located in the autonomous community of Castile and León. Aware of the global trend and multiple benefits of Smart Cities, the city council has begun to take actions for digitalizing the municipality and improving the management and quality of public services with the initiative of the project “Digital Ávila”.

Within the framework of “Digital Ávila” came the need of an integrated urban management system. The aim was to implement a tool for the integration and relation of a huge amount of information.

This tool would be the key for the city management, as it would allow the identification, relation and analysis of the territory and its associated information in a centralized system that would work efficiently.

More specifically, the system should:

be a transversal management tool,

provide support to decision making,

build a territorial analysis of the information,

allow the integration of internal procedures,

help the management of training courses,

enable anomaly detection,

provide support in the implementation and monitoring of action plans.


The integrated urban management system of the city of Ávila.

What is this management system? This is an advanced Geographic Information System feeding on a database with millions of points and thousands of images and inventory data.

Now the public administration can manage the elements of the street (from bins to road marks) and know at every moment the needs of the public services of the city.

“Why a particular element of the public furniture deteriorates faster than other?”

“How much is going to cost the council the repainting of road marks?”

“How many public banks should we paint or repair?”

Questions like these are no longer interrogations without an answer.


How was it done and why was it decided to do in that way?

It was decided to accomplish the mapping of the city using a Mobile Mapping System (MMS) based on LiDAR and 360º images instead of other techniques. Traditional cartography techniques are slower and cannot delivery high detailed products, so MMS are gaining market share as they are being known in terms of their potentialities.

INSITU‘s fieldwork specialists drove through the streets of Ávila mapping every single detail of interest. The two LiDAR of the Mobile Mapping System measured accurately every street and every corner. The integration of these lasers with the positioning sensors (GPS, odometer, inertial measurement unit) allows high precision point cloud georeferencing. All these devices can create a tridimensional model of the city but we still need the last sensor.

For being able to acquire real color, the Mobile Mapping System is equipped with a Ladybug camera capable of shot 360º panoramic images.

Therefore, we have more than a digital tridimensional copy of Ávila, we can see the city as if we were in the street itself. All the images are georeferenced and linked to the point cloud, enriching the information obtained with LiDAR. For example, in addition to detecting where an element of the city is, we can see whether it is in good state of conservation or damaged.

The combination of pointcloud and RGB imagery is the source of information for the process of delineation and inventory. INSITU has prepared a GIS with 85 layers, including positioning of punctual elements, and delineation of linear elements, adapted to the city council needs.


The project in data.

Basic Equipment.

LIDAR system: RIEGL VMX-450

Camera 360º: Pointgrey Ladybug

Scope of the project:

Surface: 1.300 Ha.

Length of roads: 240 km


Data acquired:

34 million of points (854 GB)

Images: 313,000 (218 GB)

Inventory data:

85 layers

81,313 linear elements

110,592 punctual elements


What happens now?

The city of Ávila has improved its management thanks to the new integrated land management system that is already in use. This is a really positive starting point for boosting smart management.

We have to take into account the temporality of data. Updating the information is necessary. In this particular case, there is a team of people trained to do it in the field, equipped with tablet pcs. They are going to update the most perishable information, as for example, the state of conservation of urban furniture, without updating more robust information like the cartography.

The future could be strongly related with the internet of things. If vehicles are going to have more onboard sensing, maybe they can be a valuable source of information for maintaining up to date information in complex systems like Smart Cities.


Company profile

INSITU Engineering is an innovative Spanish company that has been working with geomatics technologies and innovative systems in different parts of the world for the last eight years.

Our objective and business core: to create the cartography of the future thanks to the massive data acquisition of point clouds and 360º imagery.



INSITU Engineering is currently set in Spain (Madrid, Vigo and Lugo) and Brazil (São Paulo).

For more information, contact INSITU on 0034 981 242 480 or visit

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