Contour Plots for Advanced Visualization in Pathfinder

Posted: May 14th, 2015 in News

An engineer must often make recommendations to modify an architect’s original designs, while providing convincing support of their claims. In disciplines such as fire protection, a clear understanding of pedestrian density may help point out the most congested hallways or staircases in a building with multiple paths. Pathfinder (Version 2015.1.0515) allows the creation of contour plots that can add data visualization overlays, such as occupant density, to the floor surfaces of your model for a quick and easy to understand view of simulation results.

If we consider an evacuation scenario, understanding risks to efficient egress becomes top priority. Displaying Time to Exit contours on the floor highlights those occupants who are at greatest risk during an emergency evacuation. Contour plots color the floors of the model so that occupant areas with the longest travel time are quickly identifiable. This allows for an easy evaluation against tenability criteria in order to ensure a proper factor of safety. A client who views this information will immediately understand the message, even without a technical background.

"Time To Exit" contour plot in Pathfinder
Figure 1. A Time to Exit contour plot provides a real-time representation of pedestrian evacuation information.

There are many other plots available to help you and your clients better understand the results from a simulation. Plots can be customized to better highlight certain information, and customizations can be reused across projects. For instance, Figure 1 uses the option to present a historical maximum value on the floor model instead of an instantaneous value. Contour plots are shown within the 3D Results viewer and can be exported as video files. The Pathfinder contour plot feature provides rapid data visualization and client assurance while reducing development time.

In addition to the new contour plots feature, a tool for Fundamental Diagram Customization in Pathfinder to define the speed/density relationship of occupants in a simulation has been implemented.