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Scan That Prison!

Every year a "Mock Prison Riot" takes place at a decommissioned prison in West Virginia. Corrections professionals arrive once per year to undertake training activities, but in order to properly prepare for the event, they have to know something about the prison. Unfortunately, no proper blueprints exist, and participants had to manually measure as much as possible. This process proved largely unworkable.

This year, however, a new approach was taken, in which the entire prison was scanned and converted into a 3D model, using technology from GKS and Valador. They decided to build a 3D "game" environment and provide that to participants instead of a traditional floor plan. This enabled participants to simulate various prison scenarios and generally improve training effectiveness.

A long-range laser scanner was used to capture the information over only 4 days, as this technology can be used for both indoor and outdoor work. The scans were then converted into usable 3D models, and finally into a solid model. Model conversion took some 2 weeks, after which very realistic textures were added to complete the scene. Be sure to check the video to see the results.

Once completed, participants can then run through the 3D model and gain great familiarity with the layout just as if they were physically there.

So we're wondering whether this approach could be used to capture detailed models of arbitrary buildings. Imagine a library of models of famous historical buildings, for example. Having such models would be a small step towards a world where you could quickly print out your own miniature copy of the Roman Colosseum, for example. Or perhaps you require a life-size replica of a parlor at Versailles and need only extract that portion from a 3D model?

We'll settle for just the solitary confinement cell from the prison.


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