(Rendering courtesy of Brainstorm Technology LLC)

A group of volunteer first-responders to the Sept. 11 disaster who created virtual models of the World Trade Center and the resulting debris pile have won a three-year, $2-million grant to enhance their techniques for large-scale facility modeling and emergency response.

Brainstorm Technology LLC, New York City, won the grant Oct. 1 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Advanced Technology Program. The purpose is to help the company develop software to vastly reduce the time it takes to refine accurate, three-dimensional models of buildings and large-scale environments from the blizzards of electronic data generated by laser scanners and other sources.


According to principal Ann D. Clements, the initial focus is on processing laser scan data. "These scanners are producing enormous amounts of information. It’s hyper-accurate, but overwhelming in its quantity," she says. But she adds that the company’s larger goal is to collate information from many sources, ranging from video and digital photos to extrapolation from eye-witness accounts, to swiftly create computer-animated models for virtual reconstruction of structures and events.