Abu Dhabi USDM Online Street Design Tool

Holistic City worked with the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) and Otak International to deliver an online street design tool, now used by engineers and planners to create street designs and analyse them against the background of Abu Dhabi's new street design policies.

Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual - Online Design Tool screenshot


Abu Dhabi's new Urban Street Design Manual (USDM) was created to guide the city's transition from a car-oriented environment to a more liveable environment with walkable, multi-modal streets.

A revised version of the USDM was published in 2012 to incorporate feedback from users of the manual, and this revised version was accompanied by the online street design tool.

The USDM online design tool is free for anyone to use, and can be accessed here:


The USDM online design tool offers an interactive cross-section and plan view, and can be used in three 'modes':

  • New Streets - in this mode, intended for use on new developments, the design of the street must comply with the standard design templates in the USDM.
  • Retrofit mode - this mode allows the user to set a width (of an existing street) and adjust the street design to fit within the existing dimensions. It will offer advice on parts of the design which may not comply with the USDM regulations.
  • Free Design Mode - in this mode, the street design can be edited without any constraints, and any number of lanes, shared surfaces and other streetscape elements can be arranged in any order.


The USDM online design tool allows engineers to create a variety of street types and edit various aspects of the street, including illustrative trees and objects in a cross section and plan view.

The USDM online street design tool contains the following features:

  • Select from 20 pre-installed street templates, based on the guidance in the USDM.
  • Create and manage elements such as travel lanes, medians, parking, pedestrian areas and transit lanes and stations.
  • Add objects such as trees, street furniture, shelters and bus stops.
  • Edit the configuration of buildings or walls on both sides of the road.
  • Full bi-lingual functionality with easy switching between English and Arabic.
  • Analysis of street width, width between buildings (including setbacks), average height/width ratio and shadow lines from buildings.
  • Illustrative animation of cars, vehicles, transit and cycles in the plan view.
  • Export street design information to XML, DXF (CAD drawing), PDF (one-page summary) and CSV (Excel data).
  • Automatically generated plan view with street markings for bus lanes, cycle lanes and shared lanes.

Technical information

The USDM online tool is a custom web application that uses various client-side and server-side components.

Most of the street modelling functionality is provided by client-side components using JavaScript and HTML5, while Java is used for some server-side computations and file management operations.