The August edition of Geospatial World Magazine is focussed on the theme of the integration of geopatial and building information modeling (BIM) in both its vertical and horizontal (BIM for Infrastructure) forms. Together the articles and interviews portray the convergence of these technologies and processes as gathering steam, driven by business drivers such as better outcomes, more environmentally friendly designs, and improved productivity. I've extracted a few paragraphs to provide a feel for the breadth and depth of the coverage.
Editorial - Prof. Arup Dasgupta, Managing Editor, Geospatial Media
This academic year I was pleasantly surprised to find five students from the Masters of Construction Engineering and Management attending my core postgraduate course on Fundamentals of Geomatics. It is becoming increasingly clear that geomatics, geospatial to our readers, needs to collaborate with end users to achieve greater acceptability. We have seen that geospatial integrated with enterprise resources planning, business intelligence, building information modelling or design and engineering results in dramatic improvements in these systems.
Cover Story - Geoff Zeiss, Editor - Buildings and Energy, Geospatial Media
The adoption of BIM processes and technologies is a major trend that has been gathering steam over the last decade, motivated by the need for better outcomes. According to McGraw-Hill Construction, the overall adoption of BIM has increased from 17% in 2007 to 71% in 2012 in the US, registering a 45% growth over the last three years, or 400% growth over the last five years. McGraw-Hill Construction estimates that the use of BIM for infrastructure is about three years behind the BIM use on vertical projects but predicts that adoption in the horizontal market will occur at a faster rate than the rate of adoption in the vertical market.
McKinsey singled out poor construction productivity as an important factor in eroding returns on infrastructure, making the sector less attractive for private investment. Thus, the stage is set for a radical transformation of the construction industry with a focus on improving productivity. It is expected that investment in technology will be a key element of the strategy to ensure that our infrastructure is expanded and transformed.
In the construction world, 3D modelling and model-based design, which integrate BIM, GIS and survey, and laser-scanning (LiDAR) in a 3D visualisation environment, are increasingly being used to improve the design and build phases of the construction process. ARCADIS Netherlands is a large engineering firm that has been involved in projects which integrate geospatial into the design process. The integrated approach simplified communication and increased the quality of the final design. It also enabled automated analysis of the consequences of design choices with the result that the planning cycle was shorter.
.Interview - Anne Kemp, Director - BIM Strategy and Development, Atkins United Kingdom
At a recent BIM for Infrastructure Conference at the Royal Geographical Society, we had David Henderson from the Ordnance Survey talking about smart cities, with some superb illustrations of the integration of geospatial and what people would regard as BIM data. The boundary between what is coming from which technology becomes rather incidental; it is much more about what questions you are asking of that data and what are the intended outcomes of the project. Geospatial people are realising that it is about managing and integrating all of infrastructure. And that is just core geography. Being able to analyse and blend that with what is coming from the CAD and BIM world will get really exciting. The goal of what that enables you to do is what is important, not the individual technologies.
There was a UK Government Construction Summit recently where an immersive technology Mission Room was demonstrated. That is an immersive space where you have visuals on all sides including photogrammetry data or video; and CAD or BIM models. It was such a visual way of being able to spatially locate and remember in your mind key assets within that space. What they are using was very much spatial data: survey and photogrammetry data, combined it with junction diagrams and CAD drawings which were put into real-world coordinate space for accurate display. I asked one of the people demonstrating Mission Room if this was GIS. He admitted that it was, but they didn’t call it GIS.
Interview - David Bartlett, Vice President Smarter Physical Infrastructure, IBM United States
Buildings last for many years and if significant improvements and cost savings are to be made, we should be looking for better ways to run these assets more efficiently. There are emerging IT solutions that can apply analytics to BIM models to drive down energy costs, improve building utilisation, optimise property portfolio management and maintenance, and reduce environmental impact.
There is a link between IT and smart buildings. IBM's background is IT and we deal with huge amounts of data. That is why IBM got into smart buildings in the first place. It got everyone in our company fired up because it is an opportunity to help communities, cities and governments to operate at lower cost more efficiently and improve the quality of life.
What IBM is talking about is a big IT play on top of those systems [energy systems, air handling systems, building management systems] which can not only connect multiple buildings but can also aggregate and look at what is happening at a city and at a state level.
Interview - Shannon McElvaney, Global Community Development Industry Manager and Geodesign Evangelist, ESRI United States
Technology today enables us to move beyond the separate process of planning, designing, construction, and maintenance. That continuum is called geodesign, and from the very early stages of a project, it enables the creation of an iterative and informed design.
When we consume BIM models we only extract what we need. On a large Middle East project, we got these huge BIM models, but we needed only the walls, the piling, the floors, and the roof. And from that we could do solar energy modelling for PV panels, energy performance modelling, transit accessibility, shadow casting, and much more. The developers needed to know proximity to stations, value of real estate, floor space, proximity to amenities, and they used this information to value the real estate and forecast their return on investment. The sustainability group needed to do the same, in order to calculate their GHG emissions, energy, water, and waste needs. BIM and GIS integration is essential to be able to do this.
Interview - Stephen Lawler, Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Bing Maps United States
I think the user experience will take a huge leap forward and things will get more immersive with 3D. Companies like Microsoft, Google and others have been increasing imagery coverage through efforts like aerial or streetside. I think the move is towards 3D. The real-world basemap is moving to 3D to provide visually real and symbolic digital experiences, enrich the realworld view with augmented reality and enhance the underlying data and relations.
We will see a lot of augmented reality coming in different forms. You already have things like Google Glasses. The whole visual field of view will become enriched with relevant and personal data. Ultimately, the convergence of technology between the understanding of intent, new natural user interfaces, the location semantic organisation of data, a 3D model and ontology and adaptive 3D contextual rendering will set the stage for our future digital 3D world.
Interview - Andy Powell, UK Head of BIM, and Paul Trethewey, UK Rail BIM Manager, Parsons Brinckerhoff
[This interview didn't make press time for the paper edition. You can find it here.]
BIM is disruptive in the sense that the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) working methodology in many ways is not an evolutionary change but a fundamental change in the way we produce engineering design content.
Parsons Brinckerhoff is organised into business units that cater to different market sectors. Buildings, Civils & Structures, Power, Rail and Highways are the big units within our UK offices. BIM working practices and the associated digital tools that are utilised to achieve this output are relatively well proven within the building design sector. One reason for this is the self-contained nature of a vertical structure; geospatial constraints are usually defined and the entire building itself can be viewed as one asset. The design of linear assets such as highway or rail infrastructure presents some additional, albeit stimulating, challenges to take into consideration. These include questions on how one manages the geospatially correct digital representation of such a large geographic scope of design whilst ensuring existing IT infrastructure is not over-tasked.
Article - Terry Bennett, Senior Industry Programme Manager - Civil Infrastructure, Autodesk
Globally, the use of PPPs has led to increases in efficiency and certainty of delivery. In Australia, PPPs delivered projects at a price closer to the expected cost as compared with those procured through traditional mechanisms. In the UK, a treasury department study showed 89% of PPP projects were delivered on time or early. In Canada, PPPs led to efficiency gains of up to 61.2% over those done with conventional methods, according to a study by the Conference Board of Canada.
BIM for infrastructure is a geospatial- enabled model-centric process, which can transform the infrastructure and asset lifecycle by increasing productivity, improving efficiency, and lowering costs. 3D design and modelling tools enable planners, engineers and contractors to leverage existing GIS information, explore innovative designs and ‘whatif’ scenarios with project investors to test alternatives and simulate realworld performance, develop a better understanding of scheduling and cost (4D and 5D), assess environmental impacts, and provide the public with accurate visualisations of various stages of the project, all while keeping a geospatial context which in turn reduce risk and liability.
Article - Bart De Lathouwer, Director, Interoperability Programs, Europe, Open Geospatial Consortium Belgium
Access to and manipulation of diverse information is a vital tool for Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) firms looking to compete globally. Firms may seek to deliver comprehensive Building Information Model (BIM) as part of their final product, or deliver building information services for years beyond the completion of a building. They may want to combine information from different sources in simulation, analysis, “clash” detection and visualisation. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to discover, assess, access, share and fuse information because these data reside in multiple systems.
We argue that smart building practices as well as smart buildings, smart cities and smart infrastructure advance more through cooperation among standards organisations than they ever could through the efforts of any single technology vendor or small group of technology vendors.
Advanced scenarios will become reality only as integrated standards platforms enable cities and citizens information systems to integrate information not only from GIS, BIM and civil engineering documents and services, but also from a wide variety of increasingly sophisticated — and increasingly connected — consumer products and services