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The UK Government as part of its building information modeling (BIM) initiative has said repeatedly that it expects the big payoff of a digital model, estimated at more than 40% savings, will be during operations and maintenance, typically representing 80% of the total cost of a facility. Companies such as BAM who do Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM) projects report significant benefits from full lifecycle BIM + geospatial. But there is little if any quantitative evidence supporting this conjecture. I have asked people from Finland familiar with the very early BIM developments in that country if there were studies of the benefits of BIM for operations and maintenance, but apparently the BIM focus there has been entirely on design and build.
Crossrail with a budget of £14.8 billion is the biggest engineering project in Europe. It involves 42 km of tunnels beneath one of the most densely populated parts of Europe. It has wider tunnels and its 40 stations have longer station platforms than the Tube has. Crossrail trains are expected to start running next year and the full network should be open by 2019.
But the most interesting aspect of the Crossrail project is a 3D digital model with associated asset data that has not only been used during design and construction, but is intended to be used for operations and maintenance. Crossrail appears to be the first major project that may be able to provide support for the conjecture that the biggest benefits of BIM are for operations and maintenance.
The Crossrail model is comprised of spatial and non-spatial data with links between the two. The spatial data is made up of more than 250,000 3D BIM models as well as as-builts, together comprising a few terabytes. As construction of each facility is completed as-builts are collected by point-cloud survey using laser scanners. The point clouds captured in the survey are compared to the design and divergences that need resolving are recorded for fixing. The detailed asset data and documentation add an additional 5 terabytes. This represents one of the World's largest BIM model. A critical aspect of the spatial database is that all assets are geolocated so that workers can query a particular location of London on a map and then navigate to the Crossrail assets there.
The model is intended to become a crucial tool for monitoring, operating and maintaining Crossrail’s systems once the railway is running. Sensors monitor various aspects of the railway's operation and remote-controlled devices can change operating parameters from a central control room or from a handheld device. Managers can view this information within the 3D model and can zoom in on an area which needs attention. Crossrail is testing low-power wireless smart sensors called Utterberries that can monitor strain, temperature, humidity, acceleration, and other aspects of a facility. Utterberries weigh 15 grams and are smart - they have an ARM processor on-board and can operate for more than a year on one charge. One of the coolest capabilities of the digital infrastrucure is an augmented-reality interface which allows workers to hold an iPad up to a wall or floor and see a view of the infrastructure (electricity, water, and communications) under the floor or behind the wall.
Worldwide there is increasing demand from building and infrastructure owners for service provision throughout the entire life cycle of a building or infrastructure. This represents a distinct break with the design/build tradition which has dominated construction for years. At the Year in Infrastructure conference in London, a dominant theme was the growing recognition of the importance of full lifecycle management of infrastructure. I found it symptomatic of the direction of the construction industry that fully one third of the 54 finalists for the annual Be Inspired Awards involved mapping, rehabbing, retrofitting, replacing and managing existing infrastructure. This is my classification of these Be Inspired finalists;
Patrick MacLeamy, Chairman of buildingSMART and CEO of HOK, has been pushing a very simple message about the U.S. construction industry for years. Buildings are too expensive, are too inefficient to operate and maintain, and don't last long. As a result the U.S. construction industry is falling behind the Nordic countries, the U.K. and Singapore. His solution is a full life cycle approach to construction. Information has to be shared between owners, designers, contractors, operations and facilities management over the entire life cycle of the building or infrastructure.
Over 50% of the cost of maintaining a building is operations and maintenance which is comprised of administration, maintenance and repairs, and restoration projects. In several countries BIM has become essential for design and construction. But many including the UK government believe that the full value of BIM can only be found during the operational life of the building where the majority of the life cycle costs occur. The UK government has said that "the 20% saving refers to CapEx cost savings however we know that the largest prize for BIM lies in the operational stages of the project life-cycle".
Road and highway infrastructure
Highway construction is being transformed, due in part to the arrival of autonomous vehicles. I've blogged about the startling (at least to traditional construction contractors) vision of the future of highway construction of the Chief of Surveys at the Oregon Department of Transportation (DoT) which targets the full lifecycle of highway assets from planning through design and construction and operation and maintainenance. Some large construction projects are already being designed, built and operated and maintained with a full lifecycle perspective.
Industry surveys report that up to 80 percent of a utility's resources and budget can be spent on operating and maintaining existing utility infrastructure. Surveys also show that aging utility infrastructure is a top priority for most utilities.
Be Inspired Awards: Mapping, Monitoring, Rehabbing, and Replacing Infrastructure
One of the projects focused specifically on full lifecycle data management for highway construction. The project, which was submitted by the Roads Directorate, Denmark, is for the $ 580 million 39-kilometer Herning – Holstebro highway which includes eight interchanges, four railway crossings, and five bridges. The important achievement of the project was to create a digital workflow with meaningful requirements for sharing data among disciplines and across the entire project lifecycle. The project was a finalist for the year's Be Inspired Award for Innovation in Roads.
Seven of the finalists' submissions involved renovation, rehabbing, and retrofit. An outstanding example of a rehab project is the Bond Street to Baker Street Tunnel Remediation Project. This is a London Underground project in the UK. It involved the replacement of the existing elastoplastic concrete lining of a 215-meter tunnel segment on the Jubilee Line with a spheroidal graphite iron lining - all while the line was running at full capacity. This achievement won this year's Be Inspired Award for Innovation in Rail and Transit at the Year in Infrastructure 2015 conference.
Two of the finalists' projects involved replacement. An example of a replacement project was the Decommissioning and Replacement of Del Rio Bridge on US 20 this was carried out by Harper-Leavitt Engineering for the Idaho Transportation Department with minimum disruption to traffic.
Five of the finalists submitted projects that involved monitoring and extracting more value from existing transportation and utility infrastructure including rail, electric substations, electric and water and waste water distribution networks.
An example is a project submitted by SA Water which won the Be InspiredInnovation in Asset Performance Management Award. The project involved integrating a hydraulic model and an operational analytics tool with network sensors to help them optimize their network. These tools enable them to optimize chlorine dosing for different water sources (runoff, desalinization, rivers), minimize electric power costs, and improve water quality by mapping water age across their entire network. SA Water have not only been able to reduce their power bill by A$3 million, but also have cut their network operating costs by nearly a A$ million. It has also resulted in improved water quality. More fundamentally it has given them much greater insight into sources of revenue and the costs of various aspects of operating a water network.
Four of the finalist projects involved mapping and historic site protection. An example is a gas main project submitted by Utility Mapping Services Inc. This project involved creating a 3D map of underground utilities along a stretch of highway with complex utility infrastructure woven through dense commercial and residential areas with limited right-of-way and heavy traffic congestion. Most critically from a safety perspective, there were no utility strikes on the project. As a result the 3D model is credited with reducing construction time from 10 to 7 weeks. Most importantly from a budget perspective, there were no change orders and the total cost of the project came in at 10-15% less than estimated in the absence of a 3D model.
Another example is a project submitted by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA). Singapore intends to be the world's first "smart nation". Part of this initiative involves developing a virtual Singapore that is intended to be the source of authoritative information about Singapore for use by government agencies. The project involves capturing large amounts of data using multiple rapid mapping technologies including oblique imagery, airborne laser scanning, mobile laser scanning, and terrestrial scanning. The data has been compiled into 3D city model in a single database repository which includes geometry, topology, semantics and appearance. The database relies on CityGML, a standard managed by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), for the database schema and for data exchange. The total volume of data is more than 50 terabytes. The database is open and accessible to all government agencies. The most challenging part of the project has been the development of business processes and technologies for ensuring the data remains current. At the the Year in Infrastructure conference in London the SLA the won the annual Be Inspired AwardforInnovation in Government.
The location of existing underground utility infrastructure is more often than not poorly known which creates significant risk for infrastructure and highway construction projects. In a gas line construction project which Utility Mapping Services (UMS) submitted for a Be Inspired Award, UMS diverged from normal construction practice by first creating a 3D model of the existing underground and above ground infrastructure. During construction there were no utility strikes and as a result there were no change orders and the construction project was completed in 7 instead of the expected 10 weeks.
I had a chance to chat with Donald Haines, Senior Engineer, and Cameron Greer, Project Engineer at UMS. The project involved constructing an eight inch high pressure natural gas pipeline along a major highway SR510. The customer was Puget Sound Energy which is responsible for electricity and gas in the Puget Sound area. The Washington DOT was also involved in the project because the new pipeline runs within the SR510 right of way.
A major risk was that the project corridor includes complex utility infrastructure woven through dense commercial and residential areas with limited right-of-way and heavy traffic congestion. Because of the complexity of the underground utility infrastructure it was decided at the beginning of the project to develop a 3D model of the existing underground infrastructure. The model enabled the design team to adjust the pipe elevation and horizontal alignment to avoid potential utility conflicts during the design phase. The 3d model of existing utility infrastructure avoided unnecessary utility relocations and the associated construction delays and contractor change orders. It also allowed for tighter contractor bid estimates by providing a more accurate design to the contractors.
UMS' subsurface utility engineering (SUE) services group were familiar with new remote sensing technology such as ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic detection (SPAR300) which allowed them to acquire 3-D location data for underground utility infrastructure. Application of new SUE technology created much greater value for the customer because UMS can now clearly convey to the client the issues presented by existing infrastructure and work with their design and construction teams and the utility infrastructure owners to minimize utility relocations and avoid surprises from buried unknowns.
Starting with a 2D basemap, the underground survey was conducting using several technologies, including SPAR300 and GPR, and potholing for validation. In addition to the expected utility infrastructure, the survey detected undocumented abandoned utility lines which highlights an important advantage of the new remote sensing technologies. The data was captured and integrated to create a 3D model using Trimble software. The 3D model formed the basis for the design for the new gas pipeline. The 3D model detected 170 conflicts, points of intersection of the design for the new pipeline with other utilities. Several alternative routes were assessed and the costs and benefits of each were computed and compared in order to determine the optimal routing for the new pipeline. 3D visualization of the alternative routes helped the designers show Puget Sound Energy and the Washington DOT the advantages of alternative routes and allowed changes to be made to the design live in front of the customer. One interesting wrinkle is that the design had to avoid conflicting with new sewer line which had not been built yet. One of the existing sewer lines was scheduled to be replaced by a significantly larger one in the near future.
A major advantage of the 3D model is that it reduces the risk of utility strikes during construction. On projects where automated construction is used, exclusion zones can be created from the underground 3D model that prevent the machinery from striking utility infrastructure.
The 3D model helped in other ways. The project required two variances from the Washington DOT which were granted in record time because the 3D model showed so clearly why and where they were required. The 3D model helped to minimize highway disruptions to the public. Most critically from a safety as well as cost perspective, there were no utility strikes on the project. As a result the 3D model is credited with reducing construction time from 10 to 7 weeks. Most importantly from a budget perspective, there were no change orders and the total cost of the project came in at 10-15% less than estimated in the absence of a 3D model.
Smart substations are an essential component of the next generation of the electric power grid. But for many utilities they have become a severe bottleneck because of limited substation design resources. Enabling external contractors to participate efficiently in substation design is becoming an important strategy for alleviating this problem. After a year in which Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) had failed to complete 60% of its substation design projects, PG&E embarked on an innovative project to enable external contractors to participate efficiently in the substation design process. This achievement won this year's Be Inspired Award for Innovation in Utilities at the Year in Infrastructure 2015 conference in London.
PG&Es Substation Engineering Services had deployed a new substation design system that integrated electric and physical design to approximately 80 internal design employees. The new system halved the average time required per drawing from 24 to 12 hours. This resulted in efficiency gains of about $ 5 million in savings per year on contracted projects.
But PG&E found that it still had a substation design backlog. PG&E's strategy for accelerating substation design relied on the expanded use of external contractors to augment its stretched internal resources. However, as its use of external contractors grew, PG&E found that efficiency decreased because the overhead associated with external resources was very high compared to internal resources. PG&E's solution was to develop a distributed engineering design system that allowed engineers anywhere in the world to collaborate efficiently on substation design. PG&E’s distributed substation design environment reduced the average time required per drawing for external contractors by a third, making external contractors nearly as efficient as internal designers. Altogether the distributed engineering design system saved $7.3 million in costs annually. Also since less travel was required, a side effect of the project was a reduced carbon footprint.
At the the Year in Infrastructure conference in London the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) won the annual Be Inspired AwardforInnovation in Government. Comprising only 700 square kilometers for the entire nation, land is a valuable and critical national resource for Singapore and the Singapore Land Authority is responsible for making the most of the resource.
Specifically SLA is responsible for the national land management system and for all geographical information (GIS) management. At the Be Inspired Awards at the Year in Infrastructure 2015 conference in London, I had an opportunity to chat with Victor Khoo and Kean Huat Soon. Victor Khoo is Deputy Director Land Survey at the SLA and Kean Huat Soon is a Senior Surveyor and the technical lead for the project.
Singapore intends to be the world's first "smart nation". Part of this initiative involves developing a virtual Singapore that is intended to be the source of authoritative information about Singapore for use by government. The current priority is a 3D model of buildings and below and above ground infrastructure.
The Mapping Singapore in 3D project is financed 50% by the Government of Singapore and 50% by agencies, primarily the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB). Several government agencies including the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Housing Development Board (HDB) are already using it. CAAS finds it essential for maintaining aviation glide paths over the city as does the PUB for assessing the impact of flooding. HDB uses it for planning purposes.
The project involves capturing large amounts of data using multiple rapid mapping technologies including oblique imagery, airborne laser scanning, mobile laser scanning, and terrestrial scanning. The data is compiled into 3D city model in a single database repository. The database includes geometry, topology, semantics and appearance. It relies on CityGML, a standard managed by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), for the database schema and for data exchange. The project works at the Level of Detail (LOD) Level 1-3. The data is stored in a single geospatially-enabled relational database (Oracle Spatial). The total volume of data is more than 50 terabytes.The most challenging part of the project has been the development of business processes and technologies for ensuring the data remains current. The database is open and accessible to all government agencies.
Victor Khoo is also responsible for developing a 3D cadastre for Singapore which is a separate project at SLA. A 3D cadastre is especially critical for Singapore for several reasons. 85 % of the population of Singapore lives in public high rise buildings. Underground space is heavily used and underground density is increasing. Land developers are being very creative and packaging complex volumetric parcels that include both underground and above ground.
A 3D cadastre has data, legal, system and process dimensions. The legislation required for the legal aspect is already in place. The system and processes are intended to be completed by the end of 2016. With respect to data a 3D GIS is being populated at SLA starting with 2D land parcel data.
Land surveyors are an essential part of the 3D cadastre project. As a first step surveyors are required to use electronic data exchange instead of paper (Singapore mandated electronic submissions for building permitting over a decade ago.) Singapore has decided to support ePlan LandXML as an open standard for the exchange of survey data. In 2013 Singapore joined the ePlan working group which is focussed on developing a digital protocol for the transfer of cadastral data between the surveying Industry and government. The working group was originally made up of technical experts from the eight states and territories of Australia and New Zealand working in the management of cadastral data.
An outstanding issue is the integration of BIM models into the Singapore city model. A number of groups are working on a way of integrating CityGML and the BIM Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) standard. An example is the Dutch 3D standard.
Energy modeling for cities
The European SUNSHINE (Smart Urban Services for Higher Energy Efficiency) project has found a data model within the INSPIRE standard that is adequate for energy performance modeling for cities. CityGML has strongly influenced the development of the INSPIRE BU model, both for 2D and for 3D profiles. Many use cases that were considered for INSPIRE BU require a three-dimensional representation of buildings such as a building information model (BIM). Examples are noise emission simulation and mapping, solar radiation computation or the design of an infrastructure project. To allow for that, the building representation in Level of Detail (LoD1 - LoD4) of CityGML has been added to the INSPIRE BU model as a core 3D profile. For large scale energy performance at the urban level, the SUNSHINE team concluded that detailed interior elements of each building are not required. It is possible to work at a simple Level of Detail 3 (LOD3) and just include elements like roofs, envelope walls, and windows.
Augmented reality involves a smartphone or a tablet that has a screen, camera, GPS and an accelerometer that detects camera motion and orientation. The real world "background" is comprised of data, including location, of real world objects or visible objects . For example, in the context of construction virtual objects representing the design of a new building or new infrastructure or a 3D model of underground infrastructure can be superimposed on a map showing existing conditions or a map of surface structures such as roads and buildings. The augmented reality application superimposes the virtual design objects or the underground infrastructure on the map of existing objects or the surface map. (Image showing 3D model of Las Vegas underground infrastructure from VTN).
Dr Anne Kemp, Director and Fellow, Atkins, Vice-Chair of BuildingSmart, UK, Chair of ICE BIM Action Group, and Chair of BIM4Infrastructure UK, has published very thought-provoking insights into how the convergence of BIM and geospatial can contribute to the better management of information to help generate the understanding to make better decisions.
Her first assertion “So, let’s put paid to the hang-ups of what is and is not GIS and BIM, and discover what really deserves our focus” is a very good place for all of us to start if we are going to tear down the discipline boundaries that are inhibiting us from moving to a more holistic approach to problem solving in the era of smart cities.
Better outcomes, not BIM or geospatial
Her goal is not to support BIM or geospatial per se, but to use these technologies to improve outcomes. From Anne's perspective the key outcomes we should be aiming at are
CLARITY - Clarity of delivery
TECHNICAL JUDGEMENT - Converging information production with sound engineering judgment and design
ACCESS - Wider, faster access to comprehensible and integrated information
LATERAL THINKING - Enabling reflective, adaptive thinking to incorporate whole life and integrated systems approach within the wider geographic context
INNOVATION - Harnessing innovative technologies and harvesting intelligence from big data
DECISIONS - Fostering instinctive, but rigorous collaboration and better decision making
Data, not documents
The construction industry is based on documents such as drawings. Documents lock data up within a discipline and prevents the wider access that can be used to build up an integrated view of an asset. In contrast digital data can be used, many times, for different purposes, by different disciplines. This requires interoperability and the ability to map semantics across different disciplines.
Assets, not projects
The full lifecycle view of a building, road or airport requires thinking of assets not projects. Anne's perspective is that this is where the convergence of BIM with geospatial provides the biggest benefits. The UK government would agree. The short term objective of the UK Government BIM mandate is to reduce the cost of construction (design, tender, build) by 20%. The longer term objective is by 2025 to reduce the costs associated with designing, building, operating and maintaining buildings and infrastructure by a third. ‘In-use’ data from facilities management (FM) systems, building management systems, and sensors including smart phones provides information on how an asset is actually serving the needs of people, and the patterns of behaviour of people using the infrastructure. This information can be used to optimize building or infrastructure design. A geospatial perspective enables this data to be used not only with individual buildings or infrastructure, but for a whole neighbourhood, town or city.
Ensuring that data is not manipulated to distort decision making is critical to enabling the true data-driven organization of the future. Anne's perspective is that the industry is becoming increasingly dependent on data management professionals. This will require standards and a code of ethics to address challenges of privacy, distortion, and manipulation so as to ensure that data is made available in a way that aids rather than confuses decision making. In the future chief data officers and other information professionals will have even much greater responsibilities - they will be responsible for specifying, collecting, and analyzing the information for decision making that will be critical to the organization's success, even its existence.
Information is not understanding
Malcolm Gladwell in "Blink" points out that “We live in a world saturated with information. We have virtually unlimited amounts of data at our fingertips at all times, and we’re well versed in the arguments about the dangers of not knowing enough and not doing our homework. But what I have sensed is an enormous frustration with the unexpected costs of knowing too much, of being inundated with information. We have come to confuse information with understanding.”
At a recent BIM conference the term “infobesity” came up more than once. A decade ago people were concerned about not having enough data to make informed decisions. Now that we have more data being collected by sensors such as smart meters and smart phones, the problem is how do we make sense from the huge volumes of data that all these smart devices are collecting.
Anne makes the point that when managed correctly, “instant” decisions based on a small amount of data are not just as good, but can be better than those made after analyzing all available data. The "less is more" challenge is to distill the data to just the right subset to enable you can make better decisions faster with less data. Anne believes that this will require more sophisticated visualization techniques to enable insights from patterns in large amounts of data and better collaboration technology to enable a large number of individuals from different disciplines to understand each other (even when using different terms for the same piece of equipment or construction material) and to collaborate fruitfully.
This means that we will be asking our human or computer information engineers to deliver that essential subset of information to the right people at the right time, and in an intuitively understandable way. Anne suggests that our cartographic and GIS heritage of creating, analyzing and visualizing a view of the physical world as maps may provide a model for future data managers. But, as Anne points out, this will have to be transformed for a virtual environment.
Anne's final point is often overlooked. BIM, geospatial, augmented reality and other technologies are transforming how we view "reality". There are very real consequences for people working in a virtual world. Anne mentions the first case of internet addition disorder (IAD) involving Google Glasses on October 14, 2014 and asks how many of us are already there with our smartphones and tablets ?
At the SPAR International Conference in April 2014, Kirk Knorr from Burns & McDonnell and Gregory Lawes of point3D gave a presentation about their experience using a handheld scanner from DotProduct LLC , a relatively new startup. This is a professional device intended for engineers and others working in the construction industry. It is basically a 7" Android tablet with a compact near infrared structured light and rgb 3D imaging system. It weighs less than a kilogram and is accurate for engineering purposes at distances up to 3.3 meters. It costs thousands of dollars, much less than the tens of thousands of dollars for terrestrial laser scanners. Kirk Knorr and an engineer from Bechtel reported that he had been using the device on live construction projects for a year and in their view the DotProduct and similar handheld devices are going to revolutionize how we do construction. They foresaw this happening very soon, within a year.
Now a major metrology company FARO has announced the Freestyle3D Scanner, which is a high precision, handheld scanner which generates high-definition point clouds. It can be used to scan objects within a range of half a meter to 3 meters away with a resolution in 3D of better than 1.5mm with a image point density of up to 45,000 points/m² at 0.5m and up to 10,500 points/m² at 1m. The total scan volume can include up to 8.1m³. The device weighs less than a kilogram with dimensions 26cm x 31cm x 10.5cm. The scanner is attached to a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet for visualizing the point cloud as you scan.
Some of the applications of the scanner include architecture and interior design, restoration and 3D modelling, construction and facility management, and forensic applications including accident reconstruction.
For the first time in a hundred years, the electric power utility industry is undergoing a momentous change. Distributed renewable power generation, especially solar photovoltaics (PV), is introducing competition into an industry that has been managed as regulated monopolies. Consumers with solar PV panels on their roofs (and in not-too-distant future with Tesla batteries in the basement) and companies like Solar City (co-founded by Tesla co-founder Elon Musk) are fundamentally changing the traditional utility business model. A recent report from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) report refers to disruptive challenges that threaten to force electric power utilities to change or adapt the business model that has been in place since the first half of the 20th century.
As a result, every aspect of the the electric power industry is changing. One of these changes involves the role that geospatial data and technology play in the electricity industry. In the past, geospatial has been a tactical tool — it was (and still is) used in a variety of applications — in outage management, asset management, mobile work- force management, energy density modelling, vegetation management, demand modelling, transmission line siting, substation siting and design, energy performance modelling of buildings, disaster management, and mapping renewable resources, to name just a few. However, with the changes that the industry is undergoing now, geospatial is poised to become a foundation technology for the smart grid.
The Energy Issue of Geospatial World Magazine explores the impact that this momentous change is having on the application of geospatial technology in the electric power utility sector. Below I'm providing an overview of the material relating to electric power you'll find in this issue.
GIS has been widely used by utilities for years for automated mapping/facilities management, back office records management, asset management, transmission line siting, and more recently for design and construction, energy conservation, vegetation management, mobile workforce management (MWFM), and outage management (OMS). Now, utilities are integrating GIS with automated meter infrastructure (AMI) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Intelligent design has crossed over from the office to the field in utilities, also enabled by the capabilities of GIS, says Smith. Geospatial-related analytics (spatial analytics) is seen as one of the key aspects of success for electric utility operations in the smart grid era. Looking for patterns and correlations between different land, weather, terrain, assets, and other types of geodata will be increasingly important for utilities. Power-related analytics with geospatial components include network fault tracing, load flow analysis, Volt/VAR analysis, real-time disaster situational awareness, condition-based maintenance, and vegetation management. The smart grid is all about situation awareness and effective anticipation of and response to events that might disrupt the performance of the power grid. Since spatial data underlies everything an electric utility does, GIS is the only foundational view that can potentially link every operational activity of an electric utility, including design and construction, asset management, workforce management, and outage management as well as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), distribution management systems (DMSs), renewables, and strategy planning.
Peter Batty reports on the major growth in geospatially-enabled Web and mobile applications with a special focus on the open source geospatial community and the significant impact of these technologies in the utility sector. "In general, there are a lot of geospatial open source software components available now that have the capabilities and robustness to be used in serious enterprise applications." John McDonald, Chairman of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel has been a firm believer for a long time that geospatial information is part of the foundational platform for smart grid. SGIP has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Open Geospatial Consortium with the goal of incorporating more geospatial standards into SGIP standards. Cindi Smith of Bentley goes even further and argues that “geospatial technology is already a foundational component of electric power utilities’ IT/OT systems. Smart grid simply brings more focus to the role it can play by virtue of the visibility of smart grid projects and processes in a utility and their need to exploit the vast amounts of data produced by the smart grid." Loek Bakker & Jan van GelderIt of Alliander, a Dutch utility company, describe how essential it has been for Alliander to integrate GIS, ERP and SCADA systems for a correct picture of its assets. As electric utilities evolve into increasingly data-driven organisations, Jeffrey Pires and G. Ben Binger describe how GIS is fast emerging as the backbone for data management platforms.
Cities are beginning to develop 3D models of underground infrastructure motivated by new underground remote-sensing technologies and by ROIs of up to of US$21.00 saved for every US$1.00 spent on improving the quality level of subsurface utility information. Steve Dibenedetto, Senior Geoscientist and Technology Manager, Underground Imaging Technologies (UIT), part of Caterpillar describes new remote-sensing technology for detecting and geolocating in 3D underground utility infrastructure such as Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Electromagnetic Induction (EMI).
The Indian on-going Restructured – Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Program (R-APDRP) is one of the largest IT initiatives by electric utilities anywhere in the world — in one integrated project, all state-owned distribution utilities in India are building IT infrastructure, IT applications and automation systems. The programme set out to create baseline data in the form of consumer indexing, GIS mapping and asset mapping. Reji Pillai & C. Amritha assess how GIS can be applied in this context.
Integrating geospatial and BIM is a key enabler for energy performance modeling which is a fundamental instrument for reducing the energy consumption and improving the energy performance of new and existing buildings. According to a report from Navigant Research, global zero energy buildings revenue is expected to grow from $629.3 million in 2014 to $1.4 trillion by 2035.
Wolfgang Eyrich of Entegra shares how Entegra’s primtech product, which is designed to help substation designers deliver designs based on integrated product modelling, provides a geographical context to substation designing.
Matt Zimmerman of Schneider Electric highlights one of Schneider Electric's key techologies "graphic work design" which is integrated geospatial and engineering design (CAD or BIM). Schneider Electric's geospatial division focuses on developing integrated, location-aware enterprise solutions such as integrated outage management (OMS), customer information system (CIS), GIS, and external weather reporting and forecasting service to help plan crew deployment during a storm. Matt foresees that location-aware predictive analytics for electric networks is going to be one of the major development areas for utilities in the future. Brad Williams of Oracle points out that spatial analytics is becoming a key technology for electric utilities because everything a utility does - customers, assets, and operations - involves location.
One of the biggest challenges that utilities are experiencing is increasing volumes of structured and unstructured data (big data) that is overwhelming traditional enterprise systems. The structured data comes from smart meters and intelligent electronic devices, and the unstructured data from social networks including Twitter, Google, Facebook and other social applications. Consumerization of geospatial technology (we are all GPS-enabled sensors) will enable crowd-sourcing new sources of information about electric power networks most of which involves location (big spatial data).
Transforming Singapore's construction industry: from paper drawings to smart cities
Singapore has a compelling vision of where it wants to be by 2030. Since about 2003 when it first introduced e-submissions, it has moved rapidly on two fronts; automating the building permitting process and improving construction productivity by transforming the construction industry.
Singapore's goal is simple, to implement the fastest building permitting in the world. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) led a multi-agency effort in 2007/2008 to implement the world’s first BIM electronic submission (e-submission). The BIM e-submission system streamlines the process for regulatory submission. Project teams only need to submit one building model, which contains all of the information needed to meet the requirements of a regulatory agency. In 2010, nine regulatory agencies accepted architectural BIM 3D models for approval through e-submission. This was followed by the acceptance of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) and structural BIM models in 2011. In 2013 the Singapore government began mandating architectural BIM e-submissions for building projects greater than 20,000 square meters. In 2015 BM e-submissions will be required for all projects greater than 5,000 square meters.
Improving construction productivity
A related, major initiative of the government is to improve the construction industry’s productivity through the use of BIM by 20-30%. In 2010 the BCA implemented the BIM Roadmap with the aim that BIM would become widely used in the construction industry by 2015. The government's long term goal is to create a highly integrated and technologically advanced construction sector led by progressive firms and supported by a skilled and competent workforce in 2020.
At the BIM Worldwide: Solutions for Canada conference in Toronto, Cheng Tai Fatt, Director, BCA and William Lau, of William Lau Architects and past-president of buildingSMART Singapore, gave a fascinating overview of this dynamic city's implementation of BIM and its BIM plans for the future.
In 2013 an industry adoption survey found that 76% of firms surveyed had begun BIM adoption. It also estimated that 96% will have started BIM adoption by the end of 2015. The survey also found that in 2013, 15% of the firms surveyed used BIM on more than 50% of their projects, a significant increase compared to 2012 when only 4% of firms did.
The primary applications of BIM in Singapore are
Construction coordination modeling
Construction phasing and scheduling
Design analysis including energy, solar and wind analyses
The government's BIM development strategy is based on the public sector leading the way. But it is designed to encourage the private sector by promoting industry success stories and removing impediments. The latter includes developing a series of industry-wide BIM guides, defining a legal and contractual framework for BIM-based projects, and studying the BIM workflow including the interaction between consultants and contractors to identify alternative ways of collaborating such as early contractor involvement and integrated project development (IPD).
The government has put a lot of effort into building BIM capability and capacity through outreach, handholding and mentoring, and training programs (the government subsidizes BIM training by up to 50%). Many of Singapore's universities and polytechnics are involved with BIM training and education in some way.
The government also encourages and supportes the development of BIM standards such as buildingSMART's Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). For example, BCA and buildingSMART Singapore developed a library of building and design objects as well as project collaboration guidelines.
Finally the government has implemented programs for incentivizing BIM adopters. BCA introduced a S$6-million BIM Fund under the Construction Productivity and Capability Fund in June 2010. The BIM Fund covers the costs of training, consultancy, software and hardware.
Singapore's Second BIM Roadmap
Singapore is working on developing a second BIM roadmap with a focus on process transformation, BIM research and development, BIM for contractors, and BIM for facilities management. There are similarities in this roadmap to the UK Government's BIM Level 3 strategy.