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GEOBIM 2020 – Inclusive – Geospatial World


Framework for people, process & system in the AEC industry took centre-stage in this year’s virtual GEOBIM event. The two-day event hosted multi-disciplinary speakers and showcased adoption of construction technology in the face of the pandemic, alongside the advancement of GEOBIM ecosystem to overcome the perennial challenges like productivity, data interoperability & workflow integration. GEOBIM 2020 reinforced the importance of data-driven decision making in the construction world, which is facing growing uncertainties due to closing of construction sites, shortage of labour and unavailability of materials owing to supply chain disruption.

Digital Technologies, AEC Industry & COVID

The pandemic induced challenges have inadvertently accelerated the digitalisation and data collection processes in the construction site. Menno De Jonge of Royal BAM Group informed the audience of unique approaches his fellow designers adopted to share design briefs and plans during the major lockdowns, which included AR & VR solutions and 360 degree photographs of the site. He went on to add ‘Autodesk 360, Bentley Synchro Software, etc. played a major role in overcoming challenges of collaboration’, indicative of the surge in mobile & cloud computing platforms in BIM. Building the project digitally prior to building it physically was the motto, he added. 

The role of geospatial technologies in monitoring & evaluation of site progress & workflow has been on the rise recently, Drones/ UAVs have become a dependable tool to conduct such studies across the world. Gamuda’s Ronan Collins presented the role of Drones in measuring work progress on construction sites, he added ‘BIM is playing an active role in linking model with photos using drone’ and observed its benefits for remote site inspection. Anne Kemp from SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins emphasised the role of digital connectedness (connected technologies) to enhance interoperability. ‘Stakeholder engagement is getting easier’ She said, adding ‘Designers getting to know about shortage of materials from suppliers and contractors which in turn is helping them to strategize properly’. 

Infrastructure Lifecycle & GEOBIM

Lifecycle management has grown in priority for both building and infrastructure assets. Stakeholders in construction sector have realised the importance of sustainable asset management for economic and ecological benefits. Marc Goldman of ESRI presented the major benefits of bridging the gap between physical & digital world when it comes to infrastructure, in order to increase operations & portfolio efficiency, solve physical issues faster, decrease risk, & achieve sustainability goals. GEOBIM solutions enable functionalities like uninterrupted flow of  building information, efficient asset information management, and integrated information of supply logistics which subsequently facilitate smart infrastructure & asset management.

Paulus Eckhardt of Ballast Nedam informed the audience of the BIM4Project framework, wherein the organisation has carefully developed a 7 phase cycle of BIM projects from the conceptualisation stage to O&M. Paulus presented a case study of integrated GIS & BIM solution for sheetpiles replacement of a built asset, and indicated the importance of 3D-GIS visualisation & BIM reality model to determine design options & appropriate construction technology. Marzia Bolpagni of Mace Group reaffirmed importance of a framework to define the quality, quantity & granularity of information with respect to building information prior to the commencement of construction projects for a sustainable lifecycle management.  

Built Environment & Digital Twins

Digital Twins of cities & built infrastructure enable city authorities and development agencies to simulate various real life scenarios based on changes over infrastructure longevity, implementation of development control regulations etc., to name a few. ‘Replicable digital twins is the need of the hour’ said Lieven Raes of Digital Urban European Twins (DUET), adding ‘Once you develop for one city you can use its application for other cities bearing similar conditions’. Lieven presented the crucial role of AI & analytics in the implementation DUET. T-cell design were prioritised in the development of Digital Twins in European cities under DUET, the design included a holistic database of city geo-data, city flow data, city visualisation client, and built asset interaction client (BIM). 

When asked about the ROI of Digital Twins calculated by government agencies, Roland Van der Hijden of Digital City Rotterdam informed ‘We need to wait at least 7-10 years in order to get to conclusive results in terms of ROI’. He views Digital Twin as multi-disciplinary solution for city authorities, Digital City Rotterdam has made use of the Digital Twins in SAFE Rotterdam 3D initiative for fire safety. Christopher-Robin Raitviir of Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Estonia stated the application of Digital Twins to ‘help speed up the process of building permit clearance under the guidance of Estonian government’. The Estonian government has developed a simple UI using BIM based building permission process with integrated rule-based algorithm checks for design validation.

Modern Methods of Construction, DfMA & Automation

Significant shift in behaviour of construction procurement process tilted towards vertical integration. This has enabled uptake of modern methods of construction including DfMA. Cost reduction was cited as a primary factor in this shift, says Nick Milestone of Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA). Fellow speakers Paul Williamson – DfMA Consultant and Jaimie Johnston of Bryden Wood concurred, DfMA focusses beyond the product, namely the components, process and system as a whole. The combined results of product-centric approach and process-focussed workflow has resulted in proliferation of increased standards (ex: LOD 500) and accelerated costing & scheduling process (ex: faster BOQ).

Data gaps associated with upstream & downstream activities of DfMA has led to shortage of structured data, designers, manufacturers & contractors are left to generate data by themselves added Jaimie. This has given rise to platforms like Prism.io which allows stakeholders to conduct feasibility studies, design simulations, and calibrate model based on dynamic changes. The platform hosts multitude of layers including building & geospatial information and underlines the crucial nature of site conditions, surrounding built environments in order to facilitate a decision-driven design system. DfMA solutions are focussed on platform based approach, which uses digitally designed components across multiple types of asset and apply those components wherever possible. 

( Continued on Part #2)

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