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.
Inter-SDO coordination for spatial integration
Although location is a major issue for information technology (IT), it is only a minor issue for most IT standards development organisations (SDOs). SDOs involved in many other domains follow the work of the OGC so their locationrelated protocols will stay in the mainstream of location communication.
Each of the OGC activities below relate to the built environment. Each is evolving in the context of other existing and emerging standards from other SDOs. CityGML and the OGC Sensor Web Enablement standards are relatively mature and they have been widely implemented in software.
»CityGML: OGC standard for 3D geoinformation and urban models. A key spatial ‘connector’ between GIS and BIM, CityGML complements buildingSmart International (bSI) Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs), which provide a basis for interoperability among BIM and CAD systems.
»SWE:OGC Sensor Web Enablement suite of standards to make sensors and sensor data discoverable, assessable, and useable over networks. SWE is harmonised with the IEEE 1451 Smart Sensor standards and SWE includes PUCK, originally developed for oceanographic applications. PUCK can be useful in any sensor network containing RS232 or ethernet-connected instruments.
»3D portrayal: A candidate OGC standard service interface for Web-based scene graph rendering and image based rendering of 3D city models. Development has involved communication with COLLADA and X3D and depends on W3C’s HTML5 and the Khronos Group’s WebGL. It is compatible with OpenStreetMap formats.
»IndoorGML: A common schema framework for interoperability between indoor navigation applications. Work proceeds in communication with ISO/ TC204 and IEEE RAS efforts to extend existing standards to cover indoor space as well as outdoor space in a seamless way.
»OGC SWE for IoT Standards Working Group: Addresses requirements not fully addressed by existing SWE standards: compact encodings and protocols for battery-powered wireless sensors, location/navigation in small areas, navigation-to-thing, contextspecific ‘around me’ use cases, visualisation in 3D city models and indoor models, space-time web navigation, big data, massive transaction rates, semantic translation and privacy and access controls.
»OpenPOIs: OGC initiative to build a global, comprehensive database of POIs. Standard development for a POI encoding model proceeds in communication with the W3C AR Community and POI (point of interest) Working Group.
»Mobile for Sites (MfS): Involves a small feature set focused on views, paths, and directories derived from 3D models of sites. A “lite” subset of CityGML for mobile navigation applications. This is a new activity led by Steve Smyth of Open Site Plan.
»Energy and Utilities: The OGC Energy & Utilities Domain Working Group addresses requirements for improved spatial communication relating to indoor and outdoor elements of electric, gas, oil and water services. One related new proposal for an OGC standard is CarbonML, an encoding for data about carbon emissions and carbon offsets, including those related to buildings.
»LandXML: In use for many years, LandXML is a non-OGC XML data file format for civil engineering and survey measurement data. The new OGC Land Development Domain Working Group (DWG) is reviewing the current LandXML schema, determining how best to continue to support existing users and engage with them, and investigating how to best incorporate LandXML into the OGC standards framework. This will also impact the real estate finance and insurance worlds.
Service-based geospatial-civil- BIM interoperability
The difference between file based computing and service based computing is evident in map browsers such as Google Maps or Bing. To get a map on your desktop or smartphone, you don’t download and convert a data file. Instead, a client process on your device links to a service through a service interface (which the average user doesn’t see or need to know about). You don’t get data; you get an answer to a query.
The transition to service-based information systems for the built environment is just beginning. bSI’s open standard IFCs provide a data transfer standard to move data between different vendors’ building information models. IFCs will ultimately provide a foundation for service interface standards that enable communication between Web services. OGC, bSI and ISO TC 59/SC 13 (Organisation of information about construction works) are discussing harmonisation approaches, beginning with civil engineering and surveying data.
As the OGC and its GIS vendor members found in the 1990s, when industry players share the cost of transitioning from transfer standards to service interface standards (and related encoding standards like the OGC Geography Markup Language (GML) and CityGML), all the stakeholders — technology providers and technology users — realise tremendous returns on their investment.
Meeting future demands
People spend nearly 90% of their time indoors and they are carrying mobile devices with robust data creation capabilities. The BIM world is likely to be shaken by the dramatic rise in the use of sensor-rich mobile phones, indoor location technologies, Cloudbased apps for monitoring and control, and the rapid emergence of Internet of Things such as the smart grid and smart cars.
For example, cheap miniature LiDAR devices. It won’t be long before smartphones can laser scan a building or room to match-search or add to a 3D model in the cloud. More and more point cloud information will be created, aggregated and fused with other data about buildings, campuses, sites and cities. Such crowdsourced data from personal devices would impact civil, geospatial and BIM workflows. At the same time, much professionally created data about roads, landscapes and buildings will become widely accessible to individuals. This impending convergence makes interoperability an especially important goal to work towards.