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BIM for civil engineering

In preliminary engineering, BIM tools and processes facilitate the creation of accurate 3D conditions and models of a project. Having these real-world context models help civil engineers identify potential problems and impacts earlier in the process

BIM, or building information modeling, is a collaborative process driven by the creation and exchange of relevant digital information throughout the lifecycle of a built asset. In similar ways seen in building design and construction, civil engineers can take advantage of the benefits of BIM at all stages of an infrastructure project lifecycle.

For example, in preliminary engineering, BIM tools and processes can facilitate the creation of more accurate 3D conditions and models of a project. Having these real-world context models can help civil engineers identify potential problems and impacts of their design earlier in the process, when making changes is less costly overall.

Take the Eastside Tunnel project in New York City, for example. In that project, using BIM tools and a reality capture process to generate the existing conditions model of the Grand Central concourse, the LiRo Group was able to uncover over 800 serious issues.

In another project, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality was able to reduce the 18-month construction period on a project to 8.5 months by changing construction decisions in the preliminary design phase of the project.

One more example is the InterCity Sørli-Brumunddal project. According to Ramboll Sweco ANS, combining BIM workflows with tools to speed up processes for planning, design, decision making and approvals, enabled them to estimate savings of up to 30 percent in calendar time compared to the more traditional design process.

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The benefits of BIM processes are augmented by the availability of accurate data. Design teams can more easily make better, more informed decisions with high quality, reliable data. Enabling the use of this robust data model in design is where a tighter connection between GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, and BIM can play a central role.
Software leaders, Autodesk and Esri believe that working together to create direct, faster, and more transparent data flows between their systems will enable customers to positively impact the way they design and build things. Their vision is to enable GIS professionals and civil designers and engineers to work more seamlessly together – more tightly connecting insights into the natural and built environment with the understanding about the infrastructure assets needed to support the communities. By streamlining information exchange between BIM and GIS, organizations can more responsibly consider the natural environment and set achievable goals for sustainability and resiliency in their designs.

BIM is driven by the creation and exchange of relevant digital information through the lifecycle of a built asset. What could be more relevant than the integration of location intelligence and BIM model information? Creating an interface between GIS and BIM will help to lower costs, reduce waste, and facilitate the coordination of logistics scheduling. Authoritative information shared between designers, builders, and cities can ensure that projects finish on time, within budget and with less negative impact on the community.
More importantly, the collective set of information generated from these efforts can then be made available to future projects for regulation reporting, impact and risk analysis, and the like. Cities should be able to analyze and visualize all this robust data to monitor the health of their assets and inform ongoing maintenance requirements.

When it comes to the concept of smart cities, we should think of a smart city as one that uses data to make better, more informed decisions. It isn’t simply about putting sensors on everything and monitoring the output of the sensors. Smart cities are those cities that use that data to help plan for, design, and build future infrastructure – using data and technology to help foster community engagement, make work easier, life better, and access to services faster.

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