Building smart cities with BIM

Building smart cities with BIM



Tony Andrews, Solutions Executive – Asset Management, Bentley Systems


Tony Andrews, Solutions Executive – Asset Management, Bentley Systems, talks to Geospatial World on the role of BIM in the Smart City scenario. Here are the excerpts from the interview…

How important is BIM for creating a sustainable Smart City?
BIM is an enabler in making a city ‘smart’. You have to understand that BIM is not a product, it’s a process supported by technology that would give you better performing assets, and is absolutely critical for creating a Smart City. Others might view the ‘building’ in Building Information Modelling (BIM) as a noun, but for us, it’s a verb. The addition of geo-context to these models only opens up avenues like simulation, optioneering, and better project delivery and maintenance. If you look at the project life-cyle of any infrastructure, you have several teams managing it. One team would look after the planning; another would take care
of the designing; yet another would do the construction; and then hand it over to the maintenance guys. In the traditional build process, some of the asset knowledge is lost every time one team hands over the project to another. You are wasting money at each step. BIM breaks down these barriers by embracing information mobility, making everyone use the same set of standards
and processes. As a result, your asset knowledge consistently increases over the life-cycle of the project. That’s going to benefit
everybody in the longer run.

Can you cite an example of how BIM can be used effectively in the operations and the maintenance of Smart Cities?
Bentley’s Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE), built on Open-Roads technology, allows us to model the infrastructure below in
the ground in 3D environments. So, while building a project, you would know how deep to dig to not crash into a fibre optic cable or a gas pipe or a sewerage line. Your drainage, pavement and bridge designers can work with the same immersive model. Please note that all this is geo-referenced, so, you get true geographic representation. All this is quite important for a Smart City; just think of the entire infrastructure below your feet! We have a host of BIM and GIS enabled solutions for Smart Cities, including
MicroStation, ProjectWise and AssetWise. In terms of buildings, the 3D GIS capabilities of Bentley Map and Descartes allow us to design, model, edit and analyse 3D solids. We can do analyses for line of sight, shadows, lighting, skyline studies, etc.

Would you agree that connecting into existing infrastructure is more challenging than building a project from ground up?

When you are delivering BIM in the context of a city, you never see a building in isolation. A building is always integrated with
other infrastructure, such as, the transport system, utilities, etc. And that’s where the real challenge lies. Let me give you the
example of Crossrail, the 118-kilometre railway line, which aims to connect Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to Essex and South East London through the construction of 41 kilometers in new tunnels. Some of the drilling we did for this project was within centimeters of the existing underground tunnels in London. It was absolutely incredible. Moreover, since we recognise the importance of training people about our processes, we have built a dedicated academy — called the Crossrail Bentley Information
Academy — to provide hands-on training to the Crossrail supply chain on the latest technology and software being used. We
plan to roll out more such academies across the world to advance BIM adoption.

With the UK mandating the implementation of Level 2 BIM on all government projects, do you think governments across the world are finally getting serious about BIM?
Absolutely! And what is great is that we have witnessed a reduction of 20% in capital costs by using BIM at level 2 in the UK. In Europe, France, Spain and Germany have In Europe, countries such as France, Spain and Germany have expedited the adoption of BIM standards expedited the adoption of BIM standards. Singapore has published a roadmap for BIM. And just like the UK, New Zealand has also mandated BIM for major infrastructure projects. BIM adoption is also gaining momentum in India because of the government’s ‘100 Smart Cities’ project. However, the Nordic countries of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland are pioneers in this field because they adopted BIM as early as 2005.

How is Bentley planning to address the massive business opportunity resulting from this?
We are committed for creating sustainable infrastructure across the world. We have solutions for governments, mining, road design, railways, oil and gas pipelines, et al. Our acquisitions over the last five to six years have made us pioneers in BIM-enabled solutions. Our product, Amulet, converges operational technology datasources with information technology and GIS — which is the basis for Smart Cities. With the help of our interoperable, geospatially-enabled hydrologic and hydraulic solutions, even those who are not experts in hydraulic modelling can read our results to detect emergencies, like a burst or a threat to water quality. Really, the opportunities are limitless.