Public-Private Partnerships: BIM & geospatial push for infrastructure PPPs

Public-Private Partnerships: BIM & geospatial push for infrastructure PPPs

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BIM processes are enabling successful PPPs by facilitating informed decision making among shareholders across the project lifecycle


The Presidio Parkway PPP Project in San Francisco. Geospatial data was modelled, visualised, simulated and analysed in BIM as part of public planning and project execution

Investment vehicles called publicprivate partnerships (PPPs or P3s) have been on the rise in global infrastructure arena in recent years as a way to help bridge the funding gap. They have been widely recognised as an innovative approach to infrastructure funding and procurement that can reduce project costs and accelerate project delivery. Unlike traditional project delivery models, PPPs focus on maximising profitability for those involved and, as such, demand tighter integration among stakeholders, including planners, designers, contractors, and owners. This need for greater coordination is not only well aligned with the benefits of building information modelling (BIM), but BIM processes can actually be an enabler for successful PPPs by facilitating more informed decision making among stakeholders across the project lifecycle.

State of infrastructure PPPs in US
An October 2012 review by the National Conference of State Legislatures showed that 36 states and Puerto Rico have some form of PPP-enabling legislation in transportation. However, many of these are rather limited or are projectspecific. The US federal government has encouraged PPPs through new and innovative programmes, including the Private Activity Bonds programme, the TIFIA programme, Interstate Tolling programme, the SEP-15 programme, the Corridors of the Future Programme, and the Federal Transit Administration’s PPP Pilot Programme. PPPs are being utilised at a record pace because they:

  • respond to congestion and system unreliability by providing high-quality, well-managed projects and better performance;
  • address the demand for transportation investment by providing access to plentiful private capital;
  • reduce wasteful effects of political and special-purpose spending by incorporating financial accountability for investment decisions into the transportation funding process;
  • help align the nation’s transportation funding policy with critical energy and environmental policies by substituting private capital for fuel tax revenue;
  • significantly accelerate project delivery by providing upfront private capital for a project’s full cost.

Globally, the use of PPPs has led to increases in efficiency and certainty of delivery. In Australia, PPPs delivered projects at a price closer to the expected cost as compared with those procured through traditional mechanisms. In the UK, a treasury department study showed 89% of PPP projects were delivered on time or early. In Canada, PPPs led to efficiency gains of up to 61.2% over those done with conventional methods, according to a study by the Conference Board of Canada.

Role of BIM & geospatial in PPPs
In an era where waste and inefficiency are intolerable, policymakers worldwide are looking to expedite project delivery, reduce costs, and ensure that every dollar is invested wisely. Fortunately, advanced technologies and BIM processes can help stretch infrastructure investment dollars from both public and private sources.

BIM for infrastructure is a geospatial– enabled model-centric process, which can transform the infrastructure and asset lifecycle by increasing productivity, improving efficiency, and lowering costs. Utilising of information-rich models provides greater project insight, a ‘single source of truth’ to improve coordination. With its powerful visualisation, simulation, and analysis tools, it can drive more innovative approaches. BIM helps stakeholders move important decisions from the field to the computer where they are easier and more cost effective to make. Stakeholders can develop a shared understanding of the project lifecycle through cross-disciplinary collaboration, reducing design errors and miscommunications, which in turn reduces risk and liability. 3D design and modelling tools enable planners, engineers and contractors to leverage existing GIS information, explore innovative designs and ‘whatif’ scenarios with project investors to test alternatives and simulate realworld performance, develop a better understanding of scheduling and cost (4D and 5D), assess environmental impacts, and provide the public with accurate visualisations of various stages of the project, all while keeping a geospatial context which in turn reduce risk and liability.

BIM and the future of infrastructure
Private investment into public infrastructure projects needs to increase to overcome financial challenges. The rich data that exists today needs to be utilised in a different way than has been used in the past. We need the ability to turn this discrete data into actionable information that drives awareness and wisdom about infrastructure approaches that will meet with future needs. Coping with this necessitates a more holistic approach to planning, design, construction and investing facilitated by a BIM process.