TLA overload marks progress to openBIM

A new crop of Three Letter Acronyms sprang up at last week’s BIM Prospects conference from buildingSMART – but they demonstrated that the BIM world is collectively moving towards more open, interoperable BIM.

The conference followed the BuildingSMART international summit, a twice-yearly event to share progress on developing the underlying standards that allow BIM software tools to talk to each other – as governed by the #BCF standard (BIM Collaboration Format).

In March 2013 BuildingSMART launched a new ISO standard for software firms called #IFC4 (Industry Foundation Class 4), which means that file outputs must be configured to its requirements. Anecdotal feedback from one software producer at the event suggested that since IFC4 the transition of data from one package to another had improved “100%”.

From later this year, software companies can seek IFC4 accreditation from BuildingSMART. “It’s a huge improvement – you’re getting better data, and better data transfer,” Nick Tune, director of BuildingSMART UK, told BIM+.

Delegates also heard that the forthcoming NBS Digital Plan of Work, a guidance tool on structuring BIM data, will use IFC4 standards for importing and exporting from other packages.

But data increasingly needs to be transferable between BIM asset models and other data produced in the Internet of Things. Which lead us to #ifcOwl, the data exchange standard that will allow BIM models to link to other datasets in the wider world, such as weather data from the Met Office, or passenger data from Transport for London.

Delegates were also introduced to #bsdd – the BuildingSMART Data Dictionary. This is a project, overseen by a new BuildingSMART working group and managed by Norwegian software company Catenda, to create a “multilingual dictionary” of BIM product data.

Tune explained that there was a need to create an online repository of BIM product templates, including those published by NBS and other providers, that could group products in “synonym” groups – compensating for the fact that people can term the same thing differently.

Users working on BIM models in would then be able to download BIM object data in an IFC4 open data format from the #bsdd irrespective of their language or the product’s country of origin.

There was also #MVD, or model view definition, #IDM, or Information Delivery Manual, and #JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation…

Certainly, there was feedback that an event with an open-doors policy for anyone interested in BIM implementation included content accessible only to those whose working world was software, rather than construction or even BIM. 

“Real progress has been made on the technical side, but there needs to be more effort to spell it out to the industry. Even people like me who work with BIM all the time were struggling at times,” one delegate told BIM+.

And as well as TLA overload, comments on Twitter suggested that some presenters’ diagrams were impenetrable too. Nevertheless, the general response was that the conference demonstrated how real progress on interoperability and openBIM is paving the way to Level 3 BIM.

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