BIM Advances – Annual Conference Summary

The Building Information Modeling (BIM) standardization progress has been the transversal theme of the Annual Conference on Infrastructures, held in Singapore in October. Although my Twitter account was practically hijacked with the #YII2017 hashtag in those days, here is a summary.

The journey

This time I had to travel from Nicaragua, a country where I have decided to live in the next few years. No less than 24 hours in the air; a trajectory Managua, San Salvador, Los Angeles, Taipei, Singapore, which added to the timetable shift against the earth rotation implies leaving on Friday and arriving on Sunday at noon. So I have had a lot of time to sleep, which is what comes well on a flight where the only amenities are movies and an internet mono device at least in the China Airlines stretch.

The place

Singapore has been an unbeatable choice for the conference, furthermore from having been housed at the Marina Sands. The country is an admirable example if you go with the intention of asking, exchanging and knowing how a just 6 million inhabitant’s nation can become so prosperous after its independence in the late fifties. It takes a couple of hours to adapt to their “Singlish” version, to the transport system operation, to the cars with the rudder to the right and to that feeling caused by how they do things from the real estate transactions simplicity of the registry process until its impressive three-dimensional cadastral modeling.
Walking through those streets made me revive projects I had only seen at other conferences in presentation, such as the bridge shaped like a DNA structure, the Marina towers structural design or the urban boundary environmental vision.

I have missed seeing more colleagues of the Hispanic context, because this time it has been needed to prioritize media taking into account the presented projects; apart that, certainly, making agenda for such a trip is not always available for many media that were surely invited. Many east media outlets have abounded, and after 6 years of conferences between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, have been prioritized. We were still a total of 130 journalists, from 28 countries, speaking 10 different languages.

The news

In this I have much to tell, but for summary purposes, these are the novelties that have attracted my attention.
The Pavillion Alliance is officially presented. This is the high-level approach that has led to formalizing four major technology, each within its role, in a surprising complementarity mechanism;

  • TopconAs the great ally for the connection to the action field. They have presented their vision and have made interesting applicability demonstrations to the topography, with devices that coupled with ground movement equipment allow to make cuts and fillings that no longer require topographers and cadenet by placing stakes, generating surfaces or calculating volumes. The approach that has been made with Topcon is worthy of recognizing in its last three years evolution, especially if we remember that the first attempt was with Trimble, which was made aside from the moment that was incompatible with their imperialist spirit.
  • SIEMENS. Its vision of the real world objects digitization acceleration presents to us a very close Internet of Things (IoT). They showed us an environment of what we expect with Smart Cities, with its mind sphere and mind apps; knowledge interconnected from the control battery to a power station in an entire city.
  • Bureau Veritas.  Less known in this western context, Veritas is a company focused on standardized information management. It has applications to the real-life objects modeling, from an optical operation processes.
  • Microsoft.  After its constant attempts to stay in the new companies’ competition, Microsoft has achieved a good goal with its Azure network, which serves nothing less than 90% of Fortune 500 companies. Microsoft, contrary to what I joked in 2010, in this scenario plays the role of being the channel where the data walks, where after its successes obsolescence (Microsoft, Windows, SQL Server) and failures related to Business 2.0, they have plan to capitalize on hundreds of Web applications, but almost no one knows.

Bentley SystemsOf course, Bentley is the promoter of this alliance, which contrary to the resistance to change sense suffered by the consolidated companies, has surprised us. It has been impossible to avoid the past years acceptance taking into account that it is a company whose founders are older in age; however, as I wrote lines above, it has surprised me. Bhupinder has presented us a young faces team, and his ability to show tireless innovation, reminds me Greg’s energy who seems to rejuvenate with his inspiring note, which never loses the important moments and the simplicity of taking pictures with the participants, who literally asks phrases that will never be forgotten, because it seems to show a great memory and natural empathy.

With all this, the live chat that Bhupinder and Keith have made, about being prepared for change, has been masterful. Out of aging with their company, they have managed to extend a legacy that we hope will be retaken by new generations, without losing their personal value by the fact of entering into action participation with other companies.

The Pavillion Alliance exhibitions were organized in stands where Microsoft, Topcon, Veritas, Bentley Institute academies and Xtation IX which had an interesting reflected reality dome. These were open all the time, although they had specific hours for demonstration which in particular I found much contribution to the formative part. The Bentley Institute has been in existence for a long time, but in recent years has entered under a focus of academia specialized in BIM, which in this case was shown on three fronts, which, while interconnected, at my criteria delineate the work lines between Bentley and the Pavillion Alliance:

  • • Bentley Construction Academy. This is the most mature line, which is the link that integrates the Topcon and Bentley effort
  • • Reality Modeling Academy. This at my criterion, will be the integration line between Bentley and Veritas.
  • BIM Advancement Academy.  Esta es la integración entre SIEMENS y Bentley.

Time will tell if my perception is right.

The I-Model 2.0 compatible with the cloudBentley launched its I-model at the Charlotte conference, where it intended to remove the DGN file face under a compatibility standard that ordinary users could read. The smoke has been impressive since the beginning, considering that this has been the files conformation form on simple DGN files that with structured XML nodes maintain the whole life of a project from its modeling to its operation. Of course, this has led Microstation from its CAD manager primitive role, so as to be an object controller, ProjectWise has been dedicated to control the operation and AssetWise, the life cycle. CONNECT has consolidated it together, bringing applications to hybrid versions between desktop and cloud.
The I-model 2.0, rather than storing data in files, focuses on storage in the cloud, under data strings quite similar to BlockChain. The I-model 1.0 was already focused on this, but in 2009 who would have thought of talking about the cloud as a priority; we find it a valuable way to stay at the forefront by Bentley Systems, which Keith has presented in a practical vision. With this comes also the I-model Hub, which is an advancement to the BIM third level, where the information coexists in a controlled mega environment.

Modeling reality, closer than ever.   It has been transversal in what has been presented at the conference, and only one word sounds with a lot of echo; ContextCapture. This application was bought by Bentley a couple of years ago to a French company, now has been presented integrated as a product that does the photogrammetry and modeling that Descartes never made. They have even given us the challenge of creating our own models; More than 100 participants have achieved it at the end of the second day, with an application that in just two steps requires taking consecutive photographs with an angle not greater than 15 degrees, and the button to generate the model; a cloud service is responsible for doing the rest, so as to be able to visualize, rotate, measure to scale, as a three-dimensional model, from simple photographs!
It is nothing that others are not doing, although in particular that high-resolution images hybrid management attached to a detailed model that is not affected by the data volume, in my opinion, is the best I’ve seen.
With this Bentley confirms its reason why they do not see the GIS as a thing of great importance. Focused on Geo-engineering, they go towards the IFC standardization, that although it is far, is a well-drawn route and on which all the companies that want to survive will be mounted.

The finalist projects.

As part of the event, the Be Inspired awards have been awarded to 17 projects categories, where 51 finalists have been from a total of 409 nominations. I have been able to see in detail many of the finalists, which in a first memory come to me the guys of the train system remodeling photogrammetry project, using data obtained with drones; there I found a Nicaraguan paisan and a Mexican who by his far factions showed his Caribbean touch. Also a Brazilian project to restructure a water system in a protected heritage zone, I liked the project so much that I almost felt mine when they won the first place in their category. About the others I will speak later in a particular article.

 What’s the use of going to such a distant conference?

It was five days of much learning, in which it was more useful for me to ask than to interpret on my own; consult practical ways to go down to the mortals level of this smoke, which is the way, in our colloquial context, to refer at a high level inspiration . I have, in the short term, to become practical all this innovation, which only tells where things are walking in countries that lead the technological vanguard, and land them in our context that lacks many conditions, where priorities in many aspects are basic and, where in particular more than new technology, what is required is that those who drive the projects apply good planning practices, elementary discipline focused on the processes and materialize in their Individualists actions the good intentions that the government plans and the law have.