Bandwagon – a party, cause, movement, etc., that by its mass appeal or strength readily attracts many followers - Dictionary.com
Geoworld magazine published an article this month from Liam Speden, the business line manager for Autodesk’s infrastructure planning and conceptual-design solutions. The article is called “Are You Ready for BIM?”
I’ve been avoiding the topic myself as the phrase has become a bandwagon topic. A lot of people are talking about it, but far fewer understand what it means, and so that water gets pretty murky. Now that the subject is going mainstream in the geo industry, it’s time to start clarifying. BIM means a lot of things to different people. I hear some folks talk about it as a type of software, using BIM software where they would have said CAD software in the past. In reality, it’s somewhat more than that. It’s more of a process, or methodology – a paradigm. It’s also a standard defined by the National Institute of Building Sciences. More and more owner organizations, particularly government, are requiring designs that comply with these standards, such as GSA, Corps of Engineers, and recently the US Air Force.
Wikipedia describes it as “the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle. BIM involves representing a design as objects – vague and undefined, generic or product-specific, solid shapes or void-space oriented (like the shape of a room), that carry their geometry, relations and attributes. BIM design tools allow for extracting different views from a building model for drawing production and other uses. These different views are automatically consistent – in the sense that the objects are all of a consistent size, location, specification – since each object instance is defined only once, just as in reality.”
Of course, Autodesk has embraced the concept with it’s vertical construction products as well as Civil 3D for horizontal design. Autodesk has numerous resources of information available on the subject, starting with their BIM page.
So, what does all this have to do with GIS and geospatial technology? Well, more and more often, the geo technologies will be required to integrate. While there are many similarities, there are some differences that will interfere with a smooth transition in much the same way as the CAD to GIS (or in reality Design to As-Built) continues to plague organizations. It is important for geo professionals to understand this technology. I’ll be exploring the relationships and integrations in the comingposts. Stay tuned and join me in the expedition.