Building information management, better known simply as BIM, has become the go-to digital approach to monitoring everything that is involved in making every structure from tiny houses to massive bridges. Combining design functions of CAD (computer-aided design) and the engineering capabilities of CAE (computer-aided engineering), BIM adds many other disciplines necessary for the full life cycle of a structure.

The idea of virtual design and construction, digital twins and other advanced technology applications encompass not just BIM, but also GIS (geographic information system) and many other Design/Build functions. BIM allows seamless collection of data that can be transformed into verifiable information for the owner for years after the completion of project. In the case of much of the nation’s infrastructure, that owner is a government agency.

Finding a better way to collect and use the voluminous data available in an infrastructure project can be a daunting enterprise. Standards groups are researching ways to make the result more uniform and, therefore, more usable across various projects. For example, BIM for bridges and structures, also known as TPF-5(372), is a collaborative effort of 20 Dept. of Transportation, the Federal Highway Admin., and the AASHTO (American Assn. of State Highway and Transportation Officials) Committee on Bridges and Structures.

The BIM for Bridges and Structures project will build upon global efforts to expand the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) standard to bridges and structures. IFC is the standard for the exchange of BIM data for the ISO (Intl. Standards Organization). Open standards enable the free exchange of information, and utilizing IFC, BIM for Bridges and Structures will develop an open standard for exchanging bridge information in the United States that leverages existing technology so the industry can capture and exchange information reliably.

Among the newest members of the BIM for Bridges and Structures group is Infotech, a developer of infrastructure construction software. They will provide input to the organization to aid the creation of the standards. The company will also be participating in the establishing of a U.S.-based chapter of buildingSMART Intl.

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