IoT in BIM
What is IoT in BIM and how is it managed, fields of application and advantages
In recent years, BIM has brought the digital era even closer with the promise to make building design processes more efficient but it has also contributed to improving management and monitoring of construction phases too. There are many new technologies, such as the IoT (internet of things), which go alongside BIM and amplify its potential even more.
But what is IoT in BIM? What is it for? What tools do we need to enable and manage IoT in BIM?
IoT has certainly become one of the most important technologies of everyday life, and it will continue to offer several benefits as more businesses and organisations realize the potential of connected devices to keep them competitive. In a Typical BIM IoT workflow, web-connected devices means having specific management software to supervise and control data exchanges directly from the digital BIM model. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at usBIM.IoT which is a consumer and enterprise cloud-based application part of the usBIM cloud integrated system.
usBIM.IoT is a scalable and configurable BIM management system capable of monitoring operations surrounding infrastructures. For instance, IoT sensors can be managed to monitor events or physical changes within buildings, bridges and highways. The ability to access information from anywhere and at any time, brings great benefits with it too, such as cost savings for maintenance tasks, reduce energy costs or improve the quality of our city life with smart streetlights and traffic supervision.
The meaning of the Internet of Things in BIM
The idea of connected devices has been around since the 1970s but the first internet governed appliance was a Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University in the early ’80s. Programmers could check the status of the machine using local network, and determine the machine’s status as to whether a cold drink would be awaiting them, should they decide to make the trip to the machine. The internet of things is also a natural extension of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), a category of software applications for process control, gathering of real-time data from remote locations to control equipment and conditions.
By Internet of Things (IoT) we refer to the process by which all types of electronic devices can potentially acquire their own identity in the digital world. IoT is based on the idea of “intelligent” objects interconnected to exchange collected or processed data. “Things that Think”!
The purpose is basically to monitor, control and transfer information and then carry out specific logical actions.
Let’s see the main fields of application and some practical examples.
The main fields of application of IoT
Generally, IoT is mostly present in manufacturing, transportation and utility organizations but has also found use cases in other industries including:
- construction sector, smart home management, building automation, smart cities, infrastructures, etc.
- agriculture, smartagrifood, precision agriculture
- animal husbandry
- manufacturing industries
- automotive industry, self driving car, etc.
- surveillance and security
From a more experimental point of view, IoT can also be applied to:
- home automation, to manage, for example, refrigerators, washing machines, communication services, etc.
- robotics, the engineering and technology that allow robots to “come to life”, or to make robots do tasks performed by humans today)
- avionics, technology applied to aircraft and piloting, such as communication systems on aircraft, autopilot, etc.
- automotive industry, which studies new applications for cars, such as intelligent wipers that activate themselves when it starts to rain, up to “smart” cars, even capable of driving autonomously
- biomedical industry, for the remote management of patients, up to remote surgical interventions
- telemetry, to develop the transmission of data and information between media.
In this special insight, we’re more interested in understanding more about IoT and the construction sector.
IoT examples: where and how to use this innovative technology
There are many different fields of application of IoT which can be all those contexts in which “things” that can “communicate” and generate information: from household appliances to traffic lights in large cities but the most important requirement for IoT to work is that these objects need to be connected to the network to transmit and receive data.
Here are some examples.
Think of an intelligent traffic light that switches to green when an approaching car is detected but with no other vehicle passing by on the other side. Or cars, initially connected via GPS-GPRS services for insurance coverage purposes. Today many car manufacturers equip their vehicles with on-board connectivity.
What about our homes? We have all seen the evolution from wired home automation, to managing alarm systems, heating and cooling, household appliances, etc., to increasingly advanced wireless solutions within everyone’s reach, characterized by cloud services and the growing use of Artificial Intelligence.
Or even common street lamps, able to vary light intensity on the basis of visibility conditions and traffic or monitoring the state of conservation of bridges and tunnels, roads and railway surveillance systems, etc.
What is IoT in BIM
BIM (building information model) allows the creation of a digital model that represents the digital twin of works carried out or to be carried out.
The real model, or the construction asset can be managed through its digital twin (a model of the asset in a cloud based service) with extremely advanced methods that also exploit integration with IoT sensors.
The IoT technology sensors are rather simple devices, but applied to buildings and infrastructures, can generate a very high innovative potential in terms of managing both the technological and financial aspects for their correct and efficient operation.
Connected to special devices, they can measure temperatures, humidity levels, light intensity, movements or any other types of mechanical or physical information. By combining these results with BIM technologies, the resulting feedback is a real-time connection between the detected data and the 3D model (also use for visual purposes) opening up to an endless number of opportunities in terms of efficiency and project management.
Think, for example, of the possibility of updating the project documents based on the actual progress of the work, of accessing management issues and criticalities and the possibility to optimize the entire process on the basis of such data and all in real time.
In fact, these IoT sensors keep a constant connection between the physical environment and the digital model, opening up new possibilities in the field of project management.
This huge amout of data constitutes a support basis for each decision-making and management phase of the construction process: from the construction site to management and maintenance over time.
During the construction phase, for example, sensors allow you to acquire all relevant data relating to the presence of personnel on the construction site, the work flows, peak presences and any overlapping tasks. They can collect real time information regarding use of machinery, equipment and materials and get a constantly updated status on the progress of the work and supplies.
Thanks to the Cloud platforms, this huge database is naturally available to all those involved in the project, according to a perfectly consistent approach with the Building Information Modeling philosophy.
If you want to implement your IoT knowledge in BIM, do it using usBIM.IoT which uses the information of the BIM model to make an automatic association between the physical IoT device and its digital twin within BIM workflows.
All data recorded by the sensors are sent in real time to the usBIM application which acquires, analyzes and shows the information appropriately re-arranged on the BIM model in the IFC open format.
The BIM model comes alive by changing its characteristics based on the data each sensor transmits with real-time visual changes on the digital twin within the BIM (based on the values of the physical device) allow precise control even on large environments with tens of thousands of devices.
Thanks to the three-dimensional model and the federated visualization system offered by BIM, you get a breakdown into subsystems and top-down navigation of the IoT ecosystem.