From The Council

UN-GGIM, WFEO, and WGIC at GeoBIM 2020

At GeoBIM 2020, WGIC, along with UN-GGIM and WFEO, and member companies Bentley Systems and Oracle Construction and Engineering, discussed the need, challenges, and opportunities of uptake of GeoBIM technologies in the areas of resilient infrastructure, sustainable urban development, and building back better cities.

Remco Takken January 11, 2021
WGIC - GeoBIM 2020 conference - Resilient Infrastructure, build back better cities

WGIC participated in the GeoBIM 2020 as a strategic sponsor. The virtual event has held from 3-4 December 2020, and the event had participants from more than 50 countries. WGIC, along with UN-GGIM and WFEO, and member companies Bentley Systems and Oracle Construction and Engineering, discussed the needs, challenges, and opportunities of uptake of GeoBIM technologies in the areas of resilient infrastructure, sustainable urban development, and building back better cities.

The Keynote session highlights the joint work on ‘GeoBIM for Resilient Infrastructure.’

In the summer of 2020, United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), and the World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC) published a joint white paper [link]. It highlights the value of integrated geospatial and BIM solutions for resilient infrastructure.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9 emphasizes ‘building resilient infrastructure to provide sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.’ Resilient and sustainable infrastructure is the key to meeting the future generation’s requirements and re-build the aging infrastructure exposed to global risks and natural catastrophes.

On December 3rd, 2020, during the first day of the event, Prof. Dr. GONG Ke. President, World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), delivered a plenary Keynote speech, introducing the joint work. UN-GGIM, WFEO, and WGIC on the topic – ‘GeoBIM for Resilient Infrastructure.’ Watch his presentation here:

WGIC Workshop: Building Back Better Cities

On December 4th, 2020, the second day of GeoBIM, four speakers elaborated on the joint white paper’s contents for a dedicated workshop audience. Watch the full recording of this workshop here:

The importance of BIM and geospatial

Marlene Kanga, former President of WFEO, introduced the joint white paper to a dedicated workshop audience. According to her, it demonstrates the importance of geospatial information while it identifies critical challenges to implementation. To illustrate the report’s aptness, Kanga refers to the UN Global Sustainable Development Report 2019, which identified science and engineering as one of four levers to accelerate sustainable development. Above that, Kanga states, “urban and peri-urban environments have been identified as one of six pathways that can accelerate transformation for sustainable development.” Geospatial information, says Kanga, “reflects the physical world in which all human, economic and environmental activity takes place. It provides the digital version of that world with information that enables a digital economy”.

Integrated Geospatial Information Framework for resilient cities and infrastructure

CheeHai TEO of the UN-GGIM refers to cities as an ideal ‘spatial location’ which in the future “will be integrative data ecosystems generating and consuming massive amounts of data related to people, their place, their activities, and their environment”. He propagates ‘an increasing and proactive role’ for ‘smart data-driven approaches’. To reach this goal, the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF) was designed. “It forms a key umbrella for the many activities under the purview of the Committee of Experts, which can be applied to any country to guide transformational change.” 

The Economics of GeoBIM

Ananya Narain from Geospatial Media undertook the research and documentation of the integrated white WGIC, WFEO and UN,-GGIM white paper. Citing the white paper, she looks into the causes of infrastructure disruptions when she mentions natural shocks and hazards and the mere ever-rising dense urban clusters. The costs of these disruptions aren’t exactly mild. Narain pointed out that there’s an estimated $18 billion a year in direct damage to power generation and transport infrastructure, a hefty $300 billion a year directly impacting households and firms, and another $90 billion on people and the welfare of households. Interestingly, reaching over $4 trillion, the investment’s net benefits are much higher. “For every dollar invested, there’s a benefit of four dollars”, said Narain. It’s clear that there is an excellent value-proposition of using geospatial and BIM solutions for resilient infrastructure. That’s not only in using digital design tools and geospatial systems but also in the deployment of UAVs, machine control, scanning, and remote sensing.

Long-term involvement of the GeoBIM industry; a Panel discussion

The panel discussion that concludes this workshop is based on the notion that both Bentley Systems and Oracle in their field both make a mark in the infrastructure market. Numerous building and construction companies and cities use Bentley and Oracle Spatial tools for editing, managing & storing geospatial information. Typically, Oracle provides a database infrastructure where the data resides. The large constituency of Oracle Spatial users together implement the architecture, structured data in an open way. Together, Frank Weiss of Oracle and Benoit Fredericque sketched out the world of geospatial data for construction. Its ever-evolving requirements for openness and interoperability pose quite some challenges to IT vendors. This rings especially true for backward compatibility of data sets in building and construction. A road, a bridge, or a building typically lasts longer than any software edition has proven to exist.     

In Conclusion

GEOBIM 2020 concluded on a successful note for all parties involved. 200+ delegates from 50 countries attended the conference. The attendees and speakers represented a diverse spectrum of the industry stakeholders, taking further our mutual objective of evangelizing technology board in the AEC industry:  architecture firms; building operators; city authorities; construction companies; consultants; engineering firms; hardware, software, and services vendors; system integrators, professional bodies, research and academia; and many others. 

The WGIC secretariat acknowledges and appreciates the involvement of all partners, members, and stakeholders that joined. We hosted an insightful program on geo-BIM technologies for resilient and sustainable infrastructures. The program certainly brought a new dimension to the applications of geo-BIM technologies for the built environments. The WGIC secretariat enjoyed putting the workshop together; we hope all involved enjoyed their time at the conference too! We are very excited about future collaborations!