The past few years have been exciting ones for the government digital design community. The adoption of next generation building information modeling (BIM) solutions and new 3d modeling technologies have drastically increased the capabilities of the people that design, build and make things for the government.
And the results have been extraordinary. On the GovDesignHub alone, we’ve seen several stories about how these technologies are changing how the government operates.
Today’s advanced digital design solutions are enabling the seamless construction of new wings on functioning, bustling hospitals. They’re enabling the renovation of a major international airport terminal in America’s most populous city without disrupting operations. They’re making it easier for massive airports to better maintain and repair their facilities. And they’re even revolutionizing how we house the victims of natural disasters.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. BIM adoption has just started to take off in the government. Which means that the coming year – and the ones that follow it – will bring with them even more exciting digital design and BIM use cases from government users.
With a new year upon us, I’d like to share with you my five government digital design predictions for 2020. Here are some of the major digital design trends and priorities that I anticipate we’ll see across governments and government agencies in the coming year:
Prediction One: Continued BIM and GIS integration
I predict, that in 2020, we’ll continue to see the marriage and integration of BIM and GIS solutions.
If BIM solutions give government agencies the ability to design a 3d model of a building or an airport terminal, GIS solutions give them the ability to place that model on the actual ground it’s projected to occupy.
This gives them even more ability to accurately plan and design new buildings and projects. It also makes it much easier to demonstrate the impact of a new project on the area around it. This can be hugely beneficial when trying to get public support or approval for an infrastructure program or project.
We’ve already seen the wall between GIS and BIM solutions starting to crack with the integrations of Autodesk BIM solutions with the GIS solutions from ESRI.
Integration of Autodesk and ESRI products in the past have been in batch mode, meaning there was no real time accessing of data. In 2020, I anticipate that we’ll see progress as more capabilities are introduced that bring the two technologies together, as strategic acquisitions are made on both sides and as the leading companies in the space continue to work to create synergies between their applications.
Prediction Two: Data ownership
This is something that I’m already starting to see get written into RFPs from government users, and government contracts with AEC firms. Today, government customers don’t just want a final product – like an airport terminal or electrical substation. No, they want the final product and all of the data created during the design and construction phases of the project.
The language that I’m seeing in these RFPs and contracts dictates that any architecture, engineering or construction firm that works on a project needs to deliver all of the data about that project when they hand over the keys to the finished product. This means that the firms doing the work need to ensure that they’re keeping tabs on all versions of the designs, all models that they create and any and all changes that are made along the way.
This is certainly not new. However, what is new is that the owners are starting to implement their own software in-house. They are viewing this as the only way they know for sure that they are getting this important data. (we’ll get back to that later).
Why do they want all this data? Well, that feeds into our third prediction.
Prediction Three: BIM for facility management
Today’s 3d models are a lot more useful than the 2d drawings and blueprints that were traditionally created during the design process. These 3d models include practically every system – from HVAC to electrical – in a building, while also allowing for incredibly accurate measurements.
Today’s new BIM solutions also make models and building information accessible from any number of devices – including mobile devices such as tablets. This makes it possible for real time changes to be made to a building and its model on-site so that they’re recorded for future use. This is very much in-line with how the Tampa International Airport is using their BIM data and models.
In fact, in one instance, a government BIM user estimated they saved over 6000 person-hours by automating the BIM to facilities management workflow.
When you combine all of these capabilities, it becomes easy to see the value that BIM models have for facilities management and maintenance. This is one of the reasons why government agencies are demanding to own their data, and something that I anticipate seeing a lot more of in 2020.
Prediction Four: Data aggregation
This is a natural byproduct of the previous two predictions. If agencies are going to demand their BIM models and data from their AEC firms and contractors, and they’re going to use them in facilities management, then they need a centralized repository in which to store and share that data.
If maintenance and facilities personnel are going to be able to access and edit this data on-site, it will need to be housed somewhere where they can connect to it. And, if they want to avoid version issues and having multiple, disparate copies of the same data – each with different information – they need to be sure that their solution allows everyone to collaborate. They’re also going to need to be able to set permissions and dictate who can access data and who can change or edit it for security and accuracy purposes.
I recently talked with a medium sized customer who told me that they had to issue a construction change order of over $600,000 because they didn’t provide the right “as built” to a contractor. Like many customers, they had a data issue and didn’t realize it.
Most view the cloud as the optimal place to set up this repository but there are many who prefer to store their documents behind their firewall. This is where Autodesk’s BIM 360 fits nicely.
All of these reasons together will ultimately lead to more government agencies looking to solutions such as Autodesk’s Vault, which delivers much of that functionality and can be hosted locally, should agencies not be able to utilize cloud solutions.
Prediction Five: Adopting the industry standard
Governments have traditionally outsourced the planning, design and construction of projects (especially large ones). The issue government owners have run into is ensuring what is designed outside is compatible and usable. Many have published CADD and BIM standards, but checking to make sure that these standards are followed has always been a challenge.
I anticipate that in 2020, we’ll see government organizations look to embrace the same software solutions in-house that their vendors – including architecture, engineering and construction firms – utilize during the AEC lifecycle. This will ensure seamless workflows, more information sharing and increased transparency for the government customer every step of the way.
With many of the contractors, construction companies and architecture firms that service government customers embracing the same solution – Autodesk’s Revit and Civil 3D in particular – I anticipate that these are the solutions we’ll see government agencies acquire.
There is also a human resources benefit to implementing these solutions, as well, since most of the digital design professionals of the future are currently being trained on Autodesk’s Revit and Civil 3D in colleges and universities. By adopting this industry standard and bringing them in-house, government agencies are embracing the solution that future employees have the skills and knowledge to utilize.
What do all these predictions point to? Overall, they illustrate that 2020 will be the year government owners claim their rightful place as the organization with the most to gain or lose with large projects. And they will likely be flexing their muscles more than in they have in the past.
For more information about the increasing integration between BIM and GIS solutions, click HERE to download the BIM & GIS Integration eBook.