Friday 27 January 2012

buildingSMART - Data Dictionary

Today I attended the buildingSMART Data Dictionary (formerly known as IFD) event. It was a great forum for sharing what countries around the world are doing in terms of agreeing property sets for construction products. Chairman of buildingSMART and HOK CEO Patrick MacLeamy hosted the day and, as always, he was a very motivational and inspirational speaker.

One of the driving forces behind the buildingSMART Data Dictionary is Jacob Mehus from Standards Norway. The Data Dictionary takes the base IFC property sets for a construction object and then extends them for a local country. By keeping a central dictionary that contains a definition of each property in the native language and international English then this becomes very powerful.
It provides a common set of property sets for a construction product in a particular country. The additional benefit is that it allows the translation of these property sets, with their meaning, across international boundaries.

The benefits for international construction manufacturers are clear to see as they can document their product's property sets once and then pass this information internationally. Some big product multi-national manufacturers attended the day and all seemed on board with this vision.

There are currently four partners in this project: buildingSMART Norway; Construction Specifications Canada; Construction Specifications Institute USA;  and STABU Foundation Netherlands.

In addition to this, internationally, other parallel activities are happening. In France the AIMCC that represents 100 trade organisations representing 7,000 manufacturers is working on a project to standardise product property sets. Today, the Germans also presented their work on new standards and in the USA, the SPecifiers property Information Exchange (SPIE) project is underway.
This SPIE project is live and usable to all. It combines IFC, COBie and property sets unique to the US to produce a pretty comprehensive definition of a large number of construction product types.

In the UK, the RIBA Enterprises National BIM Library and NBS Create projects have tried to embrace IFC and create the starting point for a UK engagement with the buildingSMART Data Dictionary. Consider a National BIM Library door. The parameters are a mix of IFC, COBie and NBL defined property sets. One or two screenshots below...

Many consider IFC to be all about the exchange of complete models, but by standardising property sets then smaller parts of the BIM may be exchanged. By defining property sets for objects then all members of a building project may have a schema from which to select what information is required and when.

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