Bentley Systems’ founder Keith Bentley used the company’s Year In Infrastructure event to announce what he believes is a major breakthrough in digitalisation of design integration.

Mr Bentley told a record crowd at the Singapore event that the company’s “iModel 2.0” cloud platform and its first new service, iModelHub, qil accelerate “going digital” for users of its ProjectWise Design Integration services.

He told attendees that without requiring changes to existing BIM applications or processes, the iModelHub cloud service, invoking application-specific “iModel bridges” triggered automatically by ProjectWise:

  • synchronises and distributes changes made through discipline-specific BIM applications;
  • aligns semantically and physically their constituent digital components; and
  • maintains immersive visibility for comprehensive and continuous design reviews across all project disciplines and participants.

“With our ‘iModel 2.0’ cloud platform, I foresee an accelerating ecosystem of innovation for true digital workflows around infrastructure assets,” Mr Bentley said.

“To get there, our first priority has been to make possible substantial improvements in infrastructure project delivery and asset performance outcomes, without needing to change current BIM workflows. iModelHub cloud services provide the solution for many infrastructure engineering challenges where BIM modeling has created the potential for advancement, but where information misalignment has limited its value.

“Indeed, we have engineered the iModel 2.0 cloud platform to instill digital alignment, change-based accountability and synchronisation, and immersive visibility as its core tenants. The best news is that ProjectWise Design Integration users can set up their iModel Bridges to connect to iModelHub without retraining users or changing their existing applications or work processes – and without introducing any risk to their projects. If nothing else, the value of change-based visualization through Navigator Web will prove so indispensable, I predict most organizations will never want to do another project without it.

“I would like to personally invite early-adopter organizations to put us and iModelHub to work in your going digital!”

The ProjectWise Design Integration service is relied upon as the “workhorse for work sharing” by 43 of the ENR Top 50 Design Firms. It manages the file-based workflows for project delivery which correspond to contractual roles and which acknowledge the asynchronous and often disconnected nature of infrastructure project work packaging and collaboration. Adding iModelHub takes advantage of Microsoft Azure cloud services to fully enable a connected project – synchronizing all checked-in project changes, and automatically updating a composite project iModel for comprehensive and continuous design reviews, highlighting progress and risks in digital workflows across disciplines.

iModelHub journals all project changes on a timeline, and notifies project participants, based on their ProjectWise workflow configuration, about the availability of relevant changes.  Participants can choose to synchronize (or not) to and from particular timeline milestones, and can visualize, summarize, analyze, and interpret the impact of ongoing changes.

To fully enable analytics across multiple projects, and for connected assets, “iModel agents” can be programmed for each analytics subject, to be notified of project-level changes by iModelHub, and to filter appropriately for efficient incremental updates to enterprise “data lakes,” assuring secure accessibility of current infrastructure engineering model data for compliance and safety.

Digital Alignment
Bentley’s widely-utilised i-model (“1.0”) containers for BIM deliverables makes their native structures usefully self-describing in their own right, but that approach was not intended for aggregation and understanding across disciplines.  iModel (“2.0”) advancement relies upon the iModelHub cloud service, and iModel Bridges, to achieve maximum possible digital alignment across iModels.

An iModel Bridge aligns information from an application’s native format into the iModelHub‘s  registry of semantics, structure, units, and coordinates. Bentley Systems is providing iModel Bridge programs for its applications and for other common BIM applications, such as Autodesk REVIT, and will provide an API for the creation of bridges from other applications.  

Immersive Visibility, Anywhere
By adding change synchronization and digital alignment to the connected data environment shared across ProjectWise and Bentley’s AssetWise operations services, iModelHub increases the value of digital workflows within and between connected projects, connected assets, and enterprise data lakes. By distributing and synchronizing copies of iModels anywhere, the iModel 2.0 cloud platform is designed to support massive scale-out for reliable, ubiquitous, and asynchronous project visibility. For example, Bentley’s new Navigator Web enables any authorised user on any modern browser to access project and asset digital component information securely through intuitive 3D immersion. Immersive visibility includes alignment of BIM models and digital components within their digital context of engineering-ready reality meshes, created by Bentley’s ContextCapture reality modeling software, for instance from continuous UAV surveying.

For the first time, project delivery and work packaging can reliably and accountably “industrialize” BIM, supported by the necessary tracking and management of constant change through design and construction workflows, and immersive design review visibility into ongoing project and site status. And for the first time, this fully connected data environment can enable digital engineering models to serve as the digital DNA for infrastructure asset performance modeling, connected to operational technology inputs and enterprise data lakes through Bentley’s market-leading AssetWise reliability services and operational analytics.