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Building Information Models (BIM) Demonstrated in OGC Testbed

Sam Bacharach Executive Director, Outreach and Community Adoption Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc tel: +1-703-352-3938 sbacharach [at]
Release Date: 
26 June 2007

Wayland, MA, June 26, 2007 - On March 13, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) Facility Information Council released the first version of the National Building Information Modeling StandardTM (NBIMS) [] for a two month industry review period. The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC) has been helping to promote this standard through interoperable web services using NBIMS and helping to ensure compatibility with the geospatial industry's consensus based open standards for urban modeling.

The OGC Web Services test bed (OWS-4) demonstration, held December 7-8, 2006 at an emergency response center in the New York metropolitan area, showed how interoperability is possible among 3D geospatial models, CityGML and Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs). CityGML applies the OGC's Geography Markup Language (GML) for encoding urban environments. IFCs are an International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) International standard and a common component of Building Information Models. High level decision makers involved in disaster management saw a live enactment of a fictional scenario in which a "dirty bomb" explodes at a wharf, causing injuries and releasing a plume of dangerous radioactivity. The demonstration used a variety of Web-based geospatial information systems to show evacuation management, find a building suitable to contain an emergency decontamination and hospital unit, and track victims. The geospatial and CAD technologies used at the demo event were mainly commercial off-the-shelf systems employing the OGC's open specifications for geospatial interfaces and encodings.

In the scenario, a temporary hospital and decontamination site had to be found near the event but not in the path of the radioactive plume. Building information models (BIM) were available for the area. The BIM encoding used IFCs. Visual inspection and review of the integrated IFC, CAD, and GIS data showed that one building in particular was well suited to meet the special emergency hospital requirements. Thus, the search took less than an hour, and preparation of the site and transportation of patients could begin immediately.

An open standards approach to sharing of information and services between AEC/CAD and geospatial technologies is critical for urban planning, emergency response, homeland security, defense and intelligence as well as many business and legal activities that involve buildings and capital projects such as highways, bridges and airports.

The OWS-4 demonstration relied on CityGML - an emerging OGC standard - for sharing urban models. CityGML is the result of work in the German North Rhineland Westphalia Sig3D organization. OWS-4 participants demonstrated workflows that bridged the general framework for city representation provided in CityGML with much more specific information models for AEC developed by the IAI and BIM guidelines developed by the United States General Services Administration. Participants in the test bed's CAD-GIS-BIM thread extended the OGC specification for Web Feature Service (WFS), creating a WFS-BIM that for the first time integrates authoritative building data from AEC workflows with the geospatial search, discovery and contextual layering capabilities inherent in the OGC Open Web Services architecture.

A 12 minute OWS-4 video and interactive demo are available at

The OGC will soon launch and manage a fifth OWS test bed activity to advance the development of interoperability of BIM, GIS and 3-D models. Contact George Percivall at gpercivall [at] for details.

The OGC® is an international industry consortium of more than 335 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface specifications. OpenGIS® Specifications support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. The specifications empower technology developers to make complex spatial information and services accessible and useful with all kinds of applications. Visit the OGC website at