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information technology
Building Data Exchange Trial Shows Progress Is Under Way

The National Institute of Building Sciences’ buildingSMART alliance and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are challenging software vendors to show they are improving their products’ abilities to pass data across platforms. The trial comes at a time when building information modeling looms as a federal requirement.

At a late July building data exchange workshop sponsored by the Corps and Alliance in Washington, D.C., vendors demonstrated building operations and maintenance data exchanges to representatives of many federal agencies. Leading Building Information Modeling enablers, including Autodesk, Bentley Systems and Onuma, Inc., exported data from their platforms for use with federal COBIE—Construction Operations Building Information Exchange—protocols.

E. William East, research civil engineer at the Corps’ Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Ill., says the results should reassure a federal community confused by impending BIM requirements. “These are things that can’t happen overnight, which has led to some pent-up frustration,” he says. “The good news is we’re starting to make it happen.”

But he says problems remain. “At this point, we can get things like equipment lists, warranties, spare-parts data, make, model and serial number to exchange,” he says. “It’s not everything, but it’s more than we get on most projects.”

Results of the demonstrations were mixed. All vendors showed they could exchange operations and maintenance data using Industry Foundation Class schema, but Autodesk’s Revit system met some criticism for its particular exchange process. Deke Smith, executive director of buildingSMART alliance, says, “What vendors are showing here is that they aren’t just talking the talk, they are walking the walk. People now see that the potential is real.”

The multivendor workshop comes at a time when the Corps has been criticized for requiring a specific software vendor, Bentley Systems, in its Centers of Standardization initiative. The Corps will require BIM on all projects by 2012.





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