The BIMprove system is constructed from some loosely coupled data interfaces that each provide sporadic information updates, while the core element, referred to as a ‘backend’, provides highly integrated and near real time information exchange for use in data analytics and visualization services, as described in the BIMprove requirements list.

The main components of the BIMprove data architecture are visualized in the figure above and described in the following:

  1. Proprietary 3D design tools: Building asset designers (architects and engineers) will work using their own applications, such as Revit, ArchiCAD, Tekla, MagiCAD, DDS and Allplan, in the same way as they do today. In a BIMprove context, such tools will output in open BIM (IFC) models that illustrate the ‘as-designed’ appearance of the building asset that includes not only its 3D-geometry but also rich information on physical elements such as slabs, walls and windows, as well as non-physical elements such as rooms, building storeys, zones, systems and design layers. If any design changes are initiated from BIMprove, these will be issued by BCF.
  2. Construction schedules: Provided they exist, highly detailed (daily) construction schedules will be stored in a variety of highly heterogeneous ways, and may be exchanged using IFC (e.g., IfcTask). However, such exchanges will only be carried out very rarely. BIMprove will enable data entry either manually or by another standardized approach, such as by using a predefined scheme.
  3. VR/AR: Data visualization is one of the main benefits of digital twins. Geometry derived from IFC (with intact identifiers) can be presented on demand in VR and AR applications, and users can return tasks/issues to the backend using BCF.
  4. UxV stations: Drones and mobile ground exploration robots are not directly connected to the backend, but communicate indirectly via intermediate stations, which obtain their data from the backend in order to plan their UxV reality capture paths. These paths are based on data from the future construction and its location, taken from the schedule and BIM models. The stations send back point clouds, aligned with the coordinate system of the BIM models, together with geometry derived from the point clouds and thermal photos.
  5. Digital twin serialization: In contrast to a BIM file, a BIMprove digital twin cannot simply be exported from or transferred between construction sites. This raises the question of how a digital twin, representing the sum of all information, can be accessed after the project end date. We propose to develop a strategy for the serialisation of key data, including revisions and time stamps so that the content of the main data entities can be restored outside the system. Our aim is to achieve this as far as is practically possible using open standards such as IFC for BIM, open point cloud formats, open image formats, BCF for issue history, etc.
  6. Construction stakeholders: The various stakeholders will be presented with the information that they have to consider and decide on. For example, a scanning function may be introduced to see if security protection is present when it should be. This will enable decision-makers to inspect the point cloud (perhaps accompanied by a system-generated suggestion), determine whether a deviation has occurred and, if so, decide what the next step should be.
  7. BIM at the site office or off-site: It will be possible to visualise and analyse a wide range of information both at the site office and off-site. Information from scans, as-designed BIM, schedules, etc., will be made available from the backend and viewed on a big screen or in virtual reality. Questions and decisions that require human intervention can be sent to the backend using BCF.
  8. Sensor gateway: Sensor data such as worker or truck positions are sent to the backend via the gateways. Urgent warning notifications, such as a truck reversing towards a worker, are sent directly to the worker or truck, and not via the backend.

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