By Aidan Mercer
New approaches to building information modeling (BIM) and lifecycle infrastructure involving water simulation and modeling are helping to solve resource challenges and efficiency needs in India. Various cities have taken the initial steps toward becoming a smart city and are now beginning to realize the value of improved resource asset allocation and management while improving the quality of life for residents. Opportunities for investors in India are emerging through these efforts and quantified, measurable benefits are adding performance gains previously not achievable.
Understanding the challenges for India.
Improving the quality of life for the 7+ billion inhabitants of this planet is a challenge. India is at the forefront of meeting this challenge as demands by a rapidly growing, young population seek to improve urban infrastructure for the betterment of society. Enabling technologies is seen as one of the most pervasive factors an augmented, sustainable infrastructure. Whether it's new or existing projects, immense improvements are being sought through advanced design approaches for construction of capital projects. These benefits are tangible, measurable and provide improved quality of life for the citizens of the country.
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, has ambitiously proposed the creation of 100 Smart Cities. Smarter urbanization promises major benefits. Given that several Indian cities are lacking in basic governance and physical infrastructure, meeting this goal will prove to be a significant challenge.
Concepts and approaches for developing smart cities are advancing on several fronts around the globe. In the architecture, engineering and construction sector both a revolution and evolution are underway. At these beginning stages, new infrastructure lifecycle approaches are emerging.
These include new technologies, mobility factors, and performance improvements involving design, materials, methods, applications and operations. But without a clear definition, it becomes apparent that new definitions will begin to surface.
In essence, a smart city will effectively enable the use of technology for enhanced performance and well-being, provide greater return on investment and ensure that the consumption of resources is better managed. In terms of infrastructure, smart cities should have continuous availability of high quality utility services like water and power together with robust transportation networks.
Sustainable infrastructure and growth orientations will also provide jobs and opportunities as well as attractive investment opportunities for foreign investors. For this reason, rapid and smart urban expansion in India is high on the political agenda with initial priortisations being generated for many urban environments.
Seeing the city - more smartly through 3D BIM
It cannot be denied that technology is advancing at an exponential rate. One such example is the recent acquisition by Bentley Systems of Acute3D, a company that has developed a unique method for integrating aerial photographs, and meshing them with mobile images on the ground. This combination results in a stunning model of an asset above or below ground with no human intervention.
This creates a 3D representation so detailed, it's hard to convince people that it isn't a photograph. This provides advancements in design and visualization opportunities that have previously appeared simple and less useful, but can now enable building information models that are more accessible and easier to create than ever before. This brings to light the adoption of BIM as a growing trend that is gaining global recognition.
The government in the UK for example is mandating BIM that requires a fully collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on its projects by 2016. This requirement is driving revolutionary change and the public sector is at the forefront of this initiative.
Change driven by governments is designed to enforce the change needed to deliver positive effects on socioeconomics for an improved society. India is not an acceptation the rule, and you get the distinct impression that India is feeling the positive effects from such governmental direction.
Events in India are a solid gauge for assessing the conditions of the market. India Geospatial Forum and GeoBuild held during 10-12 February in Hyderabad was a swath of eager technology user’s energetically sharing ideas and processes and seeking new and exciting technologies that might help improve infrastructure projects.
Managing and understanding the smarter city
Bhupinder Singh, SVP Software, Bentley Systems, delivered a powerful keynote at India Geospatial Forum. Topics covered included reality modelling and augmented reality that is altering the face of convergence between the physical and the virtual which coincided with the announcement of the recent acquisition of Acute3D.
Showcasing the projects local to India, and sharing the global projects managed by Bentley such as the Highways Agency in the United Kingdom are testament to the adoption of technology to manage complex systems and assets. Showcasing advancements in technology, and the utilization by some major users seems to resonate with the audience, and validates the message from the government - to utilise technology for the improvement of public infrastructure.
A visit from the inaugural speaker, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, President of Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh, was a major coup for the event. The involvement of state officials at events focused on infrastructure is not only a statement of intent, but also highlights the individual involvement needed to ensure the smart cities initiative is at least partly, a success. Indeed, U.S. President Barack Obama had recently visited India, voicing his support for the smart city initiative - providing strength to the cause and significant optimism.
It can be difficult to assess whether or not users were actually utilizing technology and making a city smarter. A few site visits to Delhi soon shifted the whole smart city paradigm. In particular, a visit to AECOM, a provider of architecture, design, engineering, and construction services for public and private clients, provided a glimpse into their use and application of Bentley's water modelling software and vision for the future.
Unique new approaches involving Delhi's water supply and management were described and Raman Kumar, associate Director and his budding engineers showed ways to go from designing the network models, to performance and improvements, through to operations and maintenance of the completed assets.
From design through to operations, AECOM immediately grasped the importance and vital nature of their work, but the awareness of the importance of an asset management system seemed to highlight the ‘smart element’ and that they needed to provide smarter systems.
It recognized that they could provide an asset management system for better project handover capabilities to the owners for greater management of the lifecycle and consumption of life's most precious resources. This approach, for India, could indeed prove to be pioneering. By achieving better performing assets and projects, they could realise a greater depth of information modelling and mobility that directly impacts the quality of life for the citizens of Delhi.
If AECOM can be pioneers, they will no doubt be a role model for other organizations seeking to meet smart city objectives in India. The emphasis on managing assets, so that public infrastructure is managed throughout its lifecycle is great cause for optimism. A BIM approach for sustaining India's infrastructure is the true testament to its smart city objectives, and a key approach capable of delivering a smarter future for India.
‘This article was first published on ‘3D Visualization world Magazine’