InfraBIM Open 2023: Inspiring Ideas for Next-Generation Geotechnical Modeling

InfraBIM Open is an annual event that brings together infrastructure industry professionals to explore and discuss the latest trends and innovations in Infrastructure Building Information Modeling (InfraBIM) and its impact on the digitalization of the construction industry. This year the event was held in my hometown, Tampere, Finland, so it was a prime opportunity to gather insights and takeaways from industry leaders. For this article I have compiled some of the most interesting highlights from geotechnical information modeling perspective.

Day 1 Recap: The future of Landscape BIM and Geotechnical Modeling

On the first day of the event my personal highlight was a lecture on the use of BIM in landscape design, the approach and the solutions developed by the French. The lecture focused on an example project of a highway section, where traditional 2D plans were used as the basis for 3D modeling. During the planning phase, the data was enriched with geospatial information, which the French team was then able to leverage for example by replacing point-type objects, such as trees and other vegetation with 3D objects.

In addition to integrating the existing workflows into BIM world I also found interesting that the models could be exported to Epic Games’ Datasmith format for use in a powerful Unreal (Game) Engine. Existing simplified objects in the model were easily replaced with complex and visually rich 3D objects with Unreal Engine. The engine was used not only for creating impressive visualizations but also for simulating vegetation growth stages, weather events, time of the day and year, and visibility analysis in each case.

The lecture filled me with inspiration and insight into the future of BIM usage in context of landscape design. In the future, geotechnical engineering challenges, such as stormwater management will also need to be incorporated into the landscape BIM. After all stormwater management is a crucial part of landscape design, as the amount and the type of vegetation can be used to reduce the accumulation of runoff and to decrease pollutant load. It would be interesting to explore the use of the Unreal Engine in future projects. For example, in visualizing building of excavation site’s retaining wall elements with a function of time thrown in.

Day 2 Recap: Innovative Data Management for Geotechnical Modeling

From the second day, I would like to highlight a lecture by a Swedish multidisciplinary consultant who presented a data management and a software solution for storing geotechnical data and presenting the data in 3D model format. The presenter emphasized the importance of a digital geotechnical data management concept that could be used from the beginning of the design process until the end of time. There is often significant information loss between different construction phases and stakeholders due to the lack of proper data and asset management tools. To overcome this, they developed a GeoBIM database, which today holds data of more than 250,000 boreholes and has made it possible to develop various applications further.

The presentation put few applications developed using the GeoBIM database in spotlight, such as uncertainty models for bedrock models, objective evaluation of design values based on Multi Variate Analysis, machine guiding models for remediation of contaminated soil, and more. All the data from sampling, laboratory, geophysics, and groundwater were stored digitally making it possible to get a more precise and detailed interpretation of the construction site.

A solution like GeoBIM appears to be very promising and easily applicable to Finnish projects in the future. By using such a solution, data would be readily available within a GIS interface as well as data models throughout the lifecycle of a project. Also, geotechnical analyses would be easier to execute and automate with the help of a competent database.

In Conclusion

To summarize, the construction industry’s shift towards a more intelligent and environmentally conscious future is a crucial and necessary step forward. This endeavor necessitates cooperation and transparent discussions among experts and organizations to drive innovation and advance the field. BuildingSMART is at the forefront of this effort and we at Sipti Infra are an active participant in this initiative. InfraBIM Open is a valuable platform for exchanging ideas and perspectives to promote further growth and development. Through collaborative efforts, the construction industry can build a more sustainable and promising future for us and the generations to come.

Hope to catch you all in the next BuildingSMART event!

This blog post was written by Jimi Koivuoja