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Why New Daedalus?

Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Sunday
May102009

We need a BIM Lite

Every week I encounter another project which would be simpler if we had a light-weight three dimensional BIM standard. BIM (Building Information Model) is a family of data standard models that fit together to describe every aspect of the design and construction of buildings. The sexiest member of this family is the Building Model, the 3D representation of the space itself. Today, BIM does little for the operation of a building or for providing tenant services. For this we are going to need a BIM Light.

Today the internet of things is becoming salient; the intelligent objects and intelligent systems that run so much of our world are getting interfaces. The agents that run them our learning to respond to our financial systems and with our lives. In return, these systems are starting to share information with us. This interaction is at the heart of new energy, of e-tech. This information is central to new models for emergency response. These changes will be critical to offering each of us improved amenities even as the agents work aggressively and autonomously to reduce our energy footprints.

Direct control of these systems means we will limit their responsiveness to the minimum. Direct access to these systems will ensure that we share as little information as we can get away with. We will not allow these systems to do much unless we, as the owners and occupants of the buildings can understand what we are allowing them to do, and how their responses will affect us. As we have protean businesses and dynamic lives, these interactions and their effects on us our ever changing.

In the IT world, we coordinate loose collections of services by policy-based assertions. Policy frameworks are used to coordinate services that may be similar, but not necessarily known, or operated by the same people. We know what policies refer to if we are describing financial services, or contractor interactions, or customer relations. It is not clear how to apply policy to things, especially things that are run by agents that have their own internal logic and business rules.

We do know one thing about these objects and systems; each is grounded in space. If one of these systems is supporting a customer service, that customer is grounded in space, and the business relationship with that customer, perhaps a lease, is grounded in space. In an industrial building, each division or work unit is assigned space. The natural basis for asserting policy on these services is to tie them to the space that they support. The natural framework to understand the information these services report is through the lens of space, and through mapping that space to the customers and business services supported by that space.

Today’s BIM is too large to use as a vehicle to transfer information. It is filled with detailed structural and performance information that makes it too unwieldy to use as the basis for a service framework. Even retro-BIM, the information collected long after construction, often to support renovation, is too detailed. We need something small and light, the size of a Google Sketch-Up drawing, and expressed in XML, that we can use to visualize and understand services.  Perhaps it can be based on GBXML (Green Building XML), already based on BIM and used for exchanging information used for energy modeling.

Ideally, the new dimensional BIM-light would support easy perspective-based translation to Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). SVG is an internet standard based on XML for defining graphics. SVG graphics are already supported by many cell phones, and by all browsers except Microsoft’s (and Google is working on a solution for that). Because it is vector based, zooming in or zooming out is based on simple math operations  and produces clean sharp lines at any scale. SVG supports the full Document Object Model (DOM). DOM is the basis for interactive web pages, so scripting languages such as JAVA and interactive approaches such as AJAX are fully supported.

A simple light way to exchange three dimensional building models would improve owner and occupant understanding of building performance. A better understanding would reduce the perceived risk of fully participating in collaborative energy activities, including demand response. A shareable framework for visualizing information from building services would improve both the safety any occupants inside a building during an emergency and that of emergency responders.

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