City Information Modeling: an increase in skills

Land planning has only just begun to discover the possibilities offered by digitisation

With the increasingly efficient integration of digital technology, engineering supports cities, regions and communities in their necessary changes. At BG, after BIM, the CIM approach is also gaining momentum. Decoding, instructions for use, and purpose.

The Smart City, focused on improving citizens’ quality of life, develops itself with the major contribution of CIM (City Information Modelling).

Digitisation in the domain of the Smart City is taking off, sometimes still under the name of urban BIM or multi-scale BIM, CIM is in a way a legacy of BIM (Building Information Modelling). It is able to achieve, at the district, city or territory level, what BIM accomplishes at the building level: a digital 3D model that combines and coordinates different types of data to design, build and manage urban infrastructures or support development changes.

Optimising sustainable development

The CIM has ventured, with success, outside the building and its surroundings, particularly in the road and rail sectors. An example can be found in the Grand Paris Express project with the design of stations and its surroundings. “The approach to data in BIM and CIM is the same, but we don’t deal with the same types of objects and the value chain in terms of tools is different. The purpose of CIM is the modelling of vertical (buildings) and horizontal (rails, railway infrastructure) elements in a single device,” specifies Sylvain Riss, Digital and BIM Director of the BG group.

The stakes are therefore similar, but not their field of action. CIM makes it possible for example, to optimise energy performance and other factors of sustainable development in a given territory, but also to model an entire urban territory in all the diversity of its infrastructures, activities and services. With the amount of data – and data providers – that such an ambition implies.

Strong collaborative processes

This is a first and obvious difficulty: “To work from all this aggregated data, we need a collaborative environment, with working scenarios,” emphasises Sylvain Riss. “It is not easy to set up. Formalising these collaborative processes takes time but saves time later.”

The efforts of public authorities will also be rewarded: “CIM is a real decision-making aid for elected officials and politicians. We can offer design alternatives, simulations, incentives, even prototypes. And we can understand issues that could not have been considered otherwise, thanks to the 3D representation and its data.”

As for the engineer, to which transformation should he prepare for? “For engineering, it’s a paradigm shift. The jobs themselves do not change, it’s the project management that does! This is a real boost in project management skills,” emphasises Sylvain Riss.

(Article taken from BG Magazine 2021, updated version on the site)