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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Bentley Year In Infrastructure 2019 Offers GIS Refresh

October 24th, 2019 by Susan Smith

Each year at the Bentley Year In Infrastructure thought leadership conference brings a new dimension to digital workflows. Digital Twins were definitely the order of the day this year, and mobile mapping and some other technologies taking front and center stage in the form of acquisitions.

In opening remarks at Monday’s press conference this week, held at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, CEO Greg Bentley said that Bentley is advancing BIM and GIS to 4D. He goes on to add that they have Reality Modeling (digital context), a Connected Data Environment (digital components), iModels (digital chronology), Digital Twins and Digital Workflows. He credited YII finalists with the digital advancements made so far, as their continued search for better ways to solve real-world problems lead to product design.

What stands out about this year’s announcements was the greater inclusion of GIS technology.

Some technologies featured this year included 4D, mobile mapping, multimodal traffic simulation, road mobility, and of course digital twins and digital cities. Helsinki, a digital cities model that is often referenced by Bentley, makes use of mobile mapping and data management from Belgian company Orbit Geospatial Technologies (Orbit GT), specialists in 3D and mobile mapping. It comes as no surprise that Orbit GT has been acquired by Bentley Systems.

Bentley also announced the acquisition of global mobility simulation (CUBE) and analytics (Streetlytics) software provider Citilabs, provider of 4D GIS and traffic modeling. The newly acquired technologies in conjunction with Bentley’s existing design integration and digital cities offerings, enable engineering-based mobility digital twins, according to company materials. Road mobility digital twins converge cities’ digital context (including 4D surveying facilitated by Orbit GT for drone-and vehicle-mounted mapping), and digital components (included from Bentley’s OpenRoads engineering applications) with CUBE simulations – to model and assure real-world throughput capacity for proposed and existing roadway assets.

This CUBE multimodal traffic simulation starts from cell phone ping data that connects and models trips and segment of traffic in a population.

Already used in Singapore, as is Orbit GT, this ability to use this data for roadway assets in the digital twin framework will be valuable for predictive transportation scenarios.

What’s a digital twin? Bhupinder Singh, chief product officer for Bentley, described it as context, chronology, and components.

Digital twins for infrastructure are a digital representation of a physical asset, process or system that is continuously updated and synchronized from various sources. They generate insights, provide predictability and performance optimization. They have characteristics; digital components give digital twins their explanatory power, through design application, machine learning or reality modeling. A Cloud services hub, iTwin Cloud Services, is now available for tracking and synchronizing through infrastructure assets. Digital twins allow us to bring 4D across the whole lifecycle.

New iTwin Cloud Services for infrastructure engineering digital twins will allow users to understand their performance in the real world over the course of a lifecycle, taking BIM and GIS through 4D. The digital context can be continually refreshed with drone surveys and reality modeling as well as information on the fitness of assets over the entire lifecycle.

Some features of the iTwin Cloud Services include:

  • Brings high fidelity images from different sources.
  • Provides design insights that leverage machine learning.
  • Enables better decision making across infrastructure lifecycle.

Vice president Digital Cities Bob Mankowski, talked about how our future is urban. The population of the world’s cities has rocketed to 4.2 billion in 2018 from only 751 million in 1950 (World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision).

China is planning to build smart cities in the next five to 10 years. Digital cities address the complexity of cities in every category: road and rail, electric and gas, water and sewer, ideally with all systems within a city connected and requiring planning and operations and maintenance.

“Singapore is like an iceberg,” says Mankowski. “Much of the city exists below ground, and creating a digital twin of subsurface is difficult, so we combine data with sensor data from OpenGround, a new service.”

Ray O’Connor, CEO and president of Topcon, spoke about the formation of a new joint venture company with Bentley called Digital Construction Works (DCW). More will be reported on this new company, but it is fully separate from its parent companies to allow it to provide specific software and cloud services to customers, uninhibited by file structure and completely federated with outside software programs.

“Our Digital Construction Works company is our investment together to close the gap in digital,” says O’Connor. “Bentley and Topcon have had a relationship for a long time, and wanted to solve the fundamental problem in the construction industry. We couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t get the workflows to reflect more of reality, not just how to do things with machine control and not consider engineering. We started having constructioneering academies, and it was amazing the participants didn’t know what each other did, from the macro standpoint yes, but not from the practical standpoint.”

The end result was DCW which takes the best people who have specific knowledge to help improve workflow, and teach people how to use the tools more effectively. The company is independent with Greg Bentley and Ray O’Connor as its two shareholders and 50 employees so far. DCW CEO Ted Lamboo, formerly of Bentley, and DCW COO Jason Hallett, formerly vice president of Topcon survey division, and product manager and inventor of MAGNET Topcon field, are to lead the business.

Utilities and Government Industry Forum

The industry forum outlined how connected environments can make a difference to utilities and government. Bob Mankowski, vice president of Digital Cities, Zubran Solaiman director, energy infrastructure, Global Product development, and Teresa Elliott, director of marketing, Cities and Utilities spoke of the value of the digital twin for continuous survey for intelligence derived on the project side and bringing value of intelligence to the operational side.

“75% of Europe is urbanized, and very few cities are seeing reduction in population. That presents a lot of challenges for cities,” says Mankowski. The UN reports that China is 55% urbanized now, and aims to be 80% in 30 years.

“Aging infrastructure, environment, social, and workforce problems are exacerbated by urbanization. We believe technology 4D digital twin technology can be a key component to helping solve these challenges.”

Digital context includes engineering data, IT and operational data, to create an “evergreen” digital twin.

In many parts of a municipality, assets are owned by others. People work in silos, so digital twins are a way of federating assets together. “We’re not proposing that an organization build one database for all systems. Typically they have been doing this for awhile, have mature workflows, so asking them to change to another system isn’t going to work. We can federate data from different systems together, and help stakeholders gain insights from a combination of data.”

Some of the emerging tools for digital twins will include machine learning, that relies on large quantities of data and forming source learning for technology. The HoloLens 2 is a selective piece of equipment to assist in this process. Mankowski talked about the differences between the different reality approaches.

  • Virtual reality – put on the headset and be immersed in world.
  • Augmented reality – real world and digital world combined with headset.
  • Mixed reality – capture of technology

Orbit GT brings in survey over time, 3D to 4D mapping, with strong data management capabilities. The CUBE currently is used by the out of home advertising industry audience for a measuring system. Bentley is interested in using this data in the context of infrastructure planning and design for transportation and roadways. As it is already coming from cell phone data from drivers, the data can then be modeled in its environment with other datasets to track vehicle movements.

Topcon MAGNET Collage Web, automated photogrammetry based on the Computervision technology, does the data crunching.

China has a structured program of 5-year plans that define what their goals are from the top down. They talk of what cities they’re going to build, and they have a vast population. “China is highly motivated to build and renovate their cities quickly and deal with urbanization,” says Mankowski.

Some new Bentley offerings will provide geospatial support, such as OpenCities Planner, now available on Microsoft Azure.

OpenCities Map will be part of geospatial.

OpenGround cloud service is for managing geotechnical information.

OpenFlows – WaterOPS and OpenFlows FLOOD are new products for water and wastewater management.

H2PORTO meteorological models are used to optimize operations and impacts on water quality, and how that impacts beaches and water bodies.

Zubran Solaiman, product director of Energy Infrastructure, Global Product Development, pointed out that every utility has a GIS, but do we know where it came from? GIS has existed in many organizations for many years in some form or another, so that there is a lot of legacy GIS available that hasn’t been able to be adequately or accurately accessed.

With data collection, Solaiman says, “By the time you do the first study, change has taken place and  your study is redundant. As you have made decisions, data fidelity, veracity and fidelity causes workflow productivity issues.”

An example of a successful implementation is POWERCHINA, who built data on existing assets within ten months. They used ContextCapture to get digital context, and Bentley Substation electrical to take the dataset and put it into SYNCHRO. This way they had a chronological record of what has happened and  what’s going to happen 30 days ahead of schedule.

Using traditional age-based analysis, EPCOR was looking to reduce on plant interruptions. In so doing, they found 74% of their assets would be retired in 10 years’ time. They began using AssetWise which managed their historical data and also gave them data on the health indices for each asset. They used existing data and found a new value proposition, reducing interruptions by 43%.

OpenUtilities Digital Twin Services and AssetWise Digital Twin Services will provide value to these customers.

“It’s not about replacing technology,” says Mankowski. “It’s about taking what they have already and using bridges to connect it all so that it can be useful.”

Check out the finalists, awards presentations and more at Bentley Year In Infrastructure 2019

Transportation, lodging and some meals for this trip were covered by Bentley Systems.

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Categories: analytics, asset management, autonomous driving, autonomous vehicles, Bentley, Bentley Systems, Big Data, Building Information Modeling, climate change, cloud, data, developers, disaster relief, drones, field GIS, geospatial, GIS, government, GPS, handhelds, image-delivery software, indoor location technology, indoor mapping, lidar, location based services, location intelligence, mapping, mobile, mobile mapping, Open Source, Oracle Spatial, photogrammetry, public safety, reality modeling, remote sensing, sensors, subsurface utilities, survey, telecommunications, Topcon, UAS, UAV, UAVs, underground mapping, utilities, wireless networks, Year In Infrastructure 2019, YII 2019

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