Bentley challenges AEC data accessibility with significant upgrade to iModels

Bentley Systems counts the world's largest AEC firms as its clients.

New cloud synchronization technology and an overhaul of iModels for data transfer help Bentley bring digitalization to infrastructure projects.

Bentley Systems creates software for the largest infrastructure creators and users, and is generally the leader in bringing new technologies to the enterprise AEC market. This year at their Year in Infrastructure 2017 Conference, Bentley introduced a significant enhancement to its iModels technology for sharing AEC information. The goal is to more completely open up project data for sharing across the enterprise and throughout the project to all participants and stakeholders.

iModels 1.0 were containers for BIM deliverables, helping design, engineering, and construction teams manage file-based workflows for project delivery. An iModel would wrap the native structure of a file or data request in such a way as to make it self-describing. The technology design goes back to 2009, when the Internet was ubiquitous but cloud-based workflow was not. iModel 2.0 adds two important elements: a new iModelHub cloud service; and iModel Bridges, to achieve maximum possible digital alignment across iModels.

Bentley says iModelHub will use Microsoft Azure cloud services to enable connected projects. synchronize all checked-in project changes, and automatically update a composite project. Company co-founder and Chief Technology Office Keith Bentley says iModelHub cloud services provide the solution for many infrastructure engineering challenges where BIM modeling has created the potential for advancement, but where information misalignment has limited its value. “Indeed, we have engineered the iModel 2.0 cloud platform to instill digital alignment, change-based accountability and synchronization, and immersive visibility as its core tenants.”

An iModel Bridge aligns information from an application’s native format into the iModelHub‘s registry of semantics, structure, units, and coordinates. Bentley Systems will provide iModel Bridge programs for its applications and for other common BIM applications, such as Autodesk Revit, and will provide an API for the creation of bridges from other applications.  

Without requiring changes to existing BIM applications or processes, the iModelHub cloud service invokes application-specific “iModel bridges” triggered automatically by Bentley ProjectWise, the company’s data management system. Bentley says the results include:

  • synchronization and distribution of changes made through discipline-specific BIM applications;
  • semantic and physical alignment of constituent digital components;           
  • “immersive visibility” for comprehensive and continuous design reviews across all project disciplines and participants.

Randall S. Newton is Managing Director of Consilia Vektor


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