Paper draft – How BIM can use Big City Data

master siteThe following draft is my attempts so far to write a paper on the use of BIM within a building operating system, there is so much to read, and follow up on this subject, and so many discussions to have.


The use of BIM within the design process is now becoming established, both at design stage and during the construction phase as multiple designers use the same model base to add functions to the design via engineers, Heating ventilation and electrical and other participating professionals.

This paper will look at how a building’s central control program can use not only the IFC (a  platform neutral, open file format specification.) file, but integrate it with a host of external smart, city wide data now being generated in many of the larger cities, to give real time references for control of such things as lighting, heating and cooling.



Big City Data,Data,Sensor,Cloud cover, Sun, solar, PV, Pedestrian, BIM,domestic, commercial, industrial, timer,control, IFC, Construction, Materials, CAD, Vectorworks, Autocad,Archicad,Microstation, DWG, Model, Georeferenced, Location, Geospatial, Planning,


Building of the IFC model

As the build design progresses from a glint in the designer’s eye, and the wishes of a client are drawn into a design, first as a pencil sketch then as a 3D computer model, using components to draw rather than simple lines. Vast amounts of data  are being embedded into the model via these components using manufacturer’s technical literature and standard data from Cibse and other government labs,  together with rules that govern the placement and use of that material. The technique is  called BIM, or building information management.

The impact of using BIM this way, is transforming the design process and building sequence. The client, seeing all the changes, is told that it will be in his or her benefit, streamlining the build process, reducing redundant design processes and controlling costs and waste.

Although the many 3D CAD packages will more than likely retain their individual file formats and methods of working, platform neutral models do exist to allow them to collaborate, IFC being the most dominant.


Buildings automation link to external data

The 3D Model is not limited to the planning and construction phases, once the building is complete and handover to the client is arranged, maintenance of the building can easily be orchestrated using the model and specifications it can generate.

Enlightened clients could take the IFC model and all the rich data it contains, and use it to help run the building more efficiently, from the initial control of people, and their movement within the building from security of access to the semi automation of services. but this is still using the model to generate flat 2D views with little or no automated interaction

Anjomshoaa I (2014) Blending Building Information with Smart City Data, breaks this simple autonomous link and introduces the concept of extending and integrating the IFC open platform format 3D models together with internal building sensor data and city wide sensor data that is now being generated with a central building control program, that might have the ability to interrogate incoming weather, compare it to the model and apply rules to calculate temperature gradients, and possible condensation risk, adapting the heating system as required, doing away with the strict time and general season clockwork approach with a more realistic knowledge based system, based on imminent weather change, using the external data it can find from local and long range sensors located across cities.

The Rise of the Smart City

A vast number of large cities are now becoming, what can only be described as Smart, perhaps this is a little bit exaggerated, but in essence correct, as the old copper wire communication network is replaced with city wide fibre optic and WiFi networks capable of massive data transmission rates augmented  with a variety of network aware objects generally called the Internet of Things like sensors, which can collect data on incoming cloud cover, temperature, humidity wind speed, and a host of traffic movement. Internal sensors place on and within a building are also becoming common place running autonomously from simple temperature to more sophisticated control of solar generated power and hot water.

Solar collectors, which are increasingly being incorporated into new building designs and retrofitted onto existing buildings, for power generation for both internal use and for supply to the national grid, increasingly require sophisticated sensors to predict sun path movement, and cloud cover to increase efficiency, could easily incorporate external data from regionally located sensors to help predict cloud cover, correct angle of incidence to the sun, plus incoming danger of high winds buffeting large solar arrays.

The HiTemp project run by Birmingham University 2014, funded the placement of 28 sensors split into three different types to collect data ready for collection, all having having individual URL addresses. a host of different sensors and all powered by small solar PV cells.

These sensors place on existing infrastructure such as lamp posts,  together with  public and private buildings are recording and freely transmitting a host of information such as  GPS position, wind speed,rainfall, temperature, cloud cover, and humidity, which can be used by clients buildings that incorporate BIM data within a Building Management System (BMS) using programs like DeviseNet, creating what Batty M,2012, Smart Cities of the Future, describes as the WoB, ( Web of Buildings )

Mobile phone users can also play a part in the smart city, texting, on twitter, and social networks the comparison of weather data against social media comments will provide useful comparisons (Caragliu, A.,)

From the domestic, through to the larger commercial and industrial level, the current static temperature control systems so often rely upon a simple timer, to control the heating system, secondary local thermostats try to limit heat to individual radiators or zones, and are slow to react if at all,  to external temperature change, having no knowledge of the external environment and the way the structure of the building they are heating will react to temperature change, and public use, resulting in overheating damaging condensation reversal and inefficient boiler use.


The Internal Brain

It is the link between the building control program, and the external data that is the next big step in the development of the Smart city,which will provided leaps in efficiency and due in part to correct use of fuel, and its generation, to correct maintenance and material specification.

Questions such building security, access by emergency services such as police and fire brigade for floor plans and lift, window and door control need to be answered, plus autonomous selection of the best available power supply, Solar, heat pump, or national grid. Plus the interoperability between buildings, for they should share equally.


Anjomshoaa I (2014) Blending Building Information with Smart City Data,

Birningham University 2014 HiTemp

Batty, M, 2012. Smart cities of the future. THE EUROPEAN PHYSICAL JOURNAL SPECIAL TOPICS, 214, 481–518.



B.Cohen,“Urbanization in developing countries:Current trends,futureprojections,andkey challenges for sustainability,” Technol. Soc., vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 63–80, 2006.


  1. Nations, World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, Highlights and Advance Ta- bles (Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP. 228). New York: United Nations Publications, 2013.


G.K.Heilig,“World urbanization prospects the2011revision,”U.N.Dep.Econ.Soc.Aff.

DESA Popul. Div. Popul. Estim. Proj. Sect. N. Y., 2012.


  1. Anjomshoaa, F. Shayeganfar, A. Mahdavi, A. Tjoa (2014). Toward Constructive Evi-

dence of Linked Open Data in AEC Domain, E-Work and E-Business in Architecture, Engineering and Construction, Proceedings of the European Conference on Product and Pro- cess Modelling 2014 (ECPPM 2014)


HiTemp Project Birmingham City University Research project – Birmingham Urban Climate Lab (BUCL),(


BBC News) Tomorrow’s cities: How big data is changing the world (


Six ways to design humanity and localism into Smart Cities | The Urban Technologist (Web ) accesses 10/05/2015


The Programmable City | How is the city translated into software and data, and how does software reshape the city? (Web )


Dennis Andrew Raspberry Pie Home Automation Packt publishing


Lapierre, A., and P. Cote. “Using Open Web Services for urban data management: A testbed resulting from an OGC initiative for offering standard CAD/GIS/BIM services.” Urban and Regional Data Management. Annual Symposium of the Urban Data Management Society. 2007. ( 10-05-2015 )


Eastman, Chuck, et al. BIM handbook: A guide to building information modeling for owners, managers, designers, engineers and contractors. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.


Knutt, E, 2015. Are we smart enough to build smart cities. Construction Manager, May 2015, p.10


Knutt, E, 2015. State of the Smart. Construction Manager, May 2015, p.21-26.


Wikipedia. 2014. Industry Foundation Classes. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 May 15].


Cibse. 2014. Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 May 15].


Birmingham University. 2014. HiTemp. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 11 May 15].


Caragliu, A., Del Bo, C., & Nijkamp, P. 2011. Smart cities in Europe. Journal of urban technology, 18(2), p.65-82.


UK Government. 2015. Building Information Modeling (BIM) Task Group. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 15].


Building Smart. 2015. Industry Foundation Classes. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 15].


Wikipedia. 2015. Building management system. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 15].


BSI. 2015. PAS 181 Smart city framework. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 15].

BSI. 2015. PAS 182 Smart city concept model. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 15].

Fully transparent solar cell

Samil streetIf there is ever a game changer in the near future, within Architecture, then this is it, fully transparent solar cell that is see through and will collect solar energy. In August 2014, researchers at Michigan State University have created a fully transparent solar concentrator, which could turn any window or sheet of glass (like your smartphone’s screen) into a photovoltaic solar cell. The excellent article on the Extreme Tech web site has more. With the introduction of Elon Musk’s new battery and ever increasing alternative methods of storing energy, this new technology is the game changer.

At the simple end, replacing the current glass with the new, is going to be a substantial task, but fitting it to new buildings is going to push the design of buildings into almost fully glassed enclosures. But the real problem for both new build, but more for the existing stock, with be gathering the power and feeding it to a storage array, notably Elon Musk’s battery. But it will change how we will use glass in the future.


Marionette, CAD cross-platform visual-scripting

Big City DataMarionette, the CAD software market’s first true, cross-platform visual-scripting modelling environment. Now available in Vectorworks 2016.This article on Architosh outlines the vision. will it be a game changer in the CAD market, I think so, One of the problems I have encountered with transferring BIM models about, is the rules tend not to work, well hopefully this lead from Vectorworks will work, certainly the talk from the conference is good.

Big City Data follow up

Flat IronYesterday, I went to CIAT in London to view applications for membership, in the most part, they were just fine, in fact most were excellent, , but having time on the train I managed to get some reading done, and also follow a lead I have been looking at for a couple of days, on the Science of Cities, all part of my Big City Data follow up  thing, and I happened upon this paper by, well a group of writers actually :

M. Batty,a, K. Axhausen, G. Fosca, A. Pozdnoukhov, A. Bazzani, M. Wachowicz, G. Ouzounis, and Y. Portugali

Although I think a man called  Michael Batty CASA could well be the lead,  called  “Smart cities of the future“. Although written in 2011, its still valid and forward looking, given the pace of change and of course, technology in this sector, thats some going, and was the subject reading of almost all my trip to London and back.

You can see the main site at were Michael Batty CASA, writes extensively on the smart city and were there are plenty of links and papers to follow up  on the subject.

Its a pity that he does not delve into the construction and distribution of cables in both new and refurb, and perhaps the biggest area, the way WoB and IoT might well benefit the health and functioning of buildings in a smart city, may be he does, I have yet to cover all the site.

In all, I recommend this paper as a first read, on Big City Data and the Science of cities of the future, and one I shall come back to in future posts.



Big City Data – BIM IoT and WoB

WOBIt seems as I do more and more research into the Big City Data, there are specific sections that are lining up to be dominant. Todays title are the basic outline of these, Big City Data – BIM IoT and WoB sectors.

Buildings as I made you aware in my “Big Data is bigger than you think” article can and should suck up as much freely available data that is generated by its surrounding structure, but there needs to be a reciprocal approach in giving back and having a two way dialog.

We see this happening with objects, devices like kettles, fridges and the like communication to who ever they are linked to  this seems to be collected under the title of the Internet of Things  “IoT”,

Buildings talking back now comes under the heading of Web of Buildings “WoB”, a good start to understanding this is a very short paper by Amin Anjomshoaa, of Vienna University of Technology, the diagram included in the paper, shown above, I think is a great start.

There are several reference papers cited, but the more I look onto the internet, and tech citation sites there seems to be little to expand this idea.

Certainly, the rich database of BIM information we use in the construction phase need not be used, and certain information like the basic 3D model, might well be sensitive, same goes for energy usage, would we want this in the public domain, some might, it could be there are several levels of access, police and fire service, general public and service companies like water or electricity.


Solant Uni Southampton


Big Data is bigger than you think

Birmingham Sensor Network
Birmingham Sensor Network

Big data is bigger than you think, and it gets bigger every second, and so far shows no sign of slowing down. in in 2010 Google chief executive Eric Schmidt noted that the amount of data collected since the dawn of humanity until 2003 was the equivalent to the volume we now produce every two days.  the last date I can find, for data volume created in 2011 ,we created 1.8 zettabytes (or 1.8 trillion GBs) of information, which is enough data to fill 57.5 billion 32GB Apple iPads, enough iPads to build a Great iPad Wall of China twice as tall as the original. I put the last comparison in, simply because I have no idea of numbers this big and the storage required to hold it.

According to IBM, every single day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. IBM argues that the exponential growth of data means that 90 percent of the data that exists in the world today has been created in the last two years. “This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, e-commerce transaction records, and cell phone GPS coordinates, to name a few.”

Birmingham, a city I grew up in and have lived for a good proportion of my life, is on the leading edge of the Big City Data, in a project called HiTemp, a team from Birmingham University have place  280 wifi enabled sensors  across the city, which are sub divided into three main groups :

  • Network 1 (coarse array): 30 AWS will be sited in primary electricity sub-stations (average spacing of 3km)
  • Network 2 (wide array): 150 air temperature sensors located on schools (one in every medium super output area (MSOA), or areas containing a population of 7,200)
  • Network 3 (fine array): 100 air temperature sensors located on lampposts in the CBD (50/km2)

A map of all the above can be seen on a live map showing the location of each sensor,  see todays photo, clicking on each sensor, takes you to the sensor page, which has a link to the data feed, and here we get all the info we need, live, from air pressure to solar radiation, to wind direction and speed, and more, each of these can be drilled to show the last three months of data.

The point of all this research is that we are now in a position to design houses, offices and almost any building, that can use this data to manage its own energy or more, say the sensors in Birminghan showed cloud cover increasing to the west, a building watching this could prepare, making sure its own solar array was getting the best energy, it could also team up with other buildings in a local a network to pool resources till the cloud cover opens up, and by looking at the sensors in the west, it will know when this might or will happen.

Each building will also need its own sensor array, passing info into the cloud to allow other buildings the same information. We can see this is not difficult and certainly not expensive.

To put the data explosion in context, consider this. Every minute of every day we create

  • More than 204 million email messages
  • Over 2 million Google search queries
  • 48 hours of new YouTube videos
  • 684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook
  • More than 100,000 tweets
  • $272,000 spent on e-commerce
  • 3,600 new photos shared on Instagram
  • Nearly 350 new WordPress blog posts

You might say this is meaningless, but if I can watch the tweets and use an algorithm to detect weather chat, I can integrate that into the sensor data to get a better picture, add face book, and google search, I am getting a dam good picture of weather.

Change the algorithm, and I suddenly get traffic and bus info, and a google message telling me to get to the bus stop, its a little scary, but for me I welcome this its not big brother, its good use of sensor data

Think Tank

stair protectionIn my time as a technical person within a manufacturer, i invented and developed many new products, some from my own ideas, some from other people, and just a few from Think Tanks, or brain storming sessions.

The article below is the beginnings of a lecture I am putting together for manufacturers, to consider hiring the expertise of a consultant like me, who are experienced in new product development,  to lead them down an alternative R&d path trying to look at the internal ways they have relied on for product generation, or not, to consider their own market and those around them, to take a deep look at their own Think Tank.

All construction component manufacturers should at least once a year preferably a lot more frequently, sit together and freely discus the existing product range and possible development to this range together with what products might be added or replace the range.

Making that decision is the first step, but, and its that word again, but, here starts the problems :

  1. The Staffs inability to freely discus the range,
  2. This might be related to the knowledge base he or she has,
  3. Fear, of being shown up, to not not wanting to criticise existing products,
  4. Fear of their boss.
  5. limited market knowledge
  6. The managements inability to let go
  7. To ridged an atmosphere
  8. The list can go on and on………………

The list can go on, simply making the decision to discus the range is good, but the ongoing ability to do this suddenly wains and so often the idea falls apart, or worse is added to the end of a sales meeting.

There is a better way, and that is to hire an external consultant to take a look at the company product range, internal training, if any, literature and marketing and evaluate it, not just the present range, but new  products, current and alternative markets

One route the consultant might take is to form an initial small limited group outside the confines of the office or factory, to tease and coax ideas and concepts out of the team, the idea here is to see what level of expertise the team has, its not about ideas that might change the world, but a fact finding mission to see what makes the leaders tick, you might just get some good leads, but thats not the goal here. I have done this so many times,  and is the real reason for independent consultant, to take time to evaluate the leaders. It might be the company has a Leonardo within it’s ranks and not know it. this first meeting is the time to look for the real people who can add products, and if its there, the blocks.

Next it’s time for the consultant to take this meetings notes and look at ways of developing and leading the team to  new highs, offering ways of looking at their products and showing them alternative concepts and methods.

So often manufacturers are limited in the construction knowledge, they consider them selfs to be experts in their field, and some are, but most are not, they disregard so many peripheral products as meaningless, not part of their profit margin, they loose sight of the real world. Their literature shows this. Perhaps the worst culprits are manufacturers trying to break in to new markets, limiting expenditure, not wanting to commit.

A good technical consultancy, and here I add the word technical for the first time, should start to widen this knowledge base, looking at their market, their research and note keeping methods, and above all, the ways of storing new concepts and ideas, its not alway the case and existing product line can travel well.

Next comes the pitch, the way new ideas are formulated, costed and evaluated. and by who, all the above work, might come to an abrupt end if it goes to a committee where any block might reside, this might be the “not invented here” block, or simply how can outsiders possibly understand a market we have been part of for so long. or my budget……….

So this stage needs to be confined to a single leader, the MD or equivalent, who should sign off on a range of ideas, and allow then to at least get to the next stage of evaluation, that of trials and lab testing.

The article now can be expanded, and the Think tank idea expanded, I will add sections at later dates that will form a complete presentation.

Todays photo is of out stair covering, its been down a week, and taken some heavy traffic, yet still remains in place protecting, I looked up the product at several distributors and a roll is less than £15,  lasting quite a time, and well worth even the smallest contractor considering.

Leon Musk takes solar to a new level

Carpet protectionIn the video below, Leon Musk takes solar to a new level, and gives a presentation that surely must have the major electricity companies shanking in their boots. It’s not the greatest presentation ever, but the content was very strong, and a massive boost to solar power..

The Tesla Powerwall  is a super efficient way to store solar energy on the individual property, in a single easy to buy unit, no more small battery unit links just a single unit capable of storing enough energy to keep a normal house alive.

Ok there has to be some changes in lifestyle, and we need to transition from AC to DC, which I might add is not the hard as a lot of units are ready there, plus we need a change in a lot of planning law to facilitate roofs to be correctly orientated, plus solar tracking, which already exists, but needs to come down to the domestic level.

Will we see the vast m2 areas of industrial units getting power soar cells, if I was a unit owner, I would investigate this. oh and the work for us detailing it, is an obvious market.

I like this presentation is shows the way, for us technologists, we have some work to do, better roof design, more solar orientation, and better city wide data to help home computers handle and plan the power we collect. Better specification of solar panels, and better internal designs to hide away the battery store, easier electric car charging  and storage. Perhaps even the ultimate goal of small networked groups of houses.

I also like Elon for his open patent comment, and his promotion of competition.

Todays photo is of the stair protection film put down by our plumber, who is just finishing of a bathroom remodel, neat, tidy and alway very clean.


New Moleskin

BeanoWell the title is wrong for a start, I have filled up my last moleskin, and was about to order another, when I saw that I have a note book empty on the shelf, I think a christmas gift, so not to waste a perfectly good note book, I have pressed it into service.

The paper is well cheap and does not have the feel or quality of a moleskin, but I can manage. Plus there is no elastic binder to keep it closed.

The Students have all managed to upload, on time !, there detailing module, its not often I get them all loading up on time, so who am I to complain, but the last minute workers, and some have been burning the all night oil, wanted advice, so the “Beano” moleskin got an airing this morning.


White Book

Cover-WHITE-BOOK-WEBAs always, I have my copy of the White book on my shelf, its the most heavily used piece of trade literature I have on my shelf, and one I make my students get, before they do any detailing, so I an please this morning to get an email telling me that the brand new White book is out and upgraded.

This video below tells all, and this link onto the site allows you to get your own.

One small point, the guy on the right of the web site is a pain, Why !!!!!!!!

Just as an update, I ordered miy copy two days ago, and it arrived this morning.