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Still ‘Going Digital’

Still ‘Going Digital’

Atos and Bentley will offer a complete solution to create and operate digital twins for industry and infrastructure asset owners.

Digital twins and connected digital workflows take center stage at Bentley’s 2018 Year in Infrastructure.

Bentley Systems’ annual Year in Infrastructure conference provides an international stage for the company to reveal its latest developments and highlight recent acquisitions, as well as honor the finalists and winners of its Year in Infrastructure Awards. Keeping with the same general theme from 2017 — Going Digital — the 2018 conference, Oct. 15-18 in London, expanded on that concept with emphasis on digital twins and Bentley’s Open portfolio of applications that connect digital workflows across disciplines and share digital components in a Connected Data Environment (CDE).

iTwin Services

Bentley announced its iTwin Services (available early in 2019) digital twin cloud services for infrastructure projects (project digital twins) and assets (performance digital twins). iTwin Services can be transparently provisioned within Bentley’s CDE for ProjectWise and AssetWise users.

Infrastructure asset owners and their teams have recognized the potential for leveraging digital twins for many uses, including application of analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning in simulations and decision support throughout the life cycle of design, construction, and operations. To realize this potential, digital representations of assets must be synchronized to changing conditions in the real world. According to Bentley, just capturing and representing physical conditions, including IoT inputs, can never be sufficient to understand, analyze, or model intended improvements, without also comprehending the “digital DNA” captured in the project or asset’s engineering specifications.

OpenCities Planner takes advantage of city-scale reality modeling to span GIS and BIM.

A representation of any infrastructure asset’s physical reality can now be reliably captured and maintained through increasingly continuous surveys and Bentley’s reality modeling software, providing digital context in the form of “reality meshes.” Overlapping photographs and (as needed) supplemental laser scans, largely from drones and ground-level imagery, are processed to generate spatially classified and engineering-ready reality meshes at any desired level of accuracy — within which each digital component can be automatically recognized and/or geospatially referenced. The reality mesh can provide an efficient and immersive visual “twin” to intuitively navigate for finding, viewing, and querying the associated information within, or related to, the asset’s digital engineering models.

The challenge in comparably capturing and maintaining these engineering counterparts of the physical asset — its digital components — is the opacity of their existing representations, compounded by continuous changes. Bentley’s iModelHub, introduced in 2017, provides automated digital alignment and synchronization, based on change ledgers, corresponding to the CDE’s project workflows (ProjectWise) or configuration management (AssetWise).

Once populated and synchronized by way of digital context and digital components, iTwin Services deliver their benefits through Bentley’s new open-source iModel.js library for web-based immersive visualization. Infrastructure teams can develop custom applications that connect their digital twin for specific use cases by leveraging a vast open source ecosystem. In addition, a geospatially immersive environment for city-scale digital twins is now available through Bentley’s new OpenCities Planner services.

ProjectWiseCONNECT Edition users of Bentley’s CDE can instantiate cloud-provisioned iTwin Services for any project without disruption to their existing ProjectWise workflows. iModelHub will then create and maintain the project’s iModel — a distributed database, with its intrinsic change ledger updated at each deliverable-in-progress check-in state. For each such update to engineering information, application-specific “information bridge” processing produces digital alignment of the iModel’s digital components.

To the extent of available reality modeling for the physical site, the CDE’s corresponding ContextShare service maintains updated digital context. The iModel’s digital components and ContextShare digital context are merged through Navigator Web and iModel.js visualization, as authorized and secured by iModelHub.

Accordingly, iTwin Services enable comprehensive project status reviews to be continuously available, synchronized to any requested project state on the iModel change ledger timeline, and/or for visualization and analytics visibility into changes between any project timeline states. iTwin Services will also integrate Bentley’s SYNCHRO 4D construction modeling.

OpenBridge Designer integrates modeling capabilities and analysis and design features to meet the design and construction needs of both concrete and steel bridges.


Bentley also announced the initial release of its iModel.js library, an open-source initiative to improve the accessibility of infrastructure digital twins for both visualization and analysis. iModel.js can be used by developers and IT professionals to create immersive applications that connect their infrastructure digital twins with the rest of their digital world.

The iModel.js library is a comprehensive collection of JavaScript packages that build on the most open, popular, and flexible standards for modern cloud and web development. It is written in TypeScript, and leverages open technologies including SQLite, Node.js, NPM, WebGL, Electron, Docker, Kubernetes, and HTML5 and CSS. The same codebase can produce cloud services and web, mobile, and desktop applications. The source code is hosted on GitHub and is distributed under the MIT license.

With iModel.js, users can create a web-based experience that shows interactive “nD” views (1D, 2D, 3D, 4D, etc.) of iModels that are assembled and synchronized from BIM files and other digital engineering models, and from data created directly with iModel.js. Those same views can also include digital (reality) context, real-time sensor data, and other data from enterprise sources and analytics.

Since the iModel is synchronized by iModelHub, it always reflects the most recent updates from all project participants, who are thus able to visualize and analyze changes between points in time or between versions. Only users and applications authorized by the iModel owner, through iModelHub, are granted access through iModel.js.

According to Johan Palm, program manager, Digital Project Delivery at Hatch, “iModel.js gives Hatch the ability to implement a stakeholder engagement technology that extends the iModelHub visionary technology. We can expose complex project information to a level that is accessible, consumable, and extendable via the cloud and in context to the 3D model. Most importantly, we can do so in a manner that embraces change as the project progresses.”

Keith Bentley, Bentley Systems’ founder and CTO, said, “We firmly believe that iModel.js, and of course the foundation upon which it is built, is the most open, productive, intuitive, and powerful development environment for capital projects and infrastructure assets, ever. We’re excited to work with user organizations, strategic partners, and third-party developers to build an open ecosystem around iModels to tap the vast potential of infrastructure digital twins.”

Learn more about iModel.js at https://imodeljs.github.io/iModelJs-docs-output and iModels and iModelHub at www.iModelHub.com.

Open applications

Bentley launched several applications as part of its Open portfolio:

  • OpenSite Designer for design and construction of civil site projects;
  • OpenBuildings, bringing together its AECOsim building design and Speedikon factory and industrial design applications;
  • OpenBuildings Station Designer, a specialized application for designing rail and metro stations;
  •  OpenBridge Designer, which combines Bentley’s bridge modeling, analysis, and design capabilities into one package; and
  • OpenFlows FLOOD, a flood analysis and early warning system.
LEGION’s pedestrian simulation applications offer modeling for scenarios such as interaction of pedestrians with each other and with physical obstacles, circulation and evacuations within public spaces like railway stations, airports, sports arenas, and tall buildings, and pedestrian and vehicle interactions.

Bhupinder Singh, chief product officer, Bentley Systems, said, “Open has three meanings. First, it signifies open to multiple disciplines. Second, it means open to analysis and simulation. Using different applications, two different disciplines — for example, a geotechnical engineer and a structural engineer — can iterate on the same dataset in our comprehensive modeling environment, providing a ‘digital feedback loop’ and enhancing their collaboration across BIM workflows. And third, because MicroStation technology underpins Open applications, users can produce multidiscipline deliverables and accomplish multidiscipline clash resolution from any Open application.”

OpenSite Designer provides a comprehensive site design workflow, including reality modeling, geotechnical, underground utilities, stormwater drainage, terrain modeling, detailed drawing production, and visualization. Interoperating with PLAXIS, Bentley’s newly acquired geotechnical engineering solution, site plans can be enhanced with new information about the active properties of soil, including bearing capacity, stresses, and displacement.

OpenBuildings Designer incorporates all of the capabilities of AECOsim Building Designer as well as Components Center and a range of new capabilities and standards including EnergyPlus, a building energy model to help users comply with ASHRAE standards in the U.S., and UK energy requirements; support of international standards including IFC 2×3, IFC4 Reference View, COBie, and Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority; new capabilities to design curtain wall systems; and OpenBuildings Speedikon, an application for industrialized design and construction.

OpenBridge Designer integrates the modeling capabilities of OpenBridge Modeler and the analysis and design features of RM Bridge, LEAP Bridge Concrete, and LEAP Bridge Steel to meet the design and construction needs of both concrete and steel bridges. OpenBridge Designer enables bridge designers to create an intelligent, parametric bridge model, fully integrated with analysis and design, as well as drawings. It enables seamless synchronization of various disciplines for analysis, design, detailing, documentation, construction engineering, and load-rating.

Bentley rebranded its Haestad water modeling and ACTION Modulers flood analysis product lines to form OpenFlows for water districts, sewer utilities, and flood plain managers. OpenFlows extends smart water networks capabilities with GIS-based asset-centric information for water loss reduction, water operations, flood prediction, and prevention. OpenFlows FLOOD continuously monitors watersheds, integrating data from real-time monitoring stations and numerical models to calculate risk levels. OpenFlows FLOOD mitigates flood risk, improving understanding of the processes involved in flood generation, and transmitting early alerts to reduce the impact caused by floods.

Connecting digital workflows across disciplines

Collaborative digital workflows are characterized by data captured or created for one purpose being accessed and used by other applications for other purposes, thereby saving time, minimizing rework, and improving data quality over the asset life cycle. For example, OpenFlows can use ContextCapture to create a 3D reality mesh, feeding into OpenFlows FLOOD modeling and using the terrain as input to various analyses in a single review environment for visualization and presentation to stakeholders using LumenRT.

Connecting analysis with modeling in another Open collaborative digital workflow involves the layout of road geometry, and hydraulic analysis and design using storm analysis tools including the determination of the size of storm inlets, pipes, depth of pipes, and manholes. The collaborative nature of the workflow enables clash detection in the subsurface environment, and iteration and adjustment as needed, to confirm functional and physical characteristics.

Completing its announcement about Open applications, Bentley said that Bentley Map will be rebranded as OpenCities Map; and OpenComms, aimed primarily at multisystem operators, will incorporate Bentley Fiber and Bentley Coax.

ProjectWise integration with Microsoft 365

Bentley announced the general availability of integration between ProjectWise 365 Services and Microsoft 365. The collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Flow, alongside analytics from Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Power BI, can now be applied to mainstream automated digital workflows within ProjectWise.

Neil Lee, IT director – Applications, Mott MacDonald, said, “Our evaluation of the integration capability against the typical demands of our project teams demonstrated that Bentley and Microsoft are fulfilling the vision of enabling more seamless and automated digital workflows for project teams to access project information residing in either Office 365 or ProjectWise. Our project teams will be enabled to drive improved project outcomes with more streamlined collaboration that enables faster and more informed decisions.”

ProjectWise 365 Services also embrace every project stakeholder, connected through Microsoft’s Azure cloud service and Bentley’s new integrated web-based PDF review and markup in ProjectWise that enables reviewers to submit and respond to comments and markups in near real-time as well as submit issues for resolution.

ProjectWise 365 Services include ProjectWise Project Insights with automated project status dashboards that help identify trends and potential issues early to mitigate risks. And leveraging Microsoft Power BI, users can combine design status with financial, schedule, and other project information for a comprehensive view of project performance.

Acquisitions and partnerships

Bentley announced the acquisition of Agency9, based in Stockholm. Agency9 (www.agency9.com) has provided nearly half of Sweden’s larger municipalities with city-scale digital twin cloud services for city planning and related web-based 3D visualization. Since 2012, Agency9 has taken advantage of reality meshes created by Bentley’s ContextCapture reality modeling software as the digital context for visualizing urban infrastructure assets represented in GIS data, terrain surveys, and BIM models. Bentley’s new iTwin cloud services will enable OpenCities Planner (formerly Agency9 CityPlanner) to serve urban planning requirements at fuller levels of detail.

Bentley also acquired pedestrian simulation software provider LEGION, based in London and supporting more than half of the world’s 40 largest transit agencies. LEGION’s pedestrian simulation application offers modeling capabilities of people’s interactions with each other and physical obstacles and activities, including circulation and evacuations, within public spaces such as railway stations, airports, sports arenas, tall buildings, and street level with vehicle interactions.

Using LEGION simulation tools in collaborative digital workflows with Bentley’s OpenBuildings Designer, architects, engineers, and owners can consider pedestrian traffic in their design alternatives. The newly announced OpenBuildings Station Designer will enable collaborative digital workflows to fully model pedestrian activities and journeys to and from trains, platforms, and through stations.

Atos and Bentley announced a strategic partnership through which they will offer a complete solution to create and operate digital twins on behalf of industry and infrastructure asset owners. Atos’ global experience and expertise in digital transformation together with Bentley’s infrastructure, engineering, reality modeling, and asset performance software portfolio will enable businesses to take advantage of fully integrated and managed digital twins as a cloud-based service.

This partnership offers owner-operators the following features and benefits:

  • full immersive visibility of assets with up-to-date 3D models of assets via drone-enabled scans;
  • real-time monitoring to predict asset performance and avoid failures;
  • performance analysis to maximize asset availability, increase productivity, ensure optimum performance, and ultimately extend the life of assets in the field;
  • remote operation of assets in the case of dangerous or inaccessible assets;
  • operational training for immersive virtual reality environments; and
  • decision-making support for asset operational strategies.

    Information provided by Bentley Systems (www.bentley.com).