OGC Benefits Financial Firms in AEC Markets

Building owners and renters, appraisers, bankers, tax officials, realtors, mortgage and insurance company employees and others routinely create, use and share digital information about buildings and capital projects. For example:

  • An insurer wants documentation from a city regarding a building's fire safety, and the city wants a plan for evacuating the people from the building. A major tenant's lawyer wants to know these details room-by-room.
  • A realtor wants to provide prospective buyers with validated square footage, operational histories, modernization and remodeling history, maintenance schedules, plot plan, survey and zoning data, and infrastructure connection details.
  • A mortgage banker wants the above information, plus proforma operating revenue analyses, capital outlay/recovery schedules, income and cash flow including tax credits/offsets.

Benefits of BIM:

  • Designers and engineers lower costs and risks.
  • Information for first responders means safer buildings.
  • Efficient monitoring and control of building operations lowers operating costs.
  • Comprehensive view of facility and its surroundings leads to better decisions.
  • Realtors, appraisers, and bankers save money with efficient access to information.
  • Regulations compliance costs are lowered.
  • Subcontractors' costs and risks are reduced.

These professionals seek to obtain the same benefits and productivity improvements from Information Technology that other professions receive. Unfortunately, information contained in digital drawings and maps created by city planners, civil engineers, architects and builders often cannot be easily integrated into the tools and reports of professionals responsible for managing the operation of buildings. The problem compounds over the life of a building partly because more and more different firms become involved, often requiring this information for dissimilar applications using different information systems, and partly because the drawings and maps that were used for construction are not maintained for later use in the building life cycle.

Integrators, consultants, and system vendors can be contracted to create a patchwork of local interoperability and data policy solutions, but such solutions increasingly fail to meet the full set of needs.

IFC Phases: The CAD/GIS/BIM Interoperability ChallengeThe CAD/GIS/BIM Interoperability Challenge


CAD-GIS integration, 3-D visualization, security, digital rights management and a Web services foundation are necessary parts of the solution, but they are not sufficient. Building Information Models (BIM) and Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) are also required. BIMs and IFCs "carry the semantic payloads" that enable the base data to be enhanced with richer descriptions of physical and institutional realities and they provide a way to carry this information forward for use in later stages of the building life cycle. Only a comprehensive standards process can converge the necessary data and services across multiple disciplines that are part of the building life cycle.

Standards are the Solution

Standards hold the key to a comprehensive, global and long-term solution. Recognizing this, major players from all sectors of the larger building and capital project domain have come together in several standards organizations to create a framework for solving these problems. To achieve significant benefits, these groups are moving forward on the daunting task of creating harmonized, consensus-derived, and open information technology standards that serve all infrastructure-related industries. Governments share this bottom line motivation with private businesses, but they also have other motivations, such as saving lives during disasters and enabling more livable and sustainable communities.

The Role of the OGC

The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC®), a geospatial standards organization, works with its CAD and geospatial software vendor members, AEC community members and government agencies on geospatial service and encoding standards that benefit financial, legal and property service firms. OGC brings to this effort a well-tested consensus standards process and a decade of experience in working closely with other standards organizations.

The OGC's 3-D Information Management Working Group is becoming an important focus for the convergence of the necessary standards. One reason is that major CAD and GIS software vendors are already involved in the OGC's consensus process. So are U.S. federal agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, the General Services Administration (GSA), the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security. Experts in NIST's Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (MEL) have been working on AEC BIM issues for years, and they are now working in the OGC to advance standards convergence. European governments and the Canadian government have also shown interest.

The OGC 3-D Information Management Working Group is specifically focusing on facility planning, emergency management, asset management, and navigation. Specific data and services interoperability may be achieved with CityGML, complex geometric representations, Web Terrain Service and Web 3D Services specification activities.

To achieve its goals, the OGC has formal agreements with the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI), the U.S. National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), the Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE) and the W3C. OGC staff and members communicate with many other organizations that have a stake in the outcomes. Some of these are the Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA), the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO), and the Machinery Information Maintenance Open Standards Association (MIMOSA).

The OGC's 2009 OWS-4 testbed incorporated a CAD/GIS/BIM thread featuring integration of OGC specifications, the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI)'s IFCs and BIMs, and commercially available software products of various kinds. Activity focused on three general areas: Information Models and Encodings, Services-based Interoperability and Applications, and Demonstrations.

Invest in Interoperability!

The OGC is expanding its membership and program activities in the design, engineering, construction realms. This is due to a growing range of requirements from OGC members who desire greater integration of geospatial and location based services with "as built" and "to be built" environments. To learn more about the OGC and how your organization can benefit from participation, contact:

Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.
Phone: +1 (508) 655-5858
outreach [at] opengeospatial.org ">outreach [at] opengeospatial.org