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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 »

Reality Modeling Goes Viral at Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure 2016 Conference

November 23rd, 2016 by Susan Smith

One of the exciting developments that came out of The Year in Infrastructure 2016 Conference was the growth of Bentley’s ContextCapture reality modeling offering over the past year. Introduced at the 2015 conference, and derived from the acquisition of Acute3D, ContextCapture is used to process digital photos from a variety of cameras including smartphone cameras, and aerial photography, including UAVs, to provide engineering-ready reality meshes.

Winner Innovation in Reality Modeling: City of Helsinki - Helsinki 3D+ Helsinki, Finland. Image Courtesy of Bentley Systems

Winner Innovation in Reality Modeling: City of Helsinki – Helsinki 3D+
Helsinki, Finland. Image Courtesy of Bentley Systems

Reality meshes provide precise real-world context for design, construction, and operations decisions for use throughout the lifecycle of projects. The latest development in the offering is the ability to include point clouds from laser scans that can be combined with photos in a “hybrid” input to form a reality mesh.

At this year’s Be Inspired Awards, over 15 (out of 60) awardees and finalists used ContextCapture in their design processes. These participants used reality modeling in all areas of infrastructure: architecture, plant and process, facilities management, rail and transit, roads, smart cities, government and utilities, and much more. This year marked the first year for the Innovation in Reality Modeling category, with three finalists making impressive use cases for the technology.

Innovation in Building Winner: Morphosis - Hanking Center Tower. Image Courtesy of Bentley Systems

Innovation in Building Winner: Morphosis – Hanking Center Tower. Image Courtesy of Bentley Systems

The winner in that category, Helsinki 3D+, holds the goal of becoming carbon-neutral by the year 2050. Their goals were as follows:

  • To have an up-to-date 3D platform to city internal processes
  • A uniform city model to various developing projects
  • Be part of Smart Helsinki OS
  • Raise common understanding and interaction of new developments
  • Give analyzed de facto information to support decision making
  • Acquire tools to analyze and reach city’s environmental objective
  • Open 3D data to citizenry, companies, developers, and universities

Such ambitious goals required an ambitious undertaking. Presenter and project manager/architect/civil engineer Jarmo Suomisto showed how Helsinki 3D+ developed various city models covering the entire city of 400km2:

  • 3D semantic model CityGML textured LoD2
  • Reality mesh model with 50,000 oblique images/10 cm groundsample distance
  • Minecraft Helsinki
  • 3D spatial data infrastructure

Finalist CH2M Fairhurst Joint Venture, A9 Dualling Programme, Transport Scotland used reality modeling for corridor design, dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness, Scotland. The £3 billion project involves the upgrade of 130km of single carriageway along the A9 between Perth and Inverness by 2025.

Presenter and senior highways design engineer, Krzysztof Ciacka said that the use of ContextCapture and Bentley LumenRT allowed for

  • Better stakeholder engagement and understanding of their project
  • More effective team communication
  • Time to create visualizations significantly reduced
  • Reduced visits to the site because of powerful design tool
  • BIM compatibility so that the project team could maintain a single source of data

“We believe these models will become the norm for major projects in the future,” said contract manager Neil Stewart.

Another interesting project that successfully used ContextCapture is the Virtual Penn State facilities management project headed up by John Messner, Ph.D., professor of architectural engineering, director, Computer Integrated Construction Research Program, Penn State.

The facility inventory includes 21 campuses, 1,784 buildings and 28.7 million square feet with 65% of the buildings over 25 years old.

The team took 2,400 photos within 2 hours from a plane and used ContextCapture to build out the campus model. They used i-model Transformer to bring in data from some of their disparate legacy systems, such as work order and GIS information so they could then execute integrated queries across different systems. Using ProjectWise Web Server, the team could click on a building in the reality mesh and get facility information. They can overlay utilities on the mesh as well.

Not only is the multi-gigabyte reality mesh helping with current facilities, but “reality mesh helps us visualize future facilities,” said Messner.

In another forum entitled “Energy Use WorldWide,” presenter and Bentley Fellow Dru Crawley said that without existing drawings, it can be very difficult to recreate a model. Drawings may often be design and construction, but not as-built. It’s necessary to create building simulation models for assessing energy and climate conditions using new methods. “ContextCapture’s reality mesh gives us the outline of the building, and it is a quick way to get a building model. The reality mesh is also valuable for capturing interior spaces,” said Crawley.

In addition, they are using a RAPMOD, a rapid energy modeling backpack with camera that measures as you walk, and captures lighting and other information, so the rapid modeling is happening as you walk. You can create a model within a few hours rather than days. All this information can be used within the energy tool.

“I thank the many constituents among users and our industry partners who have demonstrated here at The Year in Infrastructure 2016 the benefits they have realized so far, and their auspicious expectations, as reality modeling goes mainstream,” said Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley. “I believe we will go on to see reality modeling answering the question as to how drones, mixed reality devices, the Industrial Internet of Things—and in fact, ‘digital natives’—will converge to advance infrastructure engineers, project delivery, and asset performance.”


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Categories: apps, architecture, Bentley Systems, BIM, building information modeling, buildingSMART, civil information modeling, collaboration, construction, convergence, engineering, file sharing, IES, IFC, infrastructure, mobile, point clouds, project management, sustainable design, video, virtual reality, visualization, wearable devices

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