January 24, 2011
GeoDesign Summit 2011 in Review
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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GeoDesign: Is it here already or is it under way?

To some, GeoDesign is already under way. To others, it seems as though it is only just beginning, or hasn't begun yet.

The speakers approached the topic from different directions, but then again, perhaps they were more similar than most realized. Michael Goodchild, professor of Geography at the University of California said we need to close what have many have perceived as a growing gap between GIS and design. He spoke of geospatial innovation - when architectures become service oriented as in GIS in the cloud - this will cause GeoDesign to become collaborative.

It is important to distinguish between small-d and Big-D design - design consists of the formulation of an optimization problem with objectives and constraints, i.e., the collection of data, the execution of a search for the optimum solution, and its implementation.” In this simplistic view - small-d implementation is seen as inevitable.

Big-D sees the process complicated by disagreements among stakeholders, difficulties in deciding what is optimal, feedback loops that modify objectives, constraints, and data.

“All my past work has been small-d design such as Wendy's Restaurants in Montreal, gas stations in Toronto, power lines, highways across Southern Ontario,” said Goodchild. He said that he has lived in homes that were built by someone else, but now is designing and building a home, to see what that is like, to be able to experience Big-D design.

Architect and founder of Onuma, Inc., Kimon Onuma, whom many in geospatial had not heard of before, demonstrated in his keynote how a building could be designed quickly with many different sources of input, over the internet, using a unique integrated design approach.

With Onuma's BIM Model Server, you can log in from any computer, can drill down to furniture and equipment level, everything has lat and long. “You can do analysis at this level, and now have connections to ArcGIS,” he said. “It's much different than storing a BIM model in a data server. That live transactional approach is what makes this works.”

On the contrary, Steinitz felt that we should not try to do things too quickly. Steinitz talked about the cultural aspects of GeoDesign and how different designers and scientists are in their thinking, that this must be understood before a harmonious conversation can be had between the two, and before we actually have “geodesigners.” He summarized by saying that design and geo are complicated - “geodesign is an art, not a science but depends on science.”

In a later conversation, Safe Software's Dale Lutz said he thought that many of the things that were talked about at the conference were things that had been going on for a long time. Lutz quoted one of the speakers who said, “GIS is about what is, Geodesign is about what could be.”

“I had a few people almost pleading with me to spend effort on our ability to bring building models into GIS for some scenarios so we will spend some more time talking with some of those folks, figuring out what their needs are and doing something,” he said. “We have it in our product already, so what I'm gathering from these people is it's something that is too hard to use, or if we only did this thing or that it would be better for them.”

“We've been working on this BIM to GIS product for at least three years now, and there are people doing some things with our stuff.”

Urban Form

Among the speakers and Lightning Talks were many presentations about “Urban Form.”

Vishal Bhargava, senior associate, Urban Designer for AECOM, said that Urban Form is the single largest determinant of GHG emissions.

Nicholas de Monchaux, assistant professor of Architecture and Urban Design UC Berkeley talked about “creating a robust nervous system for the cities of today.” The digital tools of today allow us to contemplate this new paradigm.

Constance Bodurow, Lawrence Technological Unviersity, Studio [Ci] a design lab in the College of Architecture, said we are urbanists, and interested in the future of urban form, and they believe cities should be the most desirable place for human habitation.

Carsten Roensdorf, Ordnance Survey, GB Chair CityGML SWG, OGC talked about “CityGML and Linked Data - An Integration Platform for GeoDesign.”

He said that the city of Berlin is an urban information system with a topo map and 3D model, based on CityGML - a standard and exchange format created by the OGC. “It allows you to exchange information,” said Roensdorf, “if you are an architect creating a BIM can export it in CityGML, you can integrate it into larger CityGML environment through levels of detail (LOD).”

CityGML is supported by about 30-35 software vendors. Most cities in Germany have a good CityGML model. The model also allows you to link land ownership and planning, etc. and accepts information from authoritative sources and the web.

Facilities Management

Many years ago I attended an International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) conference, my first introduction to the study of facilities management. The organization was then about three years old and the event was held in the conference center of a Scottsdale, Ariz. resort.

Today, the organization's members manage collectively more than 37 billion square feet of property and annually purchase more than US$100 billion in products and services.

Stu Rich CTO PenBay Solutions talked about “Taking GIS Inside Buildings -

Facilities Management and Analysis” at the Summit.

Rich asked the question, why GIS for facilities?

“We're seeing tremendous growth in urban environments, tremendous building boom, and witnessing the greatest migrations of humanity the world has ever seen,” said Rich. In 2000, we became a predominantly urban species; more people for the first time were living in urban environments than in rural. “It looks like we are going to be doing this for a longer time. This takes pressure off our agricultural lands, but the implications for urban infrastructure are profound.”

Rich pointed out that 48% of emissions are due to the consumption of raw materials for construction materials. ”The greenest building is the one we never build.”

“We need to think about how to address that existing building stock which is unlikely to have the BIM data sets we've been talking about,” said Rich. “How do we apply geodesign to that problem?”

In a nutshell, Rich said we need to extend our thinking to the interior environment - it's not just about buildings, it's about processes.

-We need to think of ways to not have to build a new building

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