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Building Information Modeling (BIM) for Infrastructure Overview

Building Information Modeling (BIM), as applied to highway infrastructure (BIM for Infrastructure), is a collaborative work method for structuring, managing, and using data and information about transportation assets throughout their lifecycle.  Managing data involves creating data (i.e., supplying data using data models); preserving data (i.e., storing, archiving, securing, and retrieving data); and, provisioning, exchanging, or sharing data for use during a variety of business operations.  The integration of data sources from multiple business siloes creates a digital twin and increases data accessibility for better decision making. Life-cycle phases (as seen in the work flow below) encompass the entire life of the project from design to construction to operations and maintenance.

This figure illustrates the asset lifecycle in terms of Building Information Modeling (BIM) for Infrastructure. The lifecycle is shown as a wheel with a central circle, a middle layer, and an outer layer. The central circle of the wheel is labeled “Common Data Environment (CDE),” with the subtitle “Geometric and Non-Geometric Data Models.” The middle layer is divided into four equal segments labeled “Data and Standards,” “Policies and Processes,” “Tools and Technology,” and “People and Skills.” The outer layer is divided into four differently sized segments showing four phases in the asset lifecycle, labeled “Planning and Programming,” “Design,” “Construction,” and “Operations and Maintenance.” A fifth phase labeled “Decommissioning New Project” is indicated by a thick arrow that forms an additional layer on top of the wheel’s outer layer and spans parts of the Operations and Maintenance and Planning and Programming phases. A legend under the wheel explains four icons used within and between the fives phases: a circle composed of two arrows is labeled “Data Exchanges,” a circled “P” is labeled “Procurement,” a circled “CA” is labeled “Contract Award,” and a circled “M” is labeled “Mobilization.” The BIM-related activities are shown within each phase. Planning and Programming is shown as a small sliver of the wheel with no internal activities. The Data Exchange symbol is shown near the phase between the middle and outer layers of the wheel. The activities within Design are labeled “RFQ,” “Selection Process,” “BIM Execution Plan,” Prelim Design,” “Final/Detailed Design,” and “Prep Contract Deliverables,” with the last two activities stacked on top of each other to indicate simultaneity. The Procurement symbol is shown between the RFQ and Selection Process activities, and the Contract Award symbol is shown between the Selection Process and BIM Execution Plan activities. Data Exchange symbols are shown below the Prelim Design and Prep Contract Deliverables activities. An icon labeled “Hand Over” is shown between the Design and Construction phases. The activities within Construction are labeled “RFP,” “Bid Review,” “BIM Execution Plan,” “Construction,” and “Acceptance.” The Procurement symbol is shown between the RFP and Bid Review activities, the Contract Award symbol is shown between the Bid Review and BIM Execution Plan activities, and the Mobilization symbol is shown between the BIM Execution Plan and Construction activities. Data Exchange symbols are shown below the RFP, Construction, and Acceptance activities. An icon labeled “Hand Over” is shown between the Construction and Operations and Maintenance phases. The activities within Operations and Maintenance are labeled “Facility Condition and Systems Performance Monitoring,” “Maintenance Activities,” “Emergency Response Activities,” and “Capital Improvement Planning.” The first three activities are stacked from top to bottom, respectively, to indicate simultaneity, and the fourth activity is to the right of the first two and above the third. Nine Data Exchange symbols are shown under the bottom-most activity. The Emergency Response Activities box has an arrow at one end pointing toward the Planning & Programming phase, and the Capital Improvement Planning activity abuts that phase. The Decommissioning New Project phase is indicated by a thick arrow above the Capital Improvement Planning activity and the Planning and Programming phase. The arrow points toward the Design phase.
© 2016 Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Modified by FHWA to
include U.S. practices and lifecycle phases and to reflect specific report
recommendations.  (Click image for larger view.)                                                                                                

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is working to advance BIM for Infrastructure as a digital conduit of information between the design, construction, and operations of an infrastructure asset.  Increased access to and better integration of geospatially located data will increase the efficiency and productivity of project delivery. 

BIM for Infrastructure involves delivering capital projects collaboratively (through the planning, design, and construction phases) and managing services the built infrastructure is expected to provide by efficiently using digital processes rather than traditional paper-based processes.  By aligning data within and across an agency’s information systems in a manner that allows them to be managed easily (e.g., creating a digital twin), the potential exists to break down information silos and offer major productivity gains and cost efficiencies for roadway agencies across all life-cycle phases of built infrastructure.

Further information (reports, TechBriefs, webinar links, etc.) from FHWA’s BIM research program can be found on the publication page.

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Katherine Petros
202-493-3154 / 202-366-9417

Matt Corrigan

Morgan Kessler

Last updated: Thursday, July 1, 2021