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What is Digital Information?

What is digital information?

Digital information surrounds us, shaping and enhancing every aspect of our lives. Digital information has become an essential part of our modern world, from how we communicate and collaborate to how we access and share knowledge, to how we transact and entertain ourselves.

But what is digital information, exactly? Simply put, digital information is data that is stored, transmitted, and processed in digital form, using computers and other digital devices. Digital information can be anything from text and numbers to images and sounds, video and animations, complex datasets and algorithms.

Digital information has several key characteristics that differentiate it from analogue information, such as paper documents or audio and video tapes. Digital information is easily reproducible, transferable, and manipulatable. It can be copied, shared, and edited quickly and accurately using a wide range of tools and platforms.

Digital information also has a high degree of reliability and integrity. By using digital checksums, encryption, and backup systems, we can ensure that digital information is accurate, secure, and preserved over time.

However, digital information also poses new challenges and risks. Digital information can be vulnerable to cyber attacks, data breaches, and misinformation. Digital information can also be misused, abused, or regulated in ways that may infringe upon our privacy, security, or freedom of expression.

To navigate these challenges and risks, we need to be aware of the capabilities and limitations of digital information and adopt a responsible and ethical approach to its use and management. We need to educate ourselves and others about the risks and benefits of digital information and develop and enforce appropriate laws, standards, and policies that protect and enhance the public good.

To successfully use BIM, we need to understand the geometric and other information relevant to our project and use appropriate tools and standards to capture, manage, and share this information. We also need to be mindful of the limitations and uncertainties of geometric and other types of information and to verify and validate it as needed.

One of the critical aspects of BIM is its ability to capture and manage geometric information about a building or infrastructure. Geometric information refers to the size, shape, location, orientation, and other physical properties of the building or infrastructure.

Using BIM, we can create detailed and accurate 3D models of a building or infrastructure, including its geometry, materials, and systems. We can also use BIM to annotate and tag the different elements and features of the building or infrastructure and to link them to other data and documents.

Geometric information is essential for many aspects of BIM, such as design, analysis, visualisation, coordination, and communication. With BIM, we can use geometric information to understand and optimise the performance of a building or infrastructure, detect and resolve potential conflicts or issues, and communicate and collaborate with other stakeholders.

For example, we can use BIM to simulate and visualise how a building or infrastructure will respond to different loads, such as wind, snow, or earthquakes. We can also use BIM to optimise the layout and spacing of different elements, such as walls, doors, windows, or fixtures.

Non-geometric information refers to data and information unrelated to the physical properties of a building or infrastructure but is still relevant to its design, construction, operation, or maintenance.

Some examples of non-geometric information stored and managed in BIM include material properties, system specifications, cost estimates, schedules, budgets, environmental impacts, sustainability goals, safety and accessibility standards, legal and regulatory requirements, stakeholder information, and process and policy information.

Non-geometric information is essential because it helps us understand and optimise a building or infrastructure’s performance, cost, and risk. Using BIM, we can integrate non-geometric information with geometric information to create a comprehensive and consistent model of a building or infrastructure.

For example, we can use BIM to analyse the energy efficiency of a building by combining geometric information about its layout and materials with non-geometric details on its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. We can also use BIM to optimise the maintenance of a building or infrastructure by linking non-geometric information about maintenance schedules and procedures with geometric details on the location and condition of assets.

To effectively use non-geometric information in BIM, we must ensure that it is accurate, relevant, and up-to-date. We must adopt appropriate standards, protocols, and tools for capturing, managing and sharing non-geometric information. By doing so, we can improve our projects’ efficiency, quality, and sustainability and enhance our digital assets’ value.

One of the key benefits of BIM is its ability to generate, store, and share documentation about a building or infrastructure. Documentation refers to the written, visual, or digital records that describe the different aspects of a building or infrastructure, such as its design, construction, operation, or maintenance.

With BIM, we can use documentation to communicate and coordinate the work of different disciplines and stakeholders and to track and document the progress and quality of a project. We can also use documentation to comply with legal, regulatory, and insurance requirements and to document and demonstrate the performance and sustainability of a building or infrastructure.

BIM can generate different types of documentation, such as drawings, specifications, reports, schedules, budgets, and manuals. BIM can also link documentation to other data and documents and the 3D model of a building or infrastructure.

By using BIM, we can improve our documentation’s efficiency, accuracy, and clarity and reduce the risk of errors or omissions. We can also use BIM to streamline and automate the documentation process and to minimise the need for paper-based or manual documentation.

However, BIM also brings new challenges and responsibilities in terms of documentation. We need to ensure that the documentation generated by BIM is complete, consistent, and accurate. We must adopt appropriate BIM standards, protocols, and tools for generating, storing, and sharing documentation.

To successfully use BIM for documentation, we need to clearly understand the types of documentation required for our project and use BIM to generate and manage this documentation efficiently and effectively. By doing so, we can improve the quality and value of our documentation and enhance the success of our projects.

When we talk about digital information from an asset like a chair, we’re referring to the various forms of digital representation of the physical asset.

One example of digital information related to a chair is 3D models. These models can be created using computer-aided design software. They can create detailed technical drawings, visualise the chair in different environments, and generate animations or virtual reality experiences.

Another example of digital information is Technical specifications. These specifications can be captured digitally, such as in an electronic document or spreadsheet. They can include details on the materials, size and weight, load-bearing capacity, and other relevant information.

A Bill of Materials (BOM) can be created to capture information on all the components that make up the chair, including details on materials, sizes, quantities and supplier information.

Maintenance records can also be captured digitally. This can include any repairs, replacements, or maintenance done on the chair and can be used to plan for future maintenance and track the chair’s performance over time.

Finally, Safety Compliance documentation can be captured digitally, such as electronic documents or spreadsheets. They include test results, certifications, and standards the chair meets to ensure safety.

These forms of digital information can support the chair’s lifecycle management, from the design and construction phase to operation, maintenance and eventually disposal. They can also help plan for the future and make informed decisions about the chair throughout its life. Having all this digital information at hand can improve the overall management and performance of the asset, the chair in this case.

Spatial information regarding a room refers to data that describes the location, layout, and characteristics of the physical features within a room. This can include the size and shape of the room, the location of doors and windows, the presence and location of furniture, and any other features that define the space.

This information can be represented in various forms, such as floor plans, surface area, 3D models, and point clouds. It can be used for building design, interior design, and virtual reality applications.

In today’s fast-paced and constantly-evolving world, digital information is crucial in managing various aspects of a facility. From space capacity and utilisation to asset registration and maintenance and from statutory regulation to health and safety, digital tools make keeping a facility running smoothly and efficiently easier.

We will examine how digital information is used in these critical areas and how it assists asset management.

First, digital maps and floor plans can be used to track and optimise the use of space in a facility. This can include measuring the occupancy levels of different areas, identifying underutilised spaces, and planning for future expansion. This allows for better space usage and capacity management.

Next, digital databases can be used to track all facility assets, including their location, condition, and maintenance history. This makes it easier to plan maintenance and repairs and to keep track of the overall health of a facility’s assets.

Digital tools are also crucial in maintaining and repairing a facility’s assets. Maintenance and repairs can be scheduled and tracked digitally, making it easier to ensure that all assets are correctly maintained and that repairs are completed promptly.

Digital information is also used to ensure compliance with various regulations related to the operation of a facility, such as safety standards and building codes. This helps minimise risks and ensures the facility operates safely and legally.

Finally, digital tools can be used to track and manage health and safety risks within a facility, such as monitoring air and water quality, managing hazardous materials, and training employees on safety procedures. This ensures that a facility is a safe place for everyone.

As you can see, digital information is vital in managing various aspects of a facility. From optimising space utilisation to ensuring compliance with regulations, digital tools make keeping a facility running smoothly and efficiently easier.

When we talk about the asset lifecycle in construction, we’re referring to the different stages an asset goes through, from procuring and designing, manufacturing and assembling, operating and maintaining, and finally, decommissioning and recycling/disposal.

In the Procuring and Designing phase, the asset is planned and designed. This includes defining the project requirements and goals, preparing cost estimates, and creating design documents. It’s essential to make decisions in this phase that will shape the asset’s entire lifecycle, such as materials choices and energy efficiency.

In the Manufacturing and Assembling phases, the asset is manufactured and built. This includes preparing the site, installing the foundation, building the structure, and installing various systems and equipment. This phase is critical for ensuring the asset is built to the required standards and budget.

Part of the Assembling phase is when the asset is tested and commissioned to ensure it is operating correctly and safely. This includes testing the building or infrastructure’s systems and equipment and ensuring they work as expected.

In the Operation and Maintenance phase, the asset is in use and is maintained to ensure that it continues to perform to the required standards and that it remains safe and compliant with legal and regulatory requirements. This phase is critical for ensuring the asset’s longevity, energy efficiency and safety.

Eventually, the asset will reach the end of its useful life and require Decommissioning and Recycled and disposal. Decommissioning includes removing systems, dismantling the structure and ensuring the site is ready for re-utilisation.

We group the phases and refer to them as the delivery phase, which covers procuring, designing, manufacturing and assembling. Lastly, the operational phase covers operating, maintaining, decommissioning and recycling/disposal.

Accurate as-built information is required to operate, maintain, and adapt existing buildings and infrastructure.

Accuracy is how close you are to the true value

Precision is how close two or more measurements are to each other

If you are precise, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are accurate. However, if you are consistently accurate, you are also precise.

Several data layers are commonly used in construction to plan, design, construct, and operate projects. We will look at the top four.

Estimating data is a crucial aspect of construction projects. It helps professionals better understand a project before it begins.

As a project estimator, I estimate data for trends in tender wins and cost estimates. This helps managers understand their tendering or hit rate.

Tendering or hit rate is the ratio of tenders placed on construction projects to the number of tenders won.

Understanding our tendering or hit rate is vital in sales and discovery. Looking back at tenders or hit rates from years past, we can see how many tenders we need to place on projects to achieve the desired results.

Estimating data is critical in construction, helping managers and estimators make informed decisions about project costs, schedules, and resources.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) data is a powerful tool used throughout construction projects. BIM data is a 2D or 3D rendering of a building that is useful for the entire design and construction process.

It can be utilised by the design team, contractors, construction engineers and owners. The BIM data promotes collaboration across an organization by giving each team a perfect representation of the project.

Employing simulation tools with BIM data keeps the parties and teams in control of their work. BIM construction data helps prevent conflict before it happens by coordinating all steps and processes of a given activity. It helps us avoid errors, delays and cost overruns.

With BIM data, all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the project goals, requirements and constraints and can work together more efficiently and effectively, to deliver better buildings.

Operational Project Data includes all construction data in relation to the execution of a project. Resources, logistics and productivity are major aspects of operational data.

Having insights into resources enable organisations to know what materials, equipment and labour are necessary to complete activities. Logistical data includes all Requests for Information (RFI), submittals and deliveries. Having access to this data on the project maximises efficiency.

Financial data allows a firm to predetermine the overall cost of a project by knowing the price of every aspect.

Financial Data is comprised of all aspects of a construction project and the cost amount associated with them. As a project progresses, construction cost becomes more of a factor.

Construction data gives an accounting team a clear vision of the financial implications. Anticipating common roadblocks creates room for better budgeting practices, ensuring that projects aren’t postponed due to financial constraints.

Project managers and the finance team will have the same understanding of the budget and be able to anticipate needs before they arise.

These data layers are used to plan, design, construct, and operate projects. They can be used for various purposes, such as cost and schedule management, quality control, risk management, collaboration and visualisation, performance tracking and financial management.

Russell Ackoff was a renowned systems theorist and professor of organisational change. Throughout his career, Ackoff studied the complexities of human thought and behaviour.

One of Ackoff’s most notable contributions to the field was his theory on the content of the human mind.

According to Ackoff, the content of the human mind can be classified into five categories:

Data: These are raw, unprocessed information stored in our memory.

Information: When organised and given context, data becomes information. This is the type of knowledge that we use to make decisions and solve problems.

Knowledge: Understanding and applying the information in a specific context. It is the ability to use information to make informed decisions and take action.

Insight: This is a deeper understanding or realization of the underlying principles or connections between pieces of knowledge. Insights often involve “aha” moments or epiphanies where new understandings are achieved, potentially leading to innovative problem-solving or decision-making.

Wisdom: Wisdom is the integration of knowledge and experience. It is the ability to see the big picture and understand the relationships between different pieces of information.

High Speed 2, or HS2, is a proposed high-speed railway in the United Kingdom. The project aims to connect London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds, and Manchester, reducing journey times, increasing capacity, and improving connectivity between these major cities and London.

The first phase of the project, connecting London and Birmingham, is currently under construction and is set to open in 2026. The second phase, extending the line to the East Midlands, and Manchester, is in the planning and design phase. HS2 is expected to be a game changer for the UK’s transportation system, helping to support economic growth and improve the quality of life for those living and working in these cities.

HS2 uses virtual reality and real-time monitoring technology built into infrastructure such as rails, bridges and overhead lines in a push for greater reliability.

The data produced from this work will inform construction and help build a ‘digital twin’ – a 3D replica as detailed as the real thing.

This information is then built into the digital twin, allowing HS2 to have a complete virtual replica of the network.

Digital twin technology can be used to support a wide range of applications in the mining industry such as mine planning and design, optimisation of production and logistics, monitoring of equipment and processes, maintenance and repair planning, and emergency response.

Hellas Gold was a mining company that operated in Greece. It was a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold. The company was responsible for operating and developing the Skouries gold, silver, lead and copper mines in the Chalkidiki region of Northern Greece.

The company created a digital model of the Skouries site to support management and information on the mining processes. In turn, the model will also be linked to Asset Management for plant and equipment.

The potential efficiencies lie in the improved reliability, quality, accessibility and completeness of information to support the feasibility, handover and operational stages.

The digital twin journey starts with creating a digital model, a digital representation of a physical asset or system. The digital model is created using computer-aided design (CAD) software and typically includes detailed information about the asset’s geometry, materials, and other physical characteristics.

Once the digital model is created, it can generate a digital shadow, a real-time representation of the asset’s physical characteristics and performance. A digital shadow is created by integrating sensor data, real-time monitoring data, and other information into the digital model. This allows the digital shadow to reflect the asset’s current state and be used to predict its future behaviour.

The final stage of the digital twin journey is the creation of a digital twin, an advanced digital representation of an asset that includes both the digital model and the digital shadow. A digital twin is an integrated digital model of an asset that includes all relevant data, including physical characteristics, sensor data, real-time monitoring data, and other information. This allows the digital twin to be used for various purposes, including simulation, analysis, and optimisation. The digital twin can predict the asset’s future behaviour, optimise its performance, reduce costs and improve safety.

A digital twin is a powerful tool for improving the design, operation, maintenance, and control of physical assets by allowing for real-time monitoring, detailed simulation, quick diagnosis, accurate prediction, and effective control. Let’s look at the six essential functions:

1. Prototype: In the context of a digital twin, prototyping refers to the initial creation of the digital model of a physical asset. This step involves mapping out the physical characteristics of the asset into a digital format, typically through the use of CAD software. Prototyping can help identify potential issues or improvements early in the design phase, reduce development costs, and improve time-to-market.

2. Monitor: Once the digital twin has been established, it can be used to monitor the asset in real-time. This involves integrating sensor data, real-time monitoring data, and other information to keep track of the asset’s state. Through continuous monitoring, you can ensure the asset’s optimal operation and intervene if something starts deviating from the norm.

3. Simulate: The digital twin allows for simulations of different scenarios, which can help predict how the asset will behave under specific conditions. This could include environmental changes, operational stress, or changes in use. By simulating these scenarios, you can identify potential issues before they occur in the real world, and devise solutions proactively.

4. Diagnose: When issues do arise, the digital twin can be used to diagnose the problem. By comparing the current state of the digital twin to its optimal state, you can identify discrepancies and pinpoint the cause of the issue. This can drastically reduce downtime by facilitating quicker and more accurate troubleshooting.

5. Predict: Using historical and real-time data, a digital twin can predict future behaviour of the asset. This involves machine learning algorithms and statistical models to forecast outcomes. These predictions can be about the asset’s performance, maintenance needs, possible failures, etc., helping you stay ahead of potential problems.

6. Control: A digital twin can also be used to control the physical asset. Based on the real-time information and predictive insights, changes can be made to the operations of the physical asset to optimise performance, reduce costs, or mitigate potential issues. This could involve adjusting settings, scheduling maintenance, or making design improvements.

Let us look at a self study of Ryder’s headquarters; Coopers Studios in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Smart connected buildings are revolutionising the way we design, build, and operate our built environment. By leveraging the latest technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and Building Information Modelling (BIM), these buildings can optimise their performance, improve the comfort and safety of their occupants, and reduce their environmental impact.

The integration of BIM with smart building technologies such as IoT and AI allows for the creation of truly smart connected buildings. These buildings are able to monitor and optimize their performance in real-time, using data from sensors and other sources to detect and predict issues, and using automation and machine learning algorithms to make adjustments to systems such as lighting, heating and cooling, and security.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a powerful tool that is revolutionizing the way we design, build, and operate our built environment. By creating a digital twin of a building, BIM allows us to track and optimize a wide range of factors that impact the performance, comfort, and safety of the building.

One key area where BIM can be used is in tracking and optimizing the capacity and comfort levels of individual rooms or spaces within a building. By including information about the size, layout, and systems of a room or space in the BIM model, we can determine the number of people it can safely and comfortably accommodate, as well as the temperature, humidity, lighting, and acoustics that are most conducive to comfort.

Using data from sensors and other sources, BIM can monitor the occupancy and comfort levels of a building in real-time, alerting staff if capacity is reached or comfort levels are not being maintained. This can help to ensure the safety and productivity of building occupants, as well as the efficient use of the building’s resources.

Overall, the use of BIM in tracking and optimizing room capacity and comfort levels is just one example of the many ways that this powerful technology is transforming the way we design, build, and operate our built environment.

Have a go https://coopers.bimacademy.io

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for the built environment, as building owners and operators have had to adapt to new health and safety requirements and changing occupancy patterns. Smart connected buildings – which leverage the latest technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) – are well-suited to meet these challenges and support a safe and healthy environment for building occupants.

One of the key ways that smart connected buildings can help to address the COVID-19 pandemic is through the use of IoT and AI for infection control. By deploying sensors and other IoT devices throughout the building, smart connected buildings can track the occupancy and movement of people in real-time, helping to identify and prevent overcrowding and ensure that social distancing guidelines are being followed.