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The integration of BIM, IoT, and blockchain technologies in smart buildings and cities enhances urban living by optimizing data management, improving user experiences, and ensuring data security. Effective synergy between these technologies is crucial to meeting user expectations for comfort, cleanliness, security, and efficient space usage in urban environments.

In the bustling landscape of urban development, the integration of digital construction technologies in smart buildings and smart cities is reshaping how urban environments cater to user expectations. A study by researchers at Birmingham City University and the University of Manchester explores the synergy between technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain, emphasizing their potential to meet the growing demands of building users.

Revolutionizing Urban Living with Smart Technologies

As cities strive to become smarter, they face the challenge of managing vast amounts of data to optimize various sectors, including housing, transportation, and health. Since the early 2000s, smart cities have been envisioned to provide real-time information to improve urban living. Central to this vision are smart buildings, which utilize advanced technologies to enhance their functionality and user experience. BIM has revolutionized the construction industry by providing a 3D digital modelling platform that facilitates the sharing and management of building information. This technology enhances collaboration among project stakeholders, improving communication and problem detection. When integrated with IoT, BIM enables automated solutions that optimize building performance, such as temperature and humidity control.

Harnessing the Power of IoT and Blockchain

IoT connects multiple devices, allowing them to communicate and share data without human intervention. In smart buildings, IoT systems generate large volumes of data, which can be used to enhance user experiences and optimize building operations. However, managing this data presents challenges, such as ensuring data protection and aligning the data with building users' needs. Blockchain technology provides a secure method for recording and managing information. In the context of smart buildings, blockchain can enhance the security of BIM data and support the integration of IoT systems. By ensuring data integrity and authenticity, blockchain can address concerns related to data manipulation and unauthorized access. The study employed a qualitative approach, gathering data through literature review and case studies involving building users. The findings highlight the importance of understanding the specific data needs of smart buildings and cities to create synergies between different technologies. The research identified several key expectations from building users, including comfort, cleanliness, security, and efficient space usage.

Bridging Technology and User Expectations

One of the main challenges in integrating digital construction technologies is the alignment of BIM, IoT, and blockchain to meet user expectations. Data collected from smart buildings often originates from BIM models, but integrating this data with IoT systems to support smart city initiatives remains complex. Additionally, ensuring the security and privacy of user data is crucial, particularly when using blockchain technology. The analysis showed that the nature of expectations by the client team and building occupants within the targeted case study differed. Based on the client team’s perception, their expectations can be positioned within short and long-term expectations. As a short-term expectation, coordination and collaboration heavily rely on data/information available to manage daily operations. In that respect, BIM can be used as a common data environment to obtain or retrieve data about the building, which includes 3D visualizations, real-time information, and documentation. However, with the continual efforts in research and practice to adopt and implement BIM, integrating the client team as part of the execution process remains a challenging issue, and this often results in incomplete or inaccurate data/information about the building during the in-use phase. This consequently can result in poor coordination of operation and maintenance of building systems, and also poor management of spaces, which, based on the analysis, illustrate many of the client team’s expectations in the short term. This indeed can reason some of the shortfalls that automated systems such as IoT may lack in terms of improving building performance in the long term. Aside from the complexity of IoT systems itself, the data collected by IoT systems is often recorded on a Building Management System (BMS), and in many cases, does not support the client team’s decision-making on different aspects within the building.

In the context of this study, on the one hand, and based on the primary analysis, the client team outlined that data retrieved from BIM is often not integrated within smart systems such as IoT, and also highlighted that there are security implications that need to be considered. BIM data that is retrieved can be 2D, 3D, schedules, cost, and building life cycle data. The lack of integrating BIM data within smart systems such as IoT, in addition to technological complexities, can be attributed to the limited participation of the client team in the BIM process which results in limiting the scope of BIM data when deploying the use of smart systems such as IoT. Scope of BIM data, in this context, refers to the purpose of the data, which can be single-purposed or multi-purposed. In this instance, single-purposed data refers to data that is produced for a particular purpose, whereas multi-purposed data refers to data that can inform multiple purposes. It can be stated that lack of understanding scope of BIM data can result in poor synergies between different digital construction technologies and can limit their role in satisfying building users’ expectations.

Crafting a User-Centric Smart City

Although many studies have highlighted the issue of poor integration of building users’ expectations as part of building delivery, this study supported highlighting a more complex issue, which is understanding the scope of data. Lack of understanding scope of BIM data can impact the effectivity of automated systems such as IoT, and more importantly, recognizing security and privacy considerations using technologies such as Blockchain. Based on the analysis, it can be stated that many of the client team’s and occupants’ expectations rely on data derived from the architectural and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) BIM data. For instance, MEP Data can be used to optimize building performance, improve coordination, support business strategy, and even improve comfortability. As for architectural data, it can be used to support navigation, space planning, control cleanliness, and measure safety. Consequently, understanding the above expectations, capability of different digital construction technologies and the scope of data can create an improved workflow so that these expectations can be achieved.

At a smart city development level, each sector as part of smart city development aims toward satisfying the different requirements that mostly feed into users’ expectations whether at a building or urban level. This in return requires large amounts of data that is captured on a real-time basis using automated systems such as IoT. While there are vast number of studies on IoT within the context of Smart Cities, the focus is often on the technological aspect, and in many cases, cascading the benefits from a smart city level to building levels is complex, and in many cases, cannot support optimizing different aspects to support building users’ expectations. Therefore, based on the above, it can be realized that satisfying building users’ expectations would require holistic consideration of data at both BIM and Smart City levels.

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Quelle/Source: Devdiscourse, 23.06.2024

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